Why should my Social Work, Psychology, or Human Services Department be using this documentary to teach students about grief and bereavement therapy?

The main reason that professors should be using the Secret Map of Surviving Loss is that it uniquely provides what we call “the man in the hole” experience. The subjects in the film, while very articulate, are in the full rawness of grief after their losses. If your students will be doing any kind of work with the bereaved, they will not be able to get a closer first-hand experience of what their work will be like without actual live practice with clients for some time. When your students actually get to field practice, having viewed this film will make that practice all the more better for both your students and their future clients.

(For more on “man in the hole” aspect of the film, please read this short essay.)

How does my college/university use this in our curricula?

For the feature film, just show the film as you would any other film or video materials. However, for the supplemental material, the half-hour Good Grieving: A Guide to Group Facilitation we recommend that you also download the .pdf of the Bereavement Group Guide by Diane Brennan of Life & Loss Mental Health Counseling (and formerly of the Bereavement Department at Visiting Nurse Service of NY) available with purchase. From there, you can begin your discussion and teaching on the best practices for group counseling.

Everyone in the film is white and graying. How does this work in my teaching on a diverse campus? Or in my efforts to support ethnic and racial diversity?

Grief is colorblind. The phenomena of shock, secondary losses, triggers, sign & dreams, etc. occur just the same no matter what one’s race or what kind of loss one has had. If one is blind to color, one can appreciate the truth in the words and stories of grief in film regardless of the subjects’ racial or ethnic backgrounds.
However, recognizing that people are not as colorblind as grief is, statistics show that currently (and at the time of shooting in 2014), a remarkable disparity between the number of minorities in the American populace and the number of minorities professionally practicing and receiving counseling. As recently as 2013 (the last available study), the American Psychological Association reported that over 83% of the counseling/therapy workforce was caucasian (down from 90% 3 years prior). In addition, the majority of clients seeking complicated grief treatment are older (aged 45 and up) and caucasian according to the National Institute of Mental Health in a study reported in 2014 (that ran from 2005 to 2013.) While the sphere of professional counselors and those seeking treatment is evolving towards greater diversity, the Secret Maps Project reflects the world in which it was shot and the population of those most likely to seek out bereavement counseling.

If my library or department has no budget to acquire the DVD, how can I still use it for teaching?

You can have your students buy it. And by that we mean stream it. It costs $49 to stream for a month (and we are looking at extending the window based on university feedback) which is far less than most of the textbooks your students buy.

This sounds great but I'd like to check the films out before asking my to make a purchase. What do I do?

Contact us from your official university email address and we will set you up with a short window to stream and preview the films online for free.