Grief is a common emotion experienced by those who have been involved in an accident. According to Licensed Professional Counselor James Killian, “Grief counseling for those injured in serious accidents or those who have lost someone in an accident focuses on processing and exploring the emotional response to the tragedy.” He has experienced the difficult aftermath of being involved in a motor vehicle accident that could have claimed his life. Now, as the owner of Arcadian Counseling in Woodbridge, CT, Mr. Killian is able to connect with and assist those who are in a similar place.

What is the primary goal of a Licensed Professional Counselor, what attracted you to this line of work, and what has been your greatest accomplishment so far? 

James Killian, LPCThe primary goal of a licensed professional counselor is to help individuals learn how to live a more fulfilling life filled with purpose and meaning. One of the many ways to achieve this goal is by teaching clients how to manage their emotional responses to difficult thoughts, feelings, and situations so they can mindfully engage in actions and behaviors that move them toward the life they want instead of away from it.

What attracted me to become a Licensed Professional Counselor was a simple desire to help others. Like many, I struggled in my younger years and benefited from the support and guidance of caring individuals in this profession and others like it. I believe that there are those in life that want to help others and those that can help others. However, the combination of these two qualities is not very common. I believe I’m fortunate enough to possess both of these qualities.

I’m not quite sure I could pinpoint a single “accomplishment” as I don’t view my work in that way. But I will share this: On my last day at my practice in Arizona before relocating to Connecticut, I had lunch with my mentor. She asked me how my final sessions with my clients went. I told her each and every one showed up to say goodbye and thanked me. She then looked at me and said, “No matter what happens from this point forward in your life, you’ve helped change and improve other people’s lives and that is something many people don’t even get the opportunity to do in life. You should feel grateful and honored.” I did then and I do now. I’ve never forgotten that conversation and it’s something I bring to my work each day.

How is grief counseling different from other types of counseling? 

Grief counseling is similar to other types of counseling in that the objective is teaching individuals how to understand, improve, and manage their emotional response to difficult thoughts and feelings. However, the difference with grief counseling is the catalyst for clients seeking help is due to a significant and painful loss. This could be anything from the loss of a loved one to the loss of one’s health and well-being and everything in between.

What are the most common types of grief that you help your clients with and how do you go about helping them resolve these feelings? 

The most common type of grief that brings people to counseling is the loss of a loved one or the ending of a relationship. In this work, my focus is to first help clients understand the painful emotions related to the loss. I teach them how to process and explore their emotions so that they become an opportunity for growth, instead of an obstacle. They learn how to be present in the moment so they can open up to their internal and external experience. Together, we explore and uncover the values that drive and motivate them and ensure that their actions and behaviors are congruent with these values.

How could grief counseling aid in the healing process of those who were injured in serious accidents or those who have lost loved ones due to an accident? 

Grief counseling for those injured in serious accidents or those who have lost someone in an accident focuses on processing and exploring the emotional response to the tragedy. This involves teaching skills to help clients better understand and manage their emotions as well as values based work around who they want to be and how they want to show up in the face of the tragedy. The work is a combination a skills-learning and processing the emotional experience.

Do you feel there is still a stigma that is attached to mental health issues and obtaining treatment? 

I believe the stigma attached to mental health issues and seeking treatment for these issues still exists in certain populations and generations. However, I’m happy to say that I believe we are beginning to witness this stigma rapidly fade.

How would you advise people who are hesitant in seeking counseling? 

I would tell them that there is no courage or honor in suffering needlessly. People who have the strength to reach out for help when they need it are the strong one. I would also tell them to focus on finding someone they like and trust. Countless studies have shown that the most important factor in determining a successful outcome of counseling is the quality of the relationship between counselor and client.

Pro Tip:   Accidents that involve significant injuries sometimes require the services of an injury attorney and a mental health professional who can assist in a variety of accident cases. Should you have any questions about your Connecticut accident case, please contact us.

If you are struggling with mental illness and feel suicidal, are thinking about hurting yourself, or are concerned that someone you know may be in danger of hurting themselves, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.