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How to Become a Bereavement Counselor

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Bereavement counselors help grieving adults and children cope with death by providing them with support and counseling. They are sometimes known as grief or loss counselors. These counselors typically work one-on-one with clients, often on a weekly or biweekly basis. During the initial session, they gather information about the client’s situation and feelings. By listening carefully and asking questions, the bereavement counselor can assess which stage the client is at in the grieving process and help them cope with their loss.

Take several high school courses that relate to this position, if possible. Suggested courses include family and consumer sciences, social studies, child care and English.

Apply to colleges. A number of bachelor’s degree programs provide good preparation for a career in bereavement counseling. Common areas of study include psychology, social work or theology. A master’s degree is not strictly necessary, but can be helpful and is required by some employers.

Participate in a co-op placement or internship if it is available at your college. With this program, you'll get to work alongside a bereavement counselor and experience firsthand what they do. Although you'll not be directly working with the client, you will get a feel for the work environment and will be able to list the experience on your résumé.

Enroll in workshops and seminars to upgrade your skills in specific areas. These are offered by some experienced bereavement counselors and grief counseling centers, as well as health care agencies such as palliative care units. These programs and courses can range from one day to about two months in length. Some aspiring bereavement counselors also volunteer for hospices or similar organizations, which may provide training.

Get a certificate from the American Academy of Grief Counseling. Once you obtain a certificate, you will become a Certified Grief Counselor.

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