Here is the truth. Not all counselors are going to make good grief counselors. This is not to say that these counselors aren’t well meaning. They usually are. It is simply that the universal experience of grief/bereavement is not spoken much about in the course of their education. Most graduate programs do not require specific courses in death, dying and grief. Some programs do not even offer a specific course in the subject but may be briefly covered as part of a human development course. Unfortunately, this can create a situation where the counselor, unaware of his or her own misgivings about grief, can cause harm to the client. Some counselors do try and get additional education on this subject in the form of a continuing education class or two and some staff this subject with peers or in their time in clinical supervision (a time where the counselor is working but still not fully licensed where they meet weekly to staff cases and learn).
You, as the client, have no way of knowing at the initial phone call if the potential counselor is trained in grief/bereavement unless you ask some questions. Counselors are usually open to answering a few questions about his/her counseling style/education/methods. It’s not weird when you are considering with whom to share your story (not to mention the investment time and money) to ask a few questions. Here are some ideas:
There are some general questions you should be asking any counselor:
-Where are you located?
-What do you charge for sessions? Do you offer a sliding scale fee or accept insurance?
-What is your licensure?
-Is there parking available?
-Do you accept credit cards?
-What’s your helping/counseling style?
In addition to these question, when choosing a grief counselor it’s important to ask:
-What is a typical grief-counseling session like?
-What particular techniques do you use in counseling those with grief?
-Do you have any specific training in counseling those in grief?
-Are you certified in grief counseling?
-What experience do you have in the bereavement field?
-How do I know if I need grief counseling?
While asking these questions, you should be looking for a counselor with with following qualifications:
-He/she is knowledgeable about grief and life transitions.
-He/she charges reasonable fees for your area.
-He/she has some kind of credentials/licensure.
-He/she that has experience with this topic and an understanding about how to help those through the grief process.
If you are not sure about if you need to see a counselor for grief, Our friends at What’s Your Grief put together a good list about the normal and “not so normal” responses to the death/loss of a loved one. You can find it at:
At Stories of Hope Counseling, our counselors have specific training in counseling those who have experienced a loss or life transition. We believe that loss does not necessarily mean that a death has occurred, but can include the loss of a relationship (either through breakup or divorce), the loss of a pet, the loss of an idea or dream, loss of a job, trauma and other losses not necessarily listed as part of this post. If you or someone you know is in need of grief counseling in the Tulsa area we ask you to consider us. With a trained counselor, grief can become a manageable part of life as you learn how to cope and make meaning from your experience.
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