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PT 470 – Bereavement Ministry & Support Groups


This continuing education course provides an overview of concepts, dynamics, and practical teaching related to engaging in bereavement ministry and construction and facilitation of grief support groups. Adult learners will be exposed to what it means to minister to mourners of various ages, both in and out of a support group context. Anecdotal accounts of mourners’ experiences will be presented, along with seasoned practitioners’ perspectives on providing caring and respectful bereavement ministry as well as effective grief support group programs. Progression in the course then focuses on better understanding how to minister to the bereaved from a faith as well as a practical perspective, how to walk with the bereaved on an individual basis, and assisting grief processing via group method.

This course provides a contemplative, functional, and practitioner-oriented presentation of issues regarding bereavement ministry and support group leadership. Upon successful completion of this course, students are awarded 40 contact hours of continuing education credits. Course Code: PT 470

This course is particularly designed for those who would like to apply for Certification as a Certified Pastoral Thanatologist with the American Academy of Grief Counseling.

Instructor/Course Author: Paul J. Moon, Ph.D., M.Ed., B.A., FAAGC, GC-C
Certified Grief Counselor/Fellow AAGC

Resume: access here

TIME FRAME: You are allotted two years from the date of enrollment, to complete all of the courses in the Pastoral Thanantology CE curriculum. 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 are two (2) required textbooks for this course:

Hoy, W. G. (2016). Bereavement groups and the role of social support: Integrating theory, research, and practice. NY: Routledge. ISBN-10: 1138916897 ISBN-13: 978-1138916890

Link to Purchase on click here

VanDuivendyk, T. P. (2006). The unwanted gift of grief: A ministry approach. Binghamton, NY: The Haworth Pastoral Press.

Link to Purchase on click here

GRADING: You must achieve a passing score of at least 70% to complete this course and receive the 40 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

The American Institute of Health Care Professionals (The Provider) is approved by the California Board of Registered Nurses, Provider number # CEP 15595 for 40 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 40 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.



Upon completion of this course, you will be able to:

  1. Discuss grief as “gift” and “journey”
  2. Understand individual variations in the grief journey
  3. Understand cultural/contextual issues impacting the grief journey
  4. Discuss the factor of faith in context of the grief journey
  5. Understand the role of life-cycle and developmental issues in grief
  6. Identify particular psycho-social-behavioral aspects of the grief journey
  7. Articulate motivational factors behind particular psycho-social-behavioral aspects of the grief journey
  8. Understand transitional dynamics between depression and healing in the grief journey
  9. Explore trans formative possibilities of the grief journey
  10. Define the role of “sojourner” as a pastoral caregiver
  11. Identify key tenets of becoming an effective sojourner
  12. Understand distinct elements of grief in the context of marriage
  13. Explore thoughts and suggestions from real-world grievers concerning grief journey dynamics


  1. Discuss the purpose of support groups
  2. Identify the benefits of support groups
  3. Discuss important logistics of starting a support group
  4. Understand key differences in support groups for adults versus teens/children
  5. Articulate necessary components of support groups
  6. Articulate the Compass Model of grief
  7. Discuss useful topics and questions to be exercised in support groups
  8. Identify factors that complicate grief for some support group members
  9. Understand dynamics of complicated grief in support group context
  10. Explore making appropriate referrals for support group members
  11. Identify common challenges experienced in support groups
  12. Discuss useful means of handling disruptive dynamics in support groups
  13. Understand the importance of facilitator’s self-care
  14. Identify aspects of facilitator’s self-care
  15. Construct practical documents for use in support group startup, maintenance, and closing




  1. Grief as a “gift” and transformative journey
  2. Contextual influences upon grievers
  3. Individual/personality differences of grievers
  4. Faith influences in the grief journey
  5. Life-cycle and developmental factors in grieving
  6. Common dynamics of the grief journey
  7. “Sojourner” role of the pastoral caregiver
  8. Distinct dynamics of grief in marital relations
  9. Practical and lived-out suggestions by grievers


  1. Rationale and value of support groups
  2. Therapeutic elements of support groups
  3. Logistics of establishing support groups
  4. Constructive parameters for support groups
  5. Session-to-session support group guidelines
  6. Distinguishing aspects of support groups for adults/teens/children
  7. Complicated grief dynamics in support groups
  8. Common challenges in support groups
  9. Practical examples of documents for support groups