Development and Preliminary Evaluation of a Cognitive-Behavioral Intervention for Perinatal Grief

Shannon M. Bennett*, Jill Ehrenreich-May, Brett T. Litz, Christina L. Boisseau, David H. Barlow

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Perinatal loss, typically defined as fetal death beyond 20. weeks gestation through infant death 1-month postpartum, is a potentially traumatizing experience for parents occurring in approximately 1% of births in the United States. Although many women recover, 15% to 25% have enduring grief-related symptomatology and functional impairment. Perinatal grief is a unique bereavement experience, but clinical resources for detecting and treating severe perinatal grief are rare and interventions are largely without empirical support. We developed and pilot tested a cognitive-behavioral intervention targeting the psychological and behavioral sequelae of perinatal bereavement. To initially evaluate the feasibility and efficacy of the intervention, 5 women who suffered a perinatal loss were randomized to a 2-week, 4-week, or 6-week baseline period in a multiple-baseline single-case experimental design. In most cases, after the respective baseline periods, there was a steady decline in reported grief symptoms. These gains were largely maintained at a 6-week follow-up assessment. This study provides initial evidence in support of future research and clinical efforts tailoring cognitive behavioral interventions to meet the specific needs of women who experience perinatal loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-173
Number of pages13
JournalCognitive and Behavioral Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2012


  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Perinatal loss
  • Prolonged grief

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


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