How to become certified in grief counseling

Updated April 17, 2017

Grief counsellors provide support and guidance to people suffering from a loss in their life. The loss can be because of death, divorce or a broken friendship. You may decide to become a grief counsellor because you enjoy helping people, or maybe you were helped by a counsellor in a time of need and want to repay the favour to society. Whatever the reason, you will need to become certified to practice grief counselling.

Most universities or online colleges require you to have a minimum of a Bachelor's degree in a related field, such as psychology, sociology or human development. You will be required to take continuing education credits on a yearly basis to maintain your certification.

Find a program that specialises in grief counselling certification. The American Academy of Grief Counseling provides extensive education and training to help you meet your goal of becoming a grief counsellor.

Be sure you meet all the educational requirements prior to applying. Most schools require you to hold at least an undergraduate degree before obtaining any type of certification.

Complete the application process for the certificate program. Most schools will require you to provide a copy of your undergraduate degree and/or college transcripts. You will have to pay an application and processing fee, but you may be able to start classes immediately, if you apply to an online college.

Complete the required courses, usually consisting of 4 to 5 classes or 100 hours. The classes you will need to complete generally include a basic course on death and dying, grief counselling techniques and specialisation classes on working with the terminally ill and children. A minimum grade of C is usually required for certification.

Complete the application for certification. You will need to provide proof of your educational hours in grief counselling and pay a £113 fee, as of November 2010. If you are certified, your certification will be valid for a period of 3 years.

Take continuing education credits by attending approved seminars and lectures provided throughout the 3 year period. The American Academy of Grief Counseling also requires you practice a minimum of 500 hours of counselling during your certification period. Keep all copies of lectures and seminars you attend, as well as logging all face-to-face hours for recertification purposes.


Grief counselling can be a stressful job, so taking care of yourself is important.

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About the Author

Michelle Blessing has experience in child development, parenting, social relationships and mental health, enhanced by her work as a clinical therapist and parent educator. Blessing's work has appeared in various online publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and is pursuing her master's degree in psychology with a specialization in applied behavior analysis.