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How to Become a Grief Counselor in New York

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Grief counseling can offer a rewarding, challenging career that requires the ability to empathize, be compassionate, and offer sympathy to those who are going through the bereavement process. Grief counselors are often licensed professionals in another area, such as social work, psychology, medicine, or funeral services. Becoming a grief counselor in New York entails completing a process of certification by the American Academy of Grief Counseling. There is no state-based certification in New York.

Obtain credentials in a helping profession. The American Academy Of Grief Counseling requires that applicants who wish to become a certified grief counselor are currently licensed in the field of nursing, social work, professional counseling, psychology, educational counseling, or medicine; or they must have a degree in human services, psychology, or human behavior; or currently work as an ordained minister, a licensed funeral director, or a pastoral counselor in active ministry. People who hold degrees in other fields may also qualify if they can show that they have significant job experience in working in the area of grief and bereavement. You must then complete EITHER step two or step three.

Complete an official grief counseling or bereavement program. The American Academy of Grief Counseling provides a list of approved programs on its website. The curriculum of these courses must pertain to several specific areas, including theories on death and dying, grief counseling, bereavement, and specific courses on bereavement and grief in children. Grief counseling courses are very specific and although most degree programs for human services professionals include courses on death and dying or grief and bereavement, obtaining a higher level of knowledge on the grief process is vital in order to provide the best help to your clients.

Complete a continuing education program in grief counseling offered by the American Academy for Grief Counseling. The courses are offered as distance education courses, and this method may be a convenient way for working professionals to attain certification as a grief counselor. The American Academy for Grief Counseling outlines the full program on its website. It includes much of the same material as outlined in step two, and offers four online courses enabling completion of the 100 hours of coursework specific to grief counseling.


Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.

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