“A Division of the American Academy of Grief Counseling”
Webster’s Dictionary defines “thanatology” as the branch of science that studies death, especially its social and psychological aspects. The word was first used in 1842 and is from the greek expression “qa’ natos-logy. Related to health care, Webster’s defines the word as the study of the theory, philosophy and doctrine of death.
Today, the concept of Pastoral Thanatology focuses on care of the psychological, social and spiritual needs of the dying, as well as their families and loved ones. The American Academy of Grief Counseling places this specialty practice within the domain of “pastoral” care of the dying, with a strong emphasis on the spiritual aspects and needs of the dying. As such, qualifications for the program are restricted and defined below.
A Certified Pastoral Thanatologist is one who has attained high level training and has verified knowledge and skill sets to work specifically with the dying, related to spiritual, social, and human behavior aspects of end of life care. Certification attests to the completion of a continuing education program that provides such knowledge/skill sets.
Pastoral Thanatologists are each unique in their religious/spiritual beliefs and affiliations. All religions may well use the services of a pastoral thanatologist. Each person certified through our program retains the right to embrace and work with their own selected clients and religious affiliations. Our program does not discriminate as to one’s religious affiliation or spiritual beliefs.
Objectives of the Pastoral Thanatology Certification Program are:
- Provide high quality programs of Certification and Fellowship for professionals practicing the specialty of pastoral care/thanatology to the dying.
- Develop and support high standards of education and practice requirements for the attainment of Pastoral Thanatology 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 of the program.
- 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 recertification and re-fellowship of its credentialed members, attesting to ongoing education and skill attainment in the practice specialty of pastoral thanatology.
- 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 pastoral thanatology.
Pastoral Thanatology Certification
Certified Pastoral Thanatologist – requires attainment and/or verification of one of the following certification criteria:
- Completion of an official, established education program to prepare qualified individuals and professionals for the practice of Pastoral Thanatology. To view approved programs and courses, click here.
- Educational programs must have provided a minimum of 270 hours of education/study. Candidates for the Pastoral Thanatology 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 curriculums specifically based in grief counseling and bereavement theory/practice as well as in care of the dying, including a pastoral perspective, cultural issues, world religions and spiritual care of the dying. Candidates whose can demonstrate evidence of successful completion of such programs within a five (5) year period prior to the date of application for the Pastoral Thanatology Certification, are eligible to receive certification as a “Certified Pastoral Thanatologist.” Such programs may include university and college based courses, continuing education seminars, retreats, self-study and distance learning programs, etc. Candidates are welcome to submit an application and documentations of achieved education for review for consideration of certification status. A review may provide for acceptance or a written plan of additional requirements the candidate may need to achieve to be eligible for certification.
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.
Pastoral Thanatology Certification – Identification & Credentials
Those applicants who become certified by the AAGC- shall be deemed “certified” and may use the initials/credential PT-Csp, after their names: “Certified Specialist in Pastoral Thanatology”
Certification for this program is under the Division of the American Academy of Grief Counseling, as a sub-specialty of grief/bereavement counseling and education.
The Pastoral Thanatology 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. To access: click here.
All certifications shall be for a period of 4 years from the date that the initial certification by the AAGC is granted.
Qualifications to Enter the Pastoral Thanatology Certification Program
All candidates for Certification must have achieved one of the following prerequisites:
- A health care licensed professional.
- A college degree in the fields of health care, human services, psychology, or human behavior and has past experience working with the dying.
- A college a degree in theology and/or ministry from a legitimate school providing curriculum to meet defined objectives for conferral of a degree.
- A college level degree in a human behavior related field and has past experience working with the dying.
- Holds a legitimate current certification in pastoral care.
- Is a licensed minister or any legal clerical representative of a religion.
- Currently works in pastoral care under the direct supervision of a clergy, church or other type of organization or has a sponsorship by a licensed clergy/minister to study pastoral thanatology.
Candidates must have achieved one of the above prerequisites and must be able to show evidence of the educational requirements as provided above.
Note: candidates must provide official documentation of at least one of the established prerequisites at the time of application for Certification. Failure to provide such documentation and evidence of education requirements will result in rejection of the application.
Certified members may receive re-certification at the expiration of their four year term by:
- Obtaining 50 or more hours of continuing education within the four year period of certification. Click here to view the Criteria for Re-Certification.
- Have successfully advanced to Fellowship Status in the AAGC prior to the expiration of their current certification. Fellowship projects must have been in the specialty of pastoral thanatology practice. 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.
Those applicants who have successfully achieved certification, or re-certification 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 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, Certified Pastoral Thanatologists 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.
- The certification fee for Pastoral Thanatology is $200.00, plus shipping and handling, for the four year term of certification. All Certification packets, which include the official certificate, wallet ID card, and other related documents are shipped with tracking. Payment in full is due at the time of application. If an applicant does not meet certification criteria, the application fee is refunded. A completed application must be submitted with full payment to be considered for certification. The application form is available Here.
- Application for Recertification is $ 200.00, plus shipping and handling, for the next four-year period. This is a one-time payment and is required in full at the time of application for recertification. 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.
The American Academy of Grief Counseling offers a Fellowship program in Grief Counseling for its Certified Members. Access Information. Those certified in Pastoral Thanatology may also elect to achieve a Fellowship specifically in Pastoral Thanatology: Access Information
Click here for the online application.
- Click here to view education programs that are approved by the AAGC
- Click here to request more information.
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.
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. Our core Grief Counseling Courses are also co-sponsored by AMEDCO which is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), to provide continuing education for the healthcare team and thus has American Psychological Association (APA) approval for these courses.
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 recertifications 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.
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Professional_certification October 2018. Page 1.
- https://www.collegetransfer.net/AskCT/WhatisProfessionalCertification/ October 2018
- https://www.nurse.com/blog/2018/03/14/enjoy-the-perks-of-nurse-certification/ October 2018