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Grief Counseling Certification Guide and Information

Welcome to the information page and guide for Grief Counseling. We thank you for your visit. Here you will find detailed information on how you may become certified in this ever growing mental health practice specialty.

What is Grief Counseling?


Grief counseling is a mental health intervention which seeks to provide information, education and support for those who are grieving. It includes assessing people's responses to grief from a holistic model of care, to include physical symptoms, psychological reactions and spiritual dimensions of their grief. It focuses on the "normal" stages and experiences of grief in response to a significant loss. It seeks to assist people in understanding the normal processes of grief as well as to identify specific pathological responses. Certified Grief counselors work with the normal grief process and provide support and interventions to assist clients in this normal life experience. Grief therapists or practitioners focus more on advanced aspects of grief counseling, including psychotherapies and other advanced interventions. Grief counseling always focuses on assessment of more pathological issues and referral processes to higher levels of care.

woman alone in grief

What are the requirements for entering a certification program?

It is important that Grief Counselors first be licensed health care professionals, or credentialed in a related mental health/spiritual practice field. Commonly, certified grief counselors are psychologists, physicians, nurses, social workers, professional counselors or have attained college degrees in related areas such as psychology, human services, community mental health, etc. Certified grief counselors may also be licensed funeral directors or licensed and ordained clergy. Professional programs of certification will have these types of pre-requisites for candidates seeking a certification in grief counseling. Certification is a voluntary process, generally carried out by a professional organization. It defines standards of education and practice in a specific specialty health care practice and provides validation and confirmation that a certified member has indeed achieved the defined knowledge and skills level to work with those who are in grief.

What grief counseling education and training is needed?

It is important that Grief Counselors have completed a quality program of education and training in the subject matter. Many health care program curriculums designed to prepare professionals for licensure do not provide enough in-depth education in the areas of grief and bereavement. For this reason, schools and organizations have more recently developed more in-depth education and training programs. An example of this is the education and certification program offered by the American Academy of Grief Counseling. This program is opened only to those who are already licensed health care professionals, or are licensed as funeral directors or clergy. The program consists of four core courses in grief counseling, providing in-depth education. The courses are all by distance education in online classrooms. They are independent study with one-to-one faculty mentoring. They form the foundational education requirement for candidates to become certified in grief counseling. The program consists of one-hundred hours of education/training. Upon completion, students can opt to continue with their Fellowship program and/or their Child and Adolescent grief counseling program. They also offer an education speciality in Christian Grief Counseling. Their latest program additions are in Pet Loss Grief Counseling and an advanced practice education program as a Grief Recovery Practitioner. You may review their core program by visiting here.

How can I become certified in grief counseling?

Several types of certification program exist today that offer a grief counseling certification. Some of the programs require completion of a specific education program. Others may confer certification by passing a comprehensive examination. An internet search will provide you with the organizations offering certification. There are also college level programs that are being offered today that lead to a "Certificate" upon completion. While a certificate is an excellent credential to have, it is not the same as a professional "certification." Certifications are most generally offered by professional organizations and are renewable. Certifications are based on one achieving the defined quality standards for verification of skills/abilities in a particular practice specialty. You may learn more about grief counseling certification by accessing the links on this page to specific social media sites.



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