Certificate Leads: Ed Mendelowitz, Ph.D. and Robert Schmitt, Ph.D.
Sponsored by: Existential, Humanistic, and Transpersonal Psychology (EHTP), Consciousness, Spirituality, and Integrative Health (CSIH), and Creativity Studies (CS)
The Death, Loss, and Meaning Certificate program takes a uniquely humanistic and interdisciplinary approach to the core themes that define it. It is intended to be much more than a training program designed to prepare individuals immersed through their professional work and careers in matters of death and loss, though this will surely figure prominently among the populations it will concretely serve. Death and loss are approached in their literal as well as symbolic elements, life transitions included. This Certificate program will attend to the interrelated nuances of individual, cultural, aesthetic, psycho-spiritual, and religious aspects of death, loss, and meaning while attending to themes relating to lived experience and the passage of time: poignancy, personal narrative, and meaning-making. Program flexibility allows for customization of individual courses of study so as to make possible multifarious aspects and focuses dependent upon personal interests, expectations, and intended career applications.
The Death, Loss, and Meaning Certificate has been uniquely designed with Saybrook’s legacy and calling as a pillar of humanistic values and decorum pervasively in mind. This is a sensibility embracing the dignity and grandeur of life while simultaneously attending to its delimiting and tragic dimensions as well. “There is no sun without shadow,” writes Albert Camus, “and it is essential to know the night.” It is this conjoined feeling for perspective, vision, aesthetics, and character that will pervasively inform this Certificate program and serve as the wellspring to which it will regularly return. The largesse that inheres in the very best of humanistic psychology will both undergird and guide this multidimensional program, one enriched by an ongoing dialogue with the broader humanities - literature, art, film, music, philosophy, and religion. “The love of form,” observes poet Louise Gluck, “is a love of endings.”
Individuals in the healthcare field including nurses, nurse aids, physicians, and administrators routinely working with death and loss or who are in frequent contact with caregivers in these domains should find themselves also well-served by this Certificate program. Many spiritual and religious leaders, too, regularly engaged with individuals facing psychological or spiritual malaise associated with death and loss, are likely to find here much of personal and professional worth. The certificate is also relevant for individuals within these fields specializing in working with major life transitions, such as divorce and life adjustment relating to personal disabilities or the disabilities of family members. For each of these groups, this Death, Loss, and Meaning Certificate program seeks to sharpen awareness and deepen understanding, simultaneously broadening perspective and opening new vistas. “Transiency,” as Rollo May once reflected, “is what makes care possible.”
Curriculum: (Choose 4 of 5 courses)
- EHTP 3520 Multicultural Perspectives on Death and Loss
- EHTP 3615 Existential Psychology and Literature
- CSIH 3205 Spiritual Direction
- CS 3530 Death and Loss in Literature and Film
- CS 4535 The Use of Poetry with Death, Loss, and Life Transitions
- Practicum/Project (focus on 1 of the 3 co-sponsoring specializations)
- Integrative Paper/Seminar (focus on 1 of the 3 co-sponsoring specializations)
Learning Objectives: Upon completion of this Certificate, students will be able to…
1. Demonstrate an awareness of the psychological, physical, and spiritual/religious dimensions of death, loss, and life transitions.
2. Utilize knowledge about the physical, psychological, and spiritual/religious dimensions of death, loss, and life transitions in an applied setting.
3. Be able to articulate and utilize foundational existential and humanistic psychology applications relevant to issues of death, loss, and life transitions.
4. Demonstrate sensitivity to a diversity of perspectives on death and loss, including spiritual, religious, and cultural differences.
5. Work with issues of death, loss, life transitions, and meaning in an interdisciplinary context.
6. Demonstrate understanding of the way creative individuals examined the topics of death, loss, and life transitions in media including books, theater, movies, and television.