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Grief Counseling Certification and Certificate Program Info

Explore certificate programs and certification options for those who aspire to careers in grief counseling. Read on for info about prerequisites, coursework and employment outlook statistics.

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Essential Information

A grief counselor works with patients who have suffered personal losses. There is no single educational path for becoming a grief counselor, but professional certification usually requires some type of formal training program, such as a Certificate of Grief Counseling. Other certification requirements include passing an examination and participating in continuing education programs.

Universities and independent certifying organizations such as the American Academy of Grief Counseling offer certificate programs in grief counseling. They were developed for individuals who have diverse educational and professional backgrounds and who counsel the bereaved as a primary or secondary part of their professions.

Some individuals eligible for a certificate program in grief counseling include registered nurses, professional counselors, licensed social workers and community counselors. Students may learn methods of counseling to help patients overcome feelings of bereavement and trauma. Courses in the certificate program cover stages of grief and healing processes. Programs may consist of lectures, internships and group experiences.

Education Prerequisites

Certificate programs in grief counseling require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree, and have an educational or professional background in counseling or health science. Students who have professional experience as counselors, psychologists, social workers or health care professionals are also eligible to apply. Some programs accept students simultaneously earning a master's degree in counseling.

Program Coursework

Most courses offered in a graduate certificate program in grief counseling are taught through lecture and simulated group experience. Some programs also include supervised field site experiences or an internship experience. Common courses include:

  • Grief and bereavement
  • Human development
  • Cultural effects of loss
  • Physiological manifestations of grief
  • Grief counseling interventions
  • Legal and ethical challenges of grief counseling

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

In addition to licensed grief counselors, other professionals who communicate with the bereaved may pursue a grief counseling certificate. Some of these include:

  • Grief counselor
  • Social worker
  • Funeral home director
  • Registered nurse
  • Child and family counselor

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of employed mental health counselors was projected to grow 36% during the 2010-2020 decade. This is faster than the national average of 14% for all career fields. As of 2012, the median salary for mental health counselors was $40,080, per the BLS.


The American Academy of Grief Counseling offers certification for grief counselors and other community leaders working in the mental health field. In addition to completing a recognized program in grief counseling, individuals interested in gaining certification from the organization must also complete its online continuing education courses. Another organization to offer certification in the profession is the Association for Death Education and Counseling.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics