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Grief Support Group Certified Specialist Course Program

Feeling pain and depression. Depressed young man is sitting at the chair while two other people are comforting his.The American Academy of Grief Counseling offers a full Continuing Education program of online grief support group courses for those seeking to receive an additional Certification in Grief Counseling, with a group setting focus. Upon completion of the four (4) courses detailed below, applicants are eligible to apply for and receive Certification as a Grief Support Group Certified Specialist, in the American Academy of Grief Counseling. Each course is provided for in a dedicated online classroom. The courses are designed as independent study/continuing education courses, with one-to-one faculty mentoring. There is open enrollment and students may register and begin the education program at anytime.


Certification Program

Those seeking Certification in Grief Support Group Certified Specialist must successfully complete the four (4) core courses as detailed below. To review information on the Certification program please view this page: click here

Course Fees: Below are listed the required courses for this curriculum. At the end of each course description you will find the course cost listed. All textbooks and learning materials are separate and not included in the course cost.  

The following Continuing Education Courses have provider approvals:

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. 

The American Institute of Health Care Professionals Inc. is a licensed Continuing Education Provider in the State of California, Board of Registered Nursing, Provider # CEP 15595.

The following CE Courses have provider approvals:   The American Institute of Health Care Professionals, Inc. is an Approved Provider of Continuing Education by the Florida State Board of Nursing  Provider # 50-11975.


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 Kentucky 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 New Mexico Board of Nursing. CE Provider # 50-11975.


GC 700 – Developing Grief Support Groups

This course is an advanced CE course that provides students with a comprehensive learning and training experience in the developing of grief support groups. The course is based on two texts which provides comprehensive materials that will guide students in the overall process and development of highly effective grief support groups. Students entering this course should already have a solid foundation of knowledge in grief and bereavement before beginning this study. The course covers everything from early development of a support group all the way through final evaluation of group effectiveness. Students will examine each key component of support group creation and process implementation. Early preparations are reviewed as well as selection criteria for group members. Types of support groups are examined. The role of the facilitator(s) is clearly defined and expanded upon. Of particular benefit, this course assists students in identifying effective ways to work with multiple issues and dynamics that may arise in the course of grief support group work. Various types of group structures and specific focused groups are examined. Dealing with controversial topics that may arise are also examined. Students will also explore the use of journaling and journaling exercises that may be used with grief support groups as well as incorporating memories of the deceased in their work with group participants. Students will also study a core structure and process of a week-by-week actual grief support group in order to better internalize and operationalize the overall development and functions of a grief support group. This course is specifically designed for those students in the Certification program in Grief Support Group Counseling, although others who are interested may also take the course. This is an advanced level course in Grief Counseling. There are two required textbooks. Students will also be provided with videos in the online classroom for viewing.

Course Code: GC 700. Contact hours of education = 40. Cost: $150.00. 


GC 710 – Techniques for Group Counseling

This CE course is an introductory exploration of the practice of group counseling and psychotherapy. The textbook presents detailed presentation of discussions on the dynamics of group work as well as an array of strategies and techniques for use in group process. Students will learn to identify what is going on in groups and what interventions would be most effective. This course provides a foundation for the study and the practice of clinical group work. Key areas of study include the core of the group process, leadership of the group, and future issues in group counseling. Students will examine preparation of groups, transitions, interventions and termination.  Other key areas of study include training, ethical issues and practices as well as co-therapies. Students will also examine how to work with difficult clients within a group setting. The text authors are seasoned therapists who have facilitated groups for numerous years, and so what they have to share in the book will be found as highly informative for counseling practitioners who desire to utilize group work in rendering professional interventions for group work.

Course Code: GC 710. Contact hours of education = 35. Cost: $150.00. 


GC 720 – Assisting Grief Support Groups

Bereavement Support Groups are an important function for many bereaved who lack family support and personal coping skills with loss.  Support Groups can supply the needed guidance and commonality with others to help an individual successfully proceed through the grieving process.  Equally important is the Bereavement Support Leader.  The Bereavement Support Leader must be well trained in grief theory but also have the compassion and emotional qualities to help others heal.  This can be a daunting task.  This course looks at helping Grief Counselors become better equipped with running a successful Grief Support Group.  The course will explore the qualities a leader must possess as well as how to begin a group, sustain it and successfully conclude it.  In addition, this course will share Alan Wolfelt’s 10 touchstones to grieving which serve as outlines and meeting themes for the progress of the Grief Support group.  This course is highly recommended for individuals who wish to lead support groups or leaders who already lead but feel they need additional information and insight to successfully manage a group.

Course Code: GC 720. Contact hours of education = 40. Cost: $150.00. 


