What is a Grief Counselor?

Grief CounselorA grief counselor is an individual trained in helping others deal with traumatic and life altering experiences. Often employed by hospitals and medical facilities, they may also work for funeral homes and in counseling centers. They help their clients go through each of the five stages of grief recorded by psychologists and work hard to ensure that those clients learn how to cope with their emotions and feelings at home. Entering this field requires a college degree and some training in counseling.

What Does a Counselor Do?

People experience grief due to a number of problems in their personal lives. It might come about because of the loss of a loved one or a pet, losing a job or stress at work. A grief counselor helps the client come to grips with his or her feelings and find healthy outlets for those emotions. The five stages of grief include denial, anger, bargaining, acceptance and grief, and counselors help clients work their way through each of those steps until they feel happy and confident enough that they can face the world ahead without professional help.

Where Do Counselors Work?

Counselors specializing in grief can work in a variety of settings, including in funeral homes, hospitals, private practice and counseling centers. Many funeral homes offer bereavement counseling for customers dealing with the loss of loved ones, but they may also work in practices that specialize funerals and funeral services for pets. Hospitals also need counselors on staff to work with the loved ones of patients in the ICU ward and those struggling with a recent diagnosis of a serious medical condition. Some counselors start their own practices and offer support and assistance to those with or without health insurance.

How to Become a Grief Counselor

If you want to work in the grief counseling field, you should prepare yourself to spend years in college. After earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology, counseling or one of the other social sciences, you need to earn your master’s degree in grief or bereavement counseling. Many of these programs require that you spend two years working in the classroom and an additional third year working in a clinical setting. You’ll gain even more clinical experience during your Ph.D program. Not all employers require a Ph.D for counseling, but you will need a minimum of a master’s degree in the field.

How Much Do Counselors Make?

Bereavement counselors offer mental health counseling for those struggling with grief and loss. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the median salary for mental health counselors is $41,500 a year. When looking at the future outlook for this career, the BLS discovered that the outlook is positive. Between 2012 and 2022, the BLS estimates that the number of mental health counselors will increase by 48,200 jobs. The valuable skills that you gain in graduate school combined with the experiences that you have in clinical settings will help you find a job working as a bereavement counselor.

Related Resource: Family Services Director

Counseling is an important field that often deals with mental issues and the emotions and feelings of others. Bereavement counselors help clients combat the grief they feel after losing a loved one or a pet or after other traumatic events. Working as a grief counselor requires that you gain clinical experience at the graduate level.