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American Academy of Grief Counseling


“Dedicated to Continued Learning, Growth, and Achievement in Health Care Practice”

The American Academy of Grief Counseling offers comprehensive, quality, Certification and Fellowship programs for qualified professionals including, physicians, nurses, counselors, social workers, funeral directors, clergy and other professional providers practicing the specialty of Grief Counseling. The AAGC offers a two-tier program beginning with Certification of Grief Counselors with advancement to Fellowship status in the Academy.

 

The objectives of the AAGC are:

  • Provide high quality programs of Certification and Fellowship for professionals practicing grief/bereavement counseling.
  • Develop and support high standards of education and practice requirements for the attainment of certification, fellowship status, and re-certification.
  • Provide a mechanism for the ongoing involvement of a peer advisory board of qualified professionals to oversee program development and requirements for certification and fellowship in the AAGC.
  • Provide society with a mechanism to ascertain the appropriate education, skills, knowledge and experience required by professionals who offer such services.
  • Establish quality standards and requirements for the re-certification and re-fellowship of its credentialed members, attesting to ongoing education and skill attainment in the practice specialty of grief/bereavement counseling.
  • Provide a comprehensive program of approvals for continuing education, seminars, offerings, independent study, and other related educational activities, to ensure high quality standards are met and that such programs are of value to professionals practicing grief and bereavement counseling.

Certification

Certified Grief Counselor – requires attainment and/or verification of one of the following certification criteria:

  • Completion of an official, established education program to prepare health care professionals for the practice of Grief Counseling/ Bereavement Therapy. Educational programs must have provided a minimum of 100 hours of lecture/study and be offered by a college/university or a professional organization. Candidates for certification must present valid evidence of successful completion of such program. The AAGC review board will review and approve programs on an individual basis. Once a program is approved, it will be published as “approved” by the AAGC. Programs submitted for approval consideration must have their curriculum specifically based in grief counseling and bereavement therapy theory/practice. Curriculums must include content/theory on death, dying, grieving/bereavement, interventions, grief therapies, grief assessments, and child grief, at a minimum. To view approved programs and courses, click here. Candidates whose can demonstrate evidence of successful completion of such programs within a five (5) year period prior to the date of application for certification, and meet the prerequisites for certification (see below), are eligible to receive certification as a Grief Counselor.
  • Completion of the continuing education program in Grief Counseling offered by the American Academy of Grief Counseling. Candidates must meet one of the prerequisites provided below to enter this education program. Upon completion of the four core courses in Grief Counseling, the candidate may then apply for official Certification. This program of education consists of core continuing education courses designed to meet the specific education standards as developed by the American Academy of Grief Counseling. All courses are offered by distance education, and candidates have two full years to complete the complement of courses. For full program information: access here.

Prerequisites to enter the continuing education program for Certification eligibility are provided below. Candidates must meet a minimum of one prerequisite to be considered for entry into the program.

Prerequisite to enrolling in the continuing education program and qualifying for Certification are:

Registrants must meet at least one of the following:

  • A registered nurse currently licensed to practice nursing
  • A licensed social worker
  • A health care licensed professional
  • A professional counselor
  • A licensed psychologist
  • An ordained minister
  • A licensed funeral director
  • A pastoral counselor in active ministry
  • A graduate degree in educational counseling
  • A licensed physician
  • A college degree in human services, psychology, or human behavior
  • A school counselor
  • Other college degrees may be applicable if they are in a related area or if the candidate can verify significant job experiences working with grief/bereavement under the direct supervision of one who would qualify as a candidate above. Such cases are evaluated by the Academy on an individual basis.

If you would like to find out if you meet the qualifications for this certification program. Please submit an Inquiry Form at the following link: Access Here.

Once Certified, members must commit to adherence to the Code of Ethics for Certified Grief Counselors and adhere to their specific profession’s Standards of Practice.

grief counseling certification

The Certification Process

We have a dedicated page that provides a quick over-view of our certification process. It will provide you with good information about the process/phases of both the education courses and application for certification. Click here to access.

