Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Professional Certification Programs in Grief and Bereavement

[Reviewed and updated April 6, 2023]

A license authorizes a person to practice in a particular specialty in healthcare. Certification through a national board affirms advanced knowledge, skill, and practice to meet the challenges of that specialty, and it contributes to better patient outcomes. Certification is a voluntary process, and is sought by those who care enough to earn and maintain the highest credentials in their specialty, thereby demonstrating a commitment to excellence in practice. Certification requires coursework, experience in the field, successful completion of a standardized exam, and ongoing continuing education and professional development. (Note that certification differs from programs offering only a certificate upon completion of course work, in that certificate programs do not offer standardized testing of knowledge and do not require ongoing continuing education.) ~ Marty Tousley

A reader writes: I am at a crossroads in my life. I feel I am being drawn to grief education. I want to become a certified bereavement counselor/educator/specialist. I have no idea where my path is going, only that I need to take the journey. I have been told there is special training/certification I need for that, but I can't find anything at the different universities. Any information you can provide would be helpful. 

My response: Below is a list of the programs of which I am aware. (Note that links to these programs are accurate as of February 2023. If you know of any other reputable program you'd like to see listed here, please feel free to add it in the Comments section, below.)
  • The Association for Death Education and Counseling® (ADEC) is the premier international, professional organization dedicated to promoting excellence and recognizing diversity in death education, care of the dying, grief counseling and research in thanatology. Based on quality research, theory and practice, the association provides information, support and resources to its international, multicultural, multidisciplinary membership and to the public. ADEC offers a two-level certification program for thanatology professionals awarding the credentials of Certification in Thanatology (CT)  and Fellow in Thanatology (FT). 
  • The American Grief Academy offers several different certifications: the Grief Service Provider, the Grief Support Group Facilitator, the Cemetery Grief Service Provider, the Military Grief Support Provider, the Insurance Industry Grief Support Provider, and the Grief Management Specialist.   
  • Hood College offers a Certificate in Thanatology; the program is designed to conform to the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) certification requirements for those interested in becoming certified as death educators, grief counselors or grief therapists.
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    1. Marty, thanks so much for including our program here. Wanted to just add that Cath Duncan from Remembering For Good is co-curator with me on the Creative Grief Coaching Studio offerings, too. Thanks so much!

    2. You are most welcome, Kara, and thank you for giving credit to your co-curator ♥

    3. Thanks for compiling this helpful list of grief and bereavement certification programs.

    4. I'm pleased to learn that you found it helpful! Thanks so much for letting me know ♥


    Your comments are welcome!