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.

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Gloria Horsley

Dr. Gloria Horsley is an internationally known grief expert, psychotherapist, and bereaved parent. She started "Open to Hope" to help the millions in the world with grief. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Clinical Nurse Specialist, and has worked in the field of family therapy for over 20 years. Dr. Horsley hosts the syndicated internet radio show, The Grief Blog which is one of the top ranked shows on Health Voice America. She serves the Compassionate Friends in a number of roles including as a Board of Directors, chapter leader, workshop facilitator, and frequently serves as media spokesperson. Dr. Horsley is often called on to present seminars throughout the country. She has made appearances on numerous television and radio programs including "The Today Show," "Montel Williams," and "Sallie Jessie Raphael." In addition, she has authored a number of articles and written several books including Teen Grief Relief with Dr. Heidi Horlsey, and The In-Law Survival Guide.

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