How do I achieve a career in grief counseling?

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Jan 4, 2024
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Hi! My name is Kacie and I currently hold a bachelors in psychology from West Chester University. I am wondering if anyone can give me advice on how to go about pursuing a career in grief counseling. I am thinking about going into the path of getting my masters in clinical mental health counseling. I currently volunteer at a grief center. Thank you in advance!

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Short, broad answer: get a degree that allows for independent clinical practice (e.g., MSW) and then while doing so and/or afterward, obtain focused, supervised clinical training providing grief counseling. It's possible you may finish a program with very little clinical experience, so there may be a decent amount of post-grad work involved. I personally can't speak to the pros/cons of the different masters-level licenses (e.g., LCSW vs. LMHC), but I'm sure other folks here can.

I'm not sure if focusing solely on grief counseling would be sufficient to support a career, but it could certainly be at least a part of what you do.
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To follow up on AcronymAllergy, here's a document I wrote which outlines the major pathways available for a career in independent psychotherapy practice:

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I currently volunteer at a grief center.
In addition to the good advice already offered, I would ask people that you volunteer with about their education. Most likely, they did a clinical master's degree, tried to get some supervised experiences, and then found a suitable job and learned as they went along.

I'm a psychologist who primarily does therapy. I learned a good amount in school but I learned way more once my formal education was finished. I imagine this would apply for counselors, including those who do a lot of grief.

The last thing I'll add is that variety can be good for the soul but also to sustain yourself in the long run. Volunteering for 10 hrs/week is very different than working 40 hours/week, year in and year out. Variety can help protect against burnout and also allow us to pursue other interests, which can be very meaningful in other ways. Good luck!
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If you wanted/needed to expand your intended client base, you could consider grief re: other types of loss- e.g., ppl with TBI or other major life-altering injury or diagnosis in adulthood, and their caregivers/support people (usually family members). Personally I think I would want greater variety because that still feels pretty similar and @summerbabe has a good point about avoiding burnout. But wanted to raise that idea since it is an underrecognized need in my area from what I've seen.
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To follow up on AcronymAllergy, here's a document I wrote which outlines the major pathways available for a career in independent psychotherapy practice:

If I could add to the list that Crisis Counselors generally only need BS or equivalent experience. Also, Psych Techs vary a lot by state, and generally provide interventions or lead group / recreational therapies (which also may be a separate job offered by the hospital). It's more of in the state hospitals that they take more of a CNA role IME.

I imagine there are some states / specific jobs that would also allow highly trained bachelors to do grief counseling.