chapter  20
The Retrospective Profile and the Facilitated Family Retreat
WithMadelyn Schwartz
Pages 10

The Retrospective Profi le (RP) and the Facilitated Family Retreat (FFR) grew out of my work as a coroner’s death investigator and my subsequent interactions with survivors of suicide. The RP is an expanded psychological autopsy (a contemporary adaptation of the psychological autopsy work of Edwin Shneidman and colleagues, e.g., Shneidman & Farberow, 1961), which has evolved over time from being an interview between the investigator and one to two individuals at a time, to the broader context of the extended family and those whom they would invite to join the conversation. It has been used effectively for more than 15 years as both an investigative tool in the examination of known suicides as well as equivocal deaths, and as a means to help families understand what was likely to have been happening in the life of a loved one to cause that person to opt for suicide. The FFR is an original concept I developed after years of working with survivors of suicide. It combines a contemporary version of the model of the psychological autopsy with group process and grief counseling theory to create a safe haven for survivors to explore

their emotions, history, and knowledge of and interconnectedness with the deceased individual and each other. FFR arose as a response to the request of a survivor for a family intervention after the suicide death of her brother. The RP is used as the means of accumulating information in the larger context of a gathering of numerous individuals who knew the decedent, and the information is processed with everyone present.