Earning a grief counseling degree may be the appropriate career choice for an individual with an interest in helping others deal with issues related to death and loss.
What Is a Grief Counselor?
A grief counselor is a certified or degreed professional who helps others heal and manage the pain and stress of separation from loved ones or other difficult emotional situations. Grief counselors work with individuals alone or in group settings.
Grief Counseling Levels of Learning
While some grief counselors have only obtained certifications in their field, those who want the freedom to work in a broad range of areas work toward a degree. The levels of learning these professionals undertake begins with a bachelor degree and may work up to a master's and finally end in counseling experience, all before beginning a grief counseling career. Here is a breakdown of those steps:
- Bachelor's Degree-First level of a degreed education
- Master's Degree-Next level of learning, arming professionals with a higher level of expertise in the industry.
- Internship-Provides you with valuable job experience in the grief-counseling arena. These positions may last for several years, and are supervised by an experienced professional who helps prepare you for your role. You may work as an intern in a healthcare setting, at a private practice, or in a church.
- Volunteer Position-Similar to an internship, as you acquire experience and preparation for your career. Both an internship and volunteer position are not needed. One or the other is sufficient.
What You Will Learn
While working toward your degree in grief counseling, you will be taking classes including:
- Death and dying
- General psychology
- End of life issues
- Cultural issues
- Caring for the dying and bereaved
- Children and grief
Certification is the last step before beginning a grief counseling career. Some employers require counselors be certified.
Where You Will Work
As a grief counselor, you may have the option to work in various facilities, such as funeral homes, hospices, hospitals, social service agencies, outpatient care facilities, and private practices. The higher level of education you earn may better your chances of getting the position you desire.
Grief Counseling Course Alternatives
For those desiring to earn a degree in grief counseling, several schooling alternatives exist. Those working other jobs or caring for children may pursue their education online. Online education is becoming increasing popular, as it is a valid way to become educated. The advantages to online learning are freedom and flexibility. However, the drawbacks might include minimal opportunities to seek help and guidance from peers as well as support and encouragement that is often forged in classroom settings.
If you are still unsure if grief counseling is the right career for you, you may want to speak with a practicing counselor, find books on the subject or talk to an educational institution to find out what the career entails. For those who feel a grief counseling degree is a worthwhile endeavor, you may want to begin looking for a school and obtaining information.