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Health Forum Online    The Psychologist's Source for C.E. Credits Online

Near-Death Experiences: Implications for Clinical Practice

by Cheryl L. Fracasso, PhD & Harris L. Friedman, PhD 4 CE Credits

Near-Death Experience (NDE) represents an altered state of consciousness that has been linked to several neurochemical/neuroanatomic models, including theories that suggest anoxia, hypoxia, ketamine, or increased endorphins are released in a dying brain. Although NDEs are increasingly being reported in critical care settings, most healthcare professionals lack a sufficient knowledge base and associated clinical skills regarding this phenomenon. This course synthesizes 33 years of evidence-based research on NDEs, including its frequency, prevalence, short-term and long-term effects, assessment strategies, DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria for normative spiritual/transpersonal experiences, and associated barriers to and implications for treatment in a clinical setting. Specifically, the key characteristics reported by those experiencing NDEs are reviewed, with sensitivity to cross-cultural comparisons of characteristics reported by Western and non-Western accounts.

Current diagnostic criteria and various biopsychosocial assessments for NDEs are provided; each with a discussion of relevant religious, spiritual, and/or transpersonal issues. Lastly, clinical implications for treatment are addressed along with important barriers to treatment that can occur when co-morbid Axis I or Axis II DSM-IV-TR disorders exist.


Continuing education for this online course is offered through the following approvals:


  • HealthForum is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. HealthForum maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
  • HealthForum (ACE Provider #1156) is approved as a provider for social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) www.aswb.org, through the Approved Continuing Education (ACE) Program. HealthForum maintains responsibility for the program. ASWB Approval Period: (6/20/2017 to 6/20/2020). Social workers should contact their regulatory board to determine course approval for continuing education credits. Social workers participating in this course will receive 4 Clinical continuing education clock hours.
  • HealthForum has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6216.  Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. HealthForum is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.


Course Sections/Outline:

  • Introduction: What is a Near-Death Experience?
  • Incidence: How Common are NDEs?
  • Prevalence
  • Cross-Cultural Comparisons
  • Causal Theories
  • The Effects of NDE
  • Integrating the NDE Over Time
  • Clinical Implications Regarding Diagnosis
  • Psychotherapeutic Strategies
  • Summary
  • Web-based Resources
  • References

Learning Objectives:

After completing this course, health professionals will be able to:
  • Define a near death experience (NDE) including its prevalence and cross-cultural comparisons.
  • Identify 7 leading causal theories along with the strengths and weaknesses of each model.
  • Describe at least 6 common short- and long-term effects associated with NDEs.
  • Improve diagnostic accuracy by implementing the use of the DSM-IV V-Code 62.89 and 2 assessment measures to assist with differential diagnosis.
  • Identify at least 5 therapeutic strategies applicable to the NDE population.