Betty writes in: I am 50 years old and lost my only child to suicide 10 years ago. I need to help others to make myself feel better; this is what I want to do. How do you become a grief counselor?
Dr. Gloria Horsley, founder of the Open to Hope Foundation, replies: Hi Betty: It is good that you are thinking about how you can make meaning from your loss. Let me first say that losing your only child to suicide has set you on a path and a journey that few will ever follow. You are a survivor, and with the skills you have learned, I’m sure that you can help many.
There are many ways that you can become a “grief counselor”. For one thing, you would make a fantastic volunteer. There are many organizations that would welcome you and would train you to be a volunteer mentor. Now if you want to get licensed, that is a longer road and can be approached through nursing, psychology, medicine, counseling programs and other tracts that require masters, and Ph.D. degrees.
You could contact your local collage or go on-line to look at these programs. In order to qualify for a license, you also have to do pre- and post-college hours. There is also the coaching tract, which is not so rigorous. However, it is difficult to get jobs or insurance with a coaching certificate or degree.
You might also check out ADEC (Association of Death Education and Counseling) on the internet. They have a special grief counseling degree in Thanatology. I hope this has been helpful and will inspire you to check out a program. They may seem like a long haul, but there is a lot of joy along the way. Good Luck and Best Wishes.
Gloria C. Horsley Ph.D.