How to Find a Qualified Grief Counselor
When a loved one dies, your period of grief and bereavement does not end with the funeral. In fact, for most people, this is when the hard work of moving forward through a life without your loved one begins.
Experts, friends, relatives, blogs, and even strangers on the street will probably tell you to get a grief counselor to help cope with your feelings of loss. Although this tends to be good advice, especially if you are struggling, finding a good therapist is not as easy as opening up the phone book and calling the first number you see. To find a qualified grief counselor, you should consider the following.
- Ask for Professional Referrals: When it comes to mental health support, it is a good idea to listen to professionals you know and trust. Every person is different (as is every grief counselor), so finding a good match requires that you find someone who shares your values, spiritual beliefs, and general outlook on life and death. For this reason, you may want to start by looking within your church or community for referrals. Religious leaders, your family doctor, and even your funeral director might be able to point you to qualified counselors specializing in your situation.
- Search Online: Turning to the internet to find medical professionals is very common in this day and age, especially if you are hoping to find someone whose fees will be covered by your insurance. It is perfectly fine to look online to start building a list of potential candidates…just make sure you research each person and consider all your options before deciding on one person.
- Check their Credentials: Anyone can say they are a grief counselor, but it takes years of education and medical training to become a doctor or certified professional. Look at each counselor’s credentials to determine who will be the best fit. (For example, a psychiatrist is a doctor who will often prescribe medication to help cope with mental issues. A psychologist is also a doctor, but tends to focus more on talk therapy. Social workers and masters-level clinicians tend to have lots of education but specialize in one area of support.)
- Set up an Initial Meet: Just because you see a counselor one time does not mean you have to stick with them. Set up an appointment or go through an initial consultation. Try them on for size. If anything about the situation does not feel right or “click,” then part ways and keep searching. It is worth it to find somebody who is a good fit and will help you every step of the way.
- Consider Group Therapy: One-on-one grief counseling can feel overwhelming if you are not accustomed to sitting and talking about your feelings at length. Group therapy can be a great in between step, especially if you are looking for a close circle of friends who understand what you are going through right now.
Another option to consider if you are not ready to jump into one-on-one grief counseling is to find an online support group. Many people connect across space and time via online forums, chat rooms, and Facebook groups that provide 24/7 support on the issues that are most pertinent to you and your grief.