GC 681 – Grief After Suicide

This course is based on a text that presents the research and study of suicide (suicidology) as well as clinical practice of providing therapy and counseling to suicide bereaved/survivors. Numerous chapters contain discussions by noted professionals in the industry pertaining to the impact of suicide loss upon individuals of varying ages and family systems, as well as practitioners. This course is designed for grief counselors as well as clergy and all mental health professionals. It is particularly useful for those working in grief support groups as there are often participants who are survivors of the death of loved ones by suicide and this can be a difficult issue to deal with at times. This course is particularly helpful to those working with the survivors of suicide in a group setting and also in one-to-one sessions. Interventions to provide bereavement care are examined. The research literature on the topic is well reviewed and pointed out for the students. Practical clinical guidance on issues related to grief and suicide are provided. The selected text provides an informed overview of the topic of suicide bereavement and the state of the field of study.

Course Code:  GC 681.  Contact hours of education =50. Course Cost: $ 200.00


Additional Information

  • This Certification Specialty is available ONLY to those who are currently Certified as a Grief Counselor in the American Academy of Grief Counseling or hold a certificate in Grief Counseling from another organization AND meet at least one of  our GC-C pre-requisites. For information on our Grief Counseling GC-C (Certified Grief Counselor) pre-requisites, you may contact us at:
  • All of the grief support group courses are continuing education courses and are provided in online classrooms via our website. Upon enrollment a unique identification and password is provided for classroom access. The online classrooms provide full syllabi and course information, including the course exams and evaluations. Students must a achieve a minimum score of 70% on the course examination to pass the continuing education courses.
  • Participants are given two (2) years from the date of enrollment into the first course, to complete the entire program of six (6) continuing education courses.
  • Upon completion of each course, you will be awarded the corresponding continuing education contact hours and receive the Continuing Education certificate verifying course completion and the award of education credits. Registration may be completed online, by accessing the links below.

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


Additional Links

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 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 hirable, 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.

The AIHCP CE Model for Certification

The Model for Certification at the American Institute of Health Care Professionals is one based on a core curriculum of focused Continuing Education (CE) Courses. We feel strongly that the conferral of a professional certification requires the attainment of current knowledge and skills in a specialty practice and those who achieve certification should all have the same educational achievements and knowledge/skill base. We insure this by modeling our Certification programs on student’s achievements in a strong curriculum of continuing education in order to achieve our professional Certifications.

Why is continuing education important as a foundation of our model? There are several reasons why continuing education is important for health care professionals. First, it helps them keep up with the latest advances in their field. Second, it helps them maintain their skills and knowledge. Third, it helps them stay current with changes in the healthcare industry. Fourth, it helps them meet their licensure requirements. Finally, it helps them improve their patient care skills. With the rapid pace of change in the medical world, it is essential for health care professionals to keep abreast of new developments in order to provide the best possible care for their patients.

Another reason that we proposed continuing education courses as the foundation of our Certification model is that the benefits of continuing education courses are numerous. For one, they can keep you abreast of the latest developments in your field, which can be beneficial both professionally and personally. Additionally, they can help you network with other professionals in your field, which can lead to new opportunities. Finally, continuing education courses can simply be enjoyable and enriching, providing student candidates with a chance to learn new things and explore different topics.

Our model consists of several types of continuing education courses. Many of our CE courses are self-directed and self-paced with faculty-mentoring as required by the student candidates. Students utilize text books for the course and very often supplemental learning materials such as course handouts, articles and videos. Other types of courses we have include online video on demand lectures courses that provide for printable copies of the slides used in the videos.

All of our CE courses have examinations that must be successfully completed in order for students to receive credit for the courses and also receive a CE Course Certificate. Most all of the examinations on taken right online with a computerized system and are objective-type questions such as multiple choice and true/false questions. Students take the examination online and once completed receive immediate feedback of their examination score and the questions they may have missed including what the correct responses are to missed questions. Students must complete a comprehensive online course evaluation in order to receive their CE Course Certificate. Students may communicate with their course instructors regarding any questions they have about the examination both pre and post-test taking.

All of our CE Courses are approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing. We are an accredited provider of continuing education for the California Board of Registered Nursing. For many of our CE Courses we also have Board of Nursing Approval by the Florida Board of Nursing and the DC Board of Nursing. As well we are a Rule Approved Provider for CE by the following Boards of Nursing: Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky and New Mexico. The AIHCP is also an Approved Provider for Continuing Education by the South Carolina Professional Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists and Psycho-Educational Specialists licensing board.

Upon successful completion of our CE Courses, our student candidates receive a full-sized Course CE Certificate with the full name of the course, date of completion, number of earned contact hours as well as all Board and Organizational approvals for the course. As our student candidates are generally health care professionals they have the added benefit of being able to use their earned CE Course contact hours for their State re-licensing CE requirements and many can use them for their CE requirements for recertification in other professionals organizations.

Our foundational model of CE for Certification is also based on the importance to stay current in the health care field as changes in technology and treatments occur rapidly. As a health care professional, you need to be able to provide the best possible care for your patients. Staying current also allows you to keep up with the latest guidelines and standards of care. Additionally, new research is constantly emerging that can impact patient care.

In conclusion, our foundational model of continuing education courses for certification for health care professionals is important in order to keep up with the latest advancements in health care. They also help to refresh and update the skills of those who have been working in the field for many years. All of our courses can be taken online and are self-paced for the student candidate’s easy of self-paced learning and many employers offer financial assistance to employees who enter our programs.


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