Death with Dignity: Preparing for the Conversation

Presented and developed by Laurie Riepe, MA, LMHC

In 2008, Washington State passed Death with Dignity legislation, allowing terminal patients the right to end their lives. While the voters were decisive in granting this option, there has been little education or exploration of the law’s psychological, existential or even practical processes and implications. Mental health practitioners and health care professionals of all kinds find themselves on the frontlines with a public who has limited understanding of a powerful new right.

In the clinical setting, Death with Dignity (DwD) can spark the imagination of both therapist and client; it can also engender fear. What is our responsibility to suffering? What are the practical steps for using DwD? What happens when the family or community is in conflict with a DwD? What about the stigma? Who is responsible for the decision? How do we support loved ones in their grieving – is their grief unusual?

As therapists, we’re trained to go into high alert when someone in our practice expresses the wish to die, activating a process of intervention and evaluation. This workshop is focused on how we can learn to companion the dying – even when the questions they ask and options they consider challenge our own professional, spiritual and relational limits.

Infused throughout this workshop are the unique insights, perspectives and analysis of the presenter, a therapist and writer who experienced Death with Dignity with her husband in 2011. Workshop participants can expect an intimate and compelling first-person narrative, whole group discussion, small group work and individual reflection about this complex topic.

Workshop Objectives

  • Respond to clients with a broad familiarity of the steps required for DwD
  • Understand the psychological complexities for both the DwD "patient" and loved ones
  • Provide resources for clients considering DwD 
  • Anticipate the unique nature of grieving by loved ones involved in DwD

More on Laurie's website:

Continuing Education (CE) Information

6 CEs

Cascadia Training is an NBCC-Approved Continuing Education Provider (ACEP) and may offer NBCC-approved clock hours for events that meet NBCC requirements.  The ACEP solely is responsible for all aspects of the program.

Cascadia is also approved by the Washington State Office of Public Instruction as a "Washington State approved clock hour offering workshop."

Laurie Riepe, MA, LMHC

Laurie Riepe, MA, LMHC, offers psychotherapy in private practice with couples, individuals, teens and groups.  Working deeply and extensively in a transformative process, she supports her clients to explore the human experience within the context of freedom. Her background includes Eastern and Christian contemplative practices, yoga, Existential Psychology and Liberation Theory.

Laurie is dedicated to sharing the rich nuanced and vital conversation about choice and responsibility that lies at the center of our right to a death with dignity.

Through workshops, speaking engagements and writing, Laurie inspires professionals to develop courage regarding their work around death and grieving.  She encourages families and patients to deeply engage with life-finding meaning and joy even at the most difficult times.

Laurie has a wry sense of humor that she brings to all her work. Find out more at her website:

Upcoming Dates and Registration

No dates have been scheduled for this course. Please check back soon.

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