Grief Recovery Practitioner Program

Once Certified by the American Academy of Grief Counselors, certified members may enter the Advanced Certification Program and become certified as a “Grief Recovery Practitioner.” Candidates must be currently certified in grief counseling by the American Academy of Grief Counseling and hold a graduate level degree in order to qualify for entry into this program. For complete information please click here.

Child & Adolescent Grief Counseling Program

Once Certified by the American Academy of Grief Counselors, certified members may enter the specialty Certification Program in Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling. For complete information please click here.

Pet Loss Grief Recovery Specialist Certification Program

The American Academy of Grief Counseling also offer a full CE Education and Certification program in Pet Loss Grief Recovery. For complete information please click here.

Christian Grief Counseling Program

Once Certified by the American Academy of Grief Counselors, certified members may enter the specialty Certification Program in Christian Grief Counseling. For complete information please click here.

Certification – Identification & Credentials

Those applicants who become certified by the AAGC- shall be deemed “certified” and may use the initials/credential “GC-C“, after their names: “Certified Grief Counselor”

Timeline

All certifications shall be for a period of 4 years from the date that the initial certification by the AAGC is granted.

Re-Certification

Certified members may receive re-certification at the expiration of their four year term by one of the following means:

  • Obtaining 50 or more hours of continuing education within the four year period of certification. Click here for the Criteria for Re-Certification.
  • Have successfully advanced to Fellowship Status in the AAGC prior to the expiration of their current certification. Once a certified member achieves Fellowship in the AAGC, they are required only to reapply for Fellowship status, and continue to maintain their Certification along with their Fellowship.

Certificate

Those applicants who have successfully achieved certification, or re-certification by the AAGC will receive a large size official Certificate attesting to certification, as well as an official letter of notification. The certificate is suitable for framing and details the official professional certification title, initials that may be used, and time frames for certification. Those re-certifying receive a new, updated certificate.

Standards & Code of Ethics

The Code of Ethics for Certified Grief Counselors and Fellows of the American Academy of Grief Counseling may be viewed online by clicking here. The Code of Ethics is approved by the Governing Board and the Advisory Board of the American Academy of Grief Counseling.

Fee Schedule

  • The certification fee for Grief Counselors is $200.00 for the four year term of certification. Payment in full is due at the time of application. A completed application must be mailed in to the AAGC with full payment to be considered for certification. Application is available on this website.
  • Application for Re-certification is $200.00 for the next four year period. This is a one time payment and is required in full at the time of application for re-certification. A completed application must accompany the payment.
  • Major credit cards are accepted. Check and money orders are to be payable to: The American Institute of Healthcare Professionals.

Achieving Fellowship Status

The AAGC provides for a Fellowship status for Certified Grief Counselors. Fellowship is granted following the successful completion of all requirements as defined by the AAGC. Fellowship status is considered the highest form of professional recognition by a certification body, and attests to the Fellow’s ongoing commitment, knowledge attainment, skill, and practice experience in the field of professional Grief Counseling. Those who achieve Fellowship status are deemed a “Fellow in the American Academy of Grief Counseling “, and may use the initials, FAAGC. Fellows may also continue to use the initials GC-C as they maintain their initial certification along with their Fellowship.

Click here for Continuing Education Program for Fellowship

 

Fellowship Designation

Those certified applicants who successfully complete the Fellowship requirements shall be designated: “Fellow in the American Academy of Grief Counseling” and may use the initials “FAAGC“.

Click here to view education programs that are approved by the AAGC.
Click here to request more information.
Click here for the Grief Counseling Blog.
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Pastoral Thanatology Certification

The American Academy of Grief Counseling also offers a comprehensive program for “Pastoral Thanatology” Certification. Click here for complete information.

Online Application

Click here for the online application. Please print application and submit to:

What is Certification?

