The Association for Death Education and Counseling has nearly 2,000 members. Grief therapists may provide grief therapy as an independent part of their larger counseling practice, or they may work as part of an organization. Many therapists in private practice offer grief therapy. Some therapists are part of a group practice of medical or psychological professionals who offer a variety of counseling and therapy services. Funeral homes, nursing homes, assisted care facilities, hospice organizations, and almost any facility or organization that deals with the sick and dying use grief therapists. Many have a therapist either on call or on staff. The government may also employ counselors and grief therapists in their health care facilities.
Some grief therapists work under contract with large corporations as part of employee assistance programs. Others may be called upon by airlines, schools, communities, or businesses at times of crisis or when violence has occurred. They may also work on a contract basis to make presentations or seminars to various groups or organizations.
Grief therapists also work at colleges or universities, conducting research or teaching classes that deal with death and grief.
Some colleges and universities offer job placement for people seeking careers in counseling. While in graduate school, therapy students often work as interns with hospitals and other health care facilities, hospices, or crisis care organizations, or with therapists in private practices. These relationships can often offer employment and networking possibilities after graduation.
Most grief therapists practice general counseling before specializing in grief therapy. Building a client base as a counselor can help provide the foundation for beginning a career in grief therapy. Personal contacts can also provide networking possibilities. Membership in a professional counseling association may offer sources for contacts and help you find job leads. Classified advertisements and trade magazines also list job openings.
Counselors specializing in grief therapy can advance to head their own counseling service or group practice, serving clients directly or contracting out services to hospitals, businesses, hospice organizations, and other facilities. Experienced grief therapists who specialize in education can become department heads of universities or colleges. Counselors with a business background and experience can advance to become executive directors of health care facilities and nursing homes, or head professional organizations that serve the counseling profession.
Tips for Entry
Read the Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences; Omega-Journal of Death and Dying; Death Studies; Mortality journal; and Illness, Crisis and Loss to learn more about the field.
Visit the following Web sites for job listings: http://www.agework.com/agework and https://www.healthecareers.com/amhca.
Join professional associations to access training and networking resources, industry publications, and employment opportunities.