Bereavement counselors help individuals and families deal with the loss of a loved one. They support and counsel clients as they move through the stages of grief while seeking to prevent the sadness from evolving into depression or psychosis.
Though bereavement counselors are most known for providing therapy to people who have experienced the death of a family member, spouse, or friend, bereavement counselors also counsel individuals who have been through a divorce, death of a pet, break-up, miscarriage, or other loss.
Bereavement counselors use a variety of therapeutic techniques to help clients deal with the literal or figurative loss of a loved one. They may counsel individuals and/or families independently or run group therapy sessions for the bereaved. Bereavement counselors assist clients with:
Bereavement counselors often work with a team of other professionals-physicians, social workers, and psychiatrists. They may work in a variety of settings including: private practices, hospices, acute and long-term care facilities, funeral homes, and schools.
Those working in this field should be steady, strong, and comfortable discussing all aspects of emotionally charged topics like loss, mortality, and death.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the median annual salary for counselors in general to hover around $41,320. However, salaries vary by experience and education. According to The American Psychological Association (APA), in general, counselors possessing a doctorate degree made a median salary of $75,000 in 2007.
The U.S. Department of Labor expects job prospects for all types of counselors to grow faster than average over the next several years. The demand for bereavement counselors should follow that trend as the specialization increases in popularity among psychology students, and people become more aware that bereavement counseling is an option when faced with a loss