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Although loss and grief are experienced by 100% of the world's population, many people do not understand how a profound loss can lead to enhancement and transformation. They acknowledge that a griever's world is forever changed, but aim toward acceptance of the loss, and do not have the tools to facilitate moving forward from there. The purpose of my approach is to provide you with those tools.

About Elissa Bishop-Becker, M.Ed., LPC, NCC, DCC

My own grief journey began in 1992 with a 3-year period of multiple transitions which included job loss, relocation, and the deaths of my daughter, Ericka, my father, and my grandfather. Three years after that, I enrolled in the Community Counseling program at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA, and received my M.Ed. (Master of Education) in 2000.

I am now a National Certified Counselor (NCC), a Distance Credentialed Counselor (DCC), and a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the state of Illinois. I am the co-founder of the Center for Transformative Counseling, Inc., a nonprofit corporation whose mission is “to expand personal and community awareness of grief and loss as opportunities for transformation.” I have given numerous talks, staff trainings, and presentations,  on various aspects of bereavement and was chosen as the Sophia Fahs Lecturer of 2005 by the Liberal Religious Educators Association. I volunteered with the Red Cross in September, 2005 and counseled survivors of Hurricane Katrina. I am the author of a book manuscript on the theory of Transformative Bereavement, and recently became an Adjunct Instructor at Florida Keys Community College, where I teach a course on the grief process.

Notable Achievements

Transformative Bereavement

As I studied and practiced, I began to see the pattern in the way I learned to recover from my losses. I evolved and formulated my theory of Transformative Bereavement, my clients responded and found new meaning and direction for their own lives, and colleagues observed and encouraged my work.

Transformative Bereavement is an expanded theory of grief and loss that has grown in my practice,  my personal experience with traumatic loss, and my research from the foundations in the ground-breaking work of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. Most current approaches to the grief process are based on her work, and most grievers identify with and accept the validity of her 5 stages. I discovered that grievers who reach her final stage of Acceptance are still in pain and asking, "Now what?" My theory is the "now what," and Kübler-Ross's theory is the first stage of mine (Loss). For more information about Transformative Bereavement, click here.

Sophia Fahs Lecturer 2005

An endowed lecture sponsored by the Liberal Religious Educators Association, I was privileged to be chosen for 2005 to present a lecture to over 500 people on "The Grief Spiral: The Transformative Power of Loss"

Listen to this 50-minute lecture and you will get a good overview of the 4 stages of the theory of Transformative Bereavement. Or read the transcript in pdf format.

About my Sophia Fahs Lecture, a reviewer wrote:

“On Saturday, June 25th Elissa Bishop-Becker, M.Ed., LPC, NCC joined a long line of distinguished and knowledgeable Sophia Fahs Lecturers at General Assembly. Her concise and well-formulated lecture on ‘The Grief Spiral: The Transformative Power of Loss’ gave the audience a new view of how children, youth and adults deal with death and loss.

“Ms. Bishop-Becker’s Transformative Bereavement model redefines the outdated medical model which views grieving as a journey done in a sequential, purely analytical straight line, and introduces it as a transformative spiral. Her theory combines the past and the present in a journey where ones grief redefines the relationship with the lost person (or community, identity or lifestyle), and transforms the individual into a new person with a new outlook and approach on life.

“This Transformative Bereavement model (a spiral) begins with Stage One: Loss, where one travels through the familiar and well-studied Elizabeth Kubler Ross five levels of grief (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance). Then Bishop-Becker, who has experienced grief and loss in many forms, says it is important for us not to stop here. It is important to continue through the stage of Return; over a Bridge of reflection and renewal, through a third stage of Reconnection and to a final stage of Creation. Even though each stage takes time and energy, the final product is a renewed sense of self and world.

“The journey travels a winding path which turns around on itself and appears to backtrack at times. Yet, the Transformative power of this journey can leave one in a mature and energized place that redefines ones relationship with the lost person (or situation) and provides a renewed outlook and calling in life. For Religious Educators, this understanding of the intricacies of grief gives us greater insights, understanding and a better working model for our day-to-day work in Lifespan Religious Education.”

--Michele Grove, DRE, Unitarian Universalist Church of Frederick, MD