Imaginal relationships with the dead: Applications for psychotherapy

Sandra M. Dannenbaum, Richard Kinnier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


This study explores possible therapeutic benefits derived from imaginal relationships with deceased loved ones. Using grounded theory methodology, triangulation of the qualitative data was attained through analysis of three data sets: responses from experts, interviews with elders, and a search using LexisNexis. Replicated findings or "global assertions" indicate that imaginal relationships with the deceased are common, "normal," and therapeutic. Reported therapeutic benefits include feeling cared for and loved, experiencing resolution of grief and relationship conflicts, and experiencing increased confidence in problem solving and decision making. The discussion focuses on applications in counseling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)100-113
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Humanistic Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009


  • Dialogical selves
  • Imaginal relationships
  • Imaginary conversations
  • Psychotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science


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