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GC 580 – Pet Loss and Human Emotion


This CE course is designed to assist anyone in the helping professions to understand what a pet owner may be experiencing when their companion animal dies. Assessing the role that pets play in the lives of clients is presented. An assessment of the role an animal plays in the life of the client and careful consideration of how that affects their daily functioning, self esteem, sense of well being and identity. Specifics about the procedure of euthanasia are given along with guidelines for assisting clients in working through all the issues that present before, during and after euthanasia is performed.

Case studies are reviewed regarding experiences of special types of pet loss such as accidents, a pet being stolen or being killed by someone, divorce situations and missing pets. Strategies for how helping professionals may best navigate potentially explosive situations and handle the complex emotions of pet owners due to these special circumstances of pet loss are studied. Guidelines for acquiring a new pet are detailed with a special eye to timing and each individual’s unique situation. Behavioral manifestations of grief and loss are studied as they related to issues of pet loss.
Course Code: GC 580. Contact hours of continuing education = 30.

This course is specifically designed for those who are studying to meet the education requirements for the Certification in Pet-Loss Grief Counseling.

Pre-requisites: to enroll in this course, you must have successfully completed the following courses offered by the American Academy of Grief Counseling: GC 400 and GC 410.

Instructor/Course Author: Jennifer Melvin, MSW, BSW, LCSW, CT

Link to resume

 TIME FRAME: You are allotted two years from the date of enrollment, to complete all of the required courses in the Pet-Loss Grief Counseling program. There are no set time-frames, other than the two year allotted time. If you do not complete the course within the two-year time-frame, you will be removed from the course and an “incomplete” will be recorded for you in our records. Also, if you would like to complete the course after this two-year expiration time, you would need to register and pay the course tuition fee again.

TEXTBOOKS: There is one required textbook for this course:

Pet Loss and Human Emotion, 2nd Edition: A Guide to Recovery. by: Cheri Barton Ross and Jane Baron Sorensen. Taylor & Francis; 2 edition (January 23, 2007). ISBN #s: ISBN-10: 0415955769 ISBN-13: 978-0415955768

Link to Purchase on click here

GRADING: You must achieve a passing score of at least 70% to complete this course and receive the 30 hours of awarded continuing education credit. There are no letter grades assigned. You will receive notice of your total % score. Those who score below the minimum of 70% will be contacted by the American Academy of Grief Counseling and options for completing additional course work to achieve a passing score, will be presented.


The American Institute of Health Care Professionals Inc: is an Approved Provider for Continuing Education by the South Carolina Professional Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists and Psycho-Educational Specialists licensing board, Provider # 4637. Access information

AIHCP is an approved provider of continuing education by the Florida Board of Nursing and the District of Columbia Board of Nursing. CE Provider # 50-11975.

The American Institute of Health Care Professionals (The Provider) is approved by the California Board of Registered Nurses, Provider number # CEP 15595 for 30 Contact Hours.

This course, which is approved by the Florida State Board Of Nursing (CE Provider # 50-11975) also has the following Board of Nursing Approvals, for 30 contact hours of CE

The American Institute of Health Care Professionals Inc: is a Rule Approved Provider of Continuing Education by the Arkansas Board of Nursing. CE Provider # 50-11975.
The American Institute of Health Care Professionals Inc: is a Rule Approved Provider of Continuing Education by the Georgia Board of Nursing. CE Provider # 50-11975.
The American Institute of Health Care Professionals Inc: is a Rule Approved Provider of Continuing Education by the South Carolina Board of Nursing. CE Provider # 50-11975.
The American Institute of Health Care Professionals Inc: is a Rule Approved Provider of Continuing Education by the West Virginia Board of Examiners for Professional Registered Nurses. CE Provider # 50-11975.
The American Institute of Health Care Professionals Inc: is a Rule Approved Provider of Continuing Education by the New Mexico Board of Nursing. CE Provider # 50-11975.

Course Refund & AIHCP Policies: access here


* Examination Access: there is link to take you right to the online examination program where you can print out your examination and work with it. All examinations are formatted as “open book” tests. When you are ready, you can access the exam program at anytime and click in your responses to the questions. Full information is provided in the online classrooms.

Student Resource Center: there is a link for access to a web page “Student Resource Center.” The Resource Center provides for easy access to all of our policies/procedures and additional information regarding applying for certification. We also have many links to many outside reference sites, such as online libraries that you may freely access.

* Online Evaluation: there is a link in the classroom where you may access the course evaluation. All students completing a course, must, without exception, complete the course evaluation.

* Faculty Access Information: you will have access to your instructor’s online resume/biography, as well as your instructor’s specific contact information.

* Additional Learning Materials: some faculty have prepared additional “readings” and /or brief lecture notes to enhance your experience. All of these are available in the online classrooms.



1). Understand the areas of concern encountered by those anticipating the loss of a pet.
2). Understand the issues faced by those who experienced the death of a beloved animal companion.
3). Identify ways to alleviate the stress and suffering associated with pet loss.
4). Discuss therapeutic benefits of companion animals.
5). Discuss the process of grieving, including the stages of grief.
6). Identify ways to support clients faced with the decision of euthanasia.
7). Discuss the wide variety and special types of pet loss.
8). Understand how cognitive age affects a child’s grieving process.
9). Provide options for meaningful ways to say goodbye to pets.
10). Identify types of therapies and therapeutic techniques to assist children through loss.
11.) Discuss the unique issues associated with pet loss and the elderly.
12.) Understand behavioral manifestations of grief and loss.
13.) Identify the guidelines in assessing a client for intent to self-harm.
14.) Identify factors which increase the probability of suicide.
15). Discuss ways to assist animal care professionals.
16). Understand how natural disaster or personal tragedy impacts the pet loss grieving process.
17). Identify therapeutic interventions for pet loss.
18). Discuss treatment modalities utilized to support those grieving the loss of a pet.
19). Identify available pet loss resources.
20). Understand how the relationship of pet parent and pet influences the grieving process.
21). Discuss the benefits of animal companionship for adults.
22). Discuss the benefits of children having pets.
23). List helpful statements caregivers can utilize to support children.
24). Define chosen hidden grief and unaware hidden grief.
25). Understand how guilt impacts the grieving process.


A brief abstract of content:

Human-companion animal bonds
History of companion animals
Stages of grief
Special types of pet loss
Children and pet loss
Pets as a family experience
Cognitive age and effects of loss
Common grief reactions at different ages
Hidden grief
Children and therapy
Pets and the elderly
Acquiring a new pet
Behavioral manifestations of grief and loss
Compounding loss
Animal care professionals
Natural disasters and pet loss
Personal tragedy and pet loss
Therapeutic interventions
Treatment modalities
Rituals and goodbyes
Pet loss resources
Animal collectors