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Grief Therapist Job Description, Career as a Grief Therapist, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: Advanced Degree

Salary: Median— $43,000 annually

Employment Outlook: Good

Grief therapist is a professional counselor who helps individuals come to terms with their losses and cope with their grief. Failure, death, loss, or any kind of social, spiritual, and psychological trauma comes within the purview of grief therapy. A grief therapist uses specialized techniques to treat mental stress and strain.

Grief therapy may require multiple sessions through which the therapist helps an individual express his/ her suppressed reactions. The counseling depends on the type of grief the person is suffering from. Music therapy, creation of personalized rituals, and meditation are some of the techniques used commonly by grief therapists. They may work on a one-to-one basis or conduct group counseling.

Education and Training Requirements

A bachelor’s degree is the minimum academic requirement needed to become a grief therapist. However, an advanced degree in related subjects like medicine, theology, and psychology is often preferable. Those with a master’s degree in psychology or social work can enjoy better employment opportunities. One can also opt for an advanced degree coupled with 2 years of supervised post-degree work in therapy and counseling.

There are a number of colleges offering academic training in the field of grief management and therapeutic techniques. The American Academy of Grief Counseling, operating under the American Institute of Health Care Professionals, provides online training programs and voluntary certification to potential grief therapists.

The Association for Death Education and Counseling, American Association of Suicidology, and U.S. National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization offer certifications in the respective fields. However, this certification is not mandatory in order to practice as a grief therapist in the United States. Those wishing to pursue a career in the field of social work or psychology, on the other hand, need to possess a state license.

Getting the Job

Grief therapists can be employed by the government or can choose to go into private practice. Job openings in various public and private establishments such as vocational rehabilitation centers, correctional institutions, healthcare facilities, job training centers, career development institute, and social agencies, are often advertised in the classified sections of newspapers and job sites on the Internet.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Grief therapists may start out by working for hospitals and clinics. One can also begin by finding an experienced grief therapist mentor. After gathering substantial experience, grief therapists can move into private practice or opt for supervisory positions in clinical establishments and rehabilitation centers. Some even choose to author self-help books, teach in educational institutes, or present talks at correctional facilities and conferences.

The need for grief therapists will continue to rise in the coming years. The rate of advancement and degree of growth in this profession depends on the therapist’s field of specialization. Employment opportunities are expected to rise by 21% between 2006 and 2016.

Working Conditions

Grief therapists usually work in private secluded areas like churches, mental health clinics, schools, juvenile service centers, or funeral homes. Consoling a bereaved individual and helping him/ her cope with loss is extremely stressful. Therapists do not usually have fixed work hours. Those who are employed by the government need to be available at all times of the day and night in order to help with crisis situations of death and trauma.

Where to Go for More Information

American Counseling Association
5999 Stevenson Ave.
Alexandria, VA 22304

Association for Death Education and Counseling
111 Deer Lake Road, Suite 100
Deerfield, IL 60015 USA

Hospice Foundation of America
1621 Connecticut Ave NW # 300
Washington, DC

National Hospice Foundation
1731 King Street, Suite 200
Alexandria, Virginia 22314

Salary, Earnings and Benefits

According to records of 2009, grief therapists earned a median annual salary of $43,000. Those working as bereavement counselors report entry level salaries of $19,760 per year, and the average annual salary of experienced counselors is around $29,940. Grief counselors, on the other hand, earn around $37,000 per year. Experienced grief therapists can earn up to $75,920 every year. Those in private practice usually earn higher amounts.

Grief therapists employed in an organization enjoy usual benefits like paid leaves and vacations, and medical and life insurance.

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