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Types Of Grief Training For Therapists

November 17, 2023


A sad looking woman lying on the bed while looking at her mobile phone

One of life’s most challenging emotional experiences, grief can manifest differently for each person. While there may be observable stages in the process of grieving, it is often not a straightforward and linear process. Professionals seeking to better understand grief and more effectively support clients through the grieving process may seek training and tools aimed specifically at addressing grief and bereavement. Additionally, trainings in prolonged grief disorder and mindfulness-based approaches are available, which can also be beneficial. 

Grief Training Courses And Certifications

There are different types of grief training for therapists, offering a range of approaches, focuses, and settings. Training options include private on-site training, webinars, digital and in-person seminars, online courses, or a combination of training options. There are many institutions that provide training options, and we’ll explore some of these options below. 

American Academy Of Grief Counseling 

The American Academy of Grief Counseling (AAGC) offers grief counseling certification and fellowship programs aimed at counselors, physicians, nurses, social workers, funeral directors, and other professionals working with people experiencing grief. It details the prerequisites for enrolling in the continuing education program and qualifying for the Grief Counseling Certification on its website. 

The AAGC offers four online continuing education courses in grief counseling. The four courses are listed as: 

  • Death, Dying & Mourning. This course is aimed at providing “a very comprehensive overview of studies, research, and dynamics related to death and dying.”
  • Grief Counseling for the Helping Professions. Following the first course, students learn about additional theories and model processes of grieving, with an emphasis on scientific inquiry. 
  • Grief Therapy. Students learn about attachment theory, the process of mourning, and the study of contemporary grief therapy employed in counseling. 
  • Working with Grieving Children. Students learn about best practices working with children and adolescents experiencing a loss as well as therapeutic intervention models. 


PESI offers a variety of courses and seminars, including a grief course titled “Grief Treatment Certification Training: Evidence-Based Approaches to Care Across the Lifespan” to give individuals the education they need to become a Certified Grief Informed Professional (CGP). It emphasizes moving beyond the five stages of grief to include other approaches to grief work. 

The certification process involves watching the online course, completing the CE tests, and submitting the certification questionnaire. In addition to the course, PESI’s website includes a catalog of many training options, including webinars, seminars, and virtual events, along with other offerings on specific, grief-related themes. 

Two men with their heads in their hands appearing distressed while sitting on a sofa

Association For Death Education And Counseling

The Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC), an international organization focused on grief counseling and research on thanatology (the scientific study of death) lists many offerings supported by ADEC. It includes specialty workshops on issues pertaining to grief and bereavement; online webinars on topics such as trauma-informed hospice care; and an integrative thanatology certificate training through the One Spirit Learning Alliance. 

Organizations listed by ADEC to provide grief training include the Hospice Foundation of America, TAPS Institute for Hope and Healing, and Authentic Presence, Contemplative End-of-Life Care Training. These organizations offer a range of courses and training options. 

For instance, if you’re interested in incorporating mindfulness into your practice of caring for dying patients and their families, you may check out the 

Authentic Presence, Contemplative End-of-Life Care Training, which offers a course titled, “Mindfulness and Awareness in End-of-Life Care” as part of its Certificate in Contemplative End-of-Life Care Program. 

In addition, the Hospice Foundation of America offers a range of continuing education programs on a variety of topics, including Autism and Grief, Trauma-Informed Hospice Care, and Understanding Ambiguous Loss. 

Mindfulness‐Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) Training 

Mindfulness‐based cognitive therapy (MBCT) has been found to be effective in supporting emotional regulation among grieving patients, with a recent research study suggesting that MBCT could “enhance spontaneous emotion regulation among the bereaved individuals through the internetwork reorganizations in the resting state.” For professionals interested in learning more about this approach, there are a variety of training options available to consider. 

Some training programs for MBCT include the University of California-San Diego in California, US; the Centre for Mindfulness Studies in Toronto, Canada; and the Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice of Bangor University in the United Kingdom. 

MBCT training is also available through online courses, such as the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy Teacher Training Intensive through Harvard Medical School Continuing Education. The course is part of the MBCT Teacher Training Pathway, but notes that it is “equally applicable to therapists interested in incorporating elements of mindfulness practice into their clinical work.”

A sad mom and daughter comforting each other while seated on a couch

Training For Prolonged Grief Disorder 

Some people may experience grief so intensely that it causes a significant impairment in their life. As detailed by the American Psychiatric Association, prolonged grief disorder is characterized by “intense longing for the person who has died or preoccupation with thoughts of that person.” For a diagnosis of this condition in adults, the loss had to occur at least one year ago; and in children and adolescents, at least six months ago. 

Symptoms of prolonged grief disorder include disbelief about the death, intense emotional pain, feelings of identity disruption, avoidance of reminders of the loss, feelings of emotional numbness, intense loneliness, feelings of meaninglessness, and difficulty engaging in daily life.

Therapists wishing to work with individuals experiencing prolonged grief disorder may look for specialized training, such as workshops, webinars, and online courses offered by the Center for Prolonged Grief at Columbia University.

Therapy For You

Extensive work helping others cope with life challenges can take its toll emotionally. If you find yourself grappling with your own challenges, it may be helpful to consider speaking to a therapist—whether in-person, online, or by phone. A platform like BetterHelp can match you with a licensed therapist who aligns with your needs and interests. 

Online therapy can provide ease of access and has also been shown to be effective for a range of concerns. One study compared the effectiveness of in-person versus virtual delivery of mindfulness-based skills in healthcare curriculums, introduced to improve resilience and increase an overall sense of well-being. This two-year study concluded that virtual delivery was effective in decreasing perceived stress


Therapists seeking to work with clients experiencing a profound sense of loss may find it beneficial to learn more about working with grieving clients. There are many types of grief training available to therapists—from certification training to workshops and seminars. By participating in training to grasp the grief process more fully, therapists may be better prepared to meet the challenge of helping clients through their process.