Complicated Grief Treatment (CGT)


(For resources, this is the publication date. For programs, this is the date posted.)


The Center for Complicated Grief, Columbia School of Social Work

Visit The Center for Complicated Grief for the cost of training and materials.

Also see the archived NREPP listing.

Complicated Grief Treatment (CGT) targets adults experiencing complicated grief (CG), also known as prolonged grief disorder, traumatic grief, or persistent complex bereavement disorder. If left untreated, CG may result in impaired long-term functioning. CGT is based on a model of grief as a natural response to the death of a loved one that typically decreases in intensity as the bereaved person adapts to the loss. CG occurs when something interferes with the coping and adaptation process and bereavement becomes stalled.

CGT is designed to promote resilience and access to natural adaptive processes. It is a semi-structured, manualized treatment administered by a licensed and trained therapist. The intervention includes seven core procedures: (1) psychoeducation about CG and CGT; (2) self-assessment and self-regulation; (3) aspirational goals work; (4) rebuilding connections; (5) revisiting the story of the death; (6) revisiting the world changed by the loss; and (7) addressing memories and continuing bonds. CGT is provided through 16 45-minute sessions, which are organized into four phases. Training and program materials are available through The Center for Complicated Grief of the Columbia School of Social Work.

Designation as a “Program with Evidence of Effectiveness”

SPRC designated this intervention as a “program with evidence of effectiveness” based on its inclusion in SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP). 

Outcome(s) Reviewed (Evidence Rating)*

  • Trauma and Stress-related Disorders and Symptoms (Effective)
  • General Functioning and Well-being (Effective)
  • Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors (Promising)
  • Depression and Depressive Symptoms (Promising)

Read more about this program’s ratings.


* NREPP changed its review criteria in 2015. This program was reviewed under the post-2015 criteria. To help practitioners find programs that fit their needs, NREPP reviews the evidence for specific outcomes, not overall programs. Each outcome was assigned an evidence rating of Effective, Promising, or Ineffective. A single program may have multiple outcomes with different ratings. When considering programs, we recommend (a) assessing whether the specific outcomes achieved by the program are a fit for your needs; and (b) examining the strength of evidence for each outcome.

2012 NSSP Objectives Addressed: 

Objective 10.2: Provide appropriate clinical care to individuals affected by a suicide attempt or bereaved by suicide, including trauma treatment and care for complicated grief.