“A certification is a third-party attestation of an individual’s level of knowledge or proficiency in a certain industry or profession. They are granted by authorities in the field, such as professional societies and universities, or by private certificate-granting agencies. Most certifications are time-limited; some expire after a period of time (e.g., the lifetime of a product that required certification for use), while others can be renewed indefinitely as long as certain requirements are met. Renewal usually requires ongoing education to remain up-to-date on advancements in the field, evidenced by earning the specified number of continuing education credits (CECs), or continuing education units (CE’s), from approved professional development courses. “ 1

Certification is an official recognition from a “Professional Organization” that one has met all of the established standards as determined by that professional organization to be conferred the specific “certification” by that professional organization.  Certifications are most frequently established and conferred by “professional organizations.” Certification is thus a validation that a professional has thus achieved a high standard of knowledge, learning and skills in a specific specialty area of practice. It attests to an achievement in professional practice that is beyond that achieved for licensure. It is also specialty practice specific, rather than generic in nature.

Certification is distinctly different from ‘licensing.” Licensure is conferred /granted by the Government. In most all cases, licensure is the responsibility of the State Government. Every state has its own government agencies that oversee and confer licensure to professionals, i.e. the state boards of nursing.  Licensure is established by “laws” and then specific rules and regulations which conform to the tenets of the state’s laws. Licensure is granted and over-seen by state agencies. Certification, on the other hand, is NOT licensure and is not established by any “laws.”  Licensing agencies generally do not “oversee” professional certifications, unless their specific laws mandate a certain professional certification, in order to practice. An example of this would be: for a registered nurse to receive and be conferred a license as a “Nurse Practitioner” most states require that the RN also have Certification from the American Nurses Credentialing Center or the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.  So, in order to be licensed as a nurse practitioner, the nurse must hold certification from one of those two professional organizations. The State Board of Nursing does not oversee the certification, but rather requires it for nurse practitioner license.

Why Achieve a Certification?

“Professional certification shows consumers and potential employers that you are committed to your profession and are well-trained. It gives them confidence in your abilities and knowledge. Certification makes you more valuable to employers, so you can expect to earn more than someone without certification. Certification also offers advancement opportunities.” 2  Other compelling reasons to consider a specialty practice certification include: Acquire advanced knowledge and skills in a sub-specialty health care practice: 1) Achieve national recognition for attainment of knowledge and skills by meeting established standards of professional advanced practice, 2). Enhance and expand your health care practice, 3). Increase your marketability, 4). Be viewed as a credentialed expert in your practice specialty, and 5). Become part of a professional group and network of recognized and certified health care specialists.

Report findings published on Nurse.com revealed the following regarding Nurses that held certifications: 1). Certified nurses make more money, 2). Certified nurses have respect and recognition, 3). Certified nurses have validated competence in their specialty area, 4). Certified nurses are more marketable and hireable, 5). Certified nurses perceive they have more power in their organizations, 6). Certified nurses have more professional opportunities, 7). Certified nurses have standing among their professional peers, and 8). Certified nurses are more confident. 3

While these study finds were specific to the nursing profession, we believe such benefits are applicable to all health care professionals who hold practice specialty certifications, especially related to recognition, opportunities in employment and validated competency in their practices.

Ongoing Learning

A major hallmark of quality Certification programs is the mandate that Certified Members commit to continued learning in order to maintain their certifications. This is most generally achieved by requiring a recertification process in which certified member’s document continued learning in their practice specialty by way of continuing education. Certifying bodies will establish quality standards for the requirements for its certified members to achieve contact hours of continuing education credits in order to maintain their certification status by the organization or association. 1, 2

The American Institute of Health Care Professionals upholds this high quality standard for recertification of its members by an established program of recertification via mandatory continuing education as well as clinical practice hours over a four-year time frame.  Certified members may recertify their status upon meeting the standards established for recertification of their practice specialties.

References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Professional_certification October 2018. Page 1.
  2. https://www.collegetransfer.net/AskCT/WhatisProfessionalCertification/ October 2018
  3. https://www.nurse.com/blog/2018/03/14/enjoy-the-perks-of-nurse-certification/ October 2018