When coping with the loss of a loved one, some grievers may want to seek professional guidance. It provides a safe place to talk about the deceased and emotions that you’re feeling. Together you can find hope again and determine healthy ways to grieve.
However, a person may get stuck when determining how to find a qualified grief counselor. There are many resources available that can help you find the right grief specialist for you. Let’s discuss them below.
Psychiatrist vs. Psychologist
First off, let’s make sure we understand the difference between these two specialists. Although they work together, they have different roles in helping someone cope. Psychiatrists specialize in medications to help their patients, while psychologists specialize in psychotherapy to help their patients both emotionally and mentally. Before seeking the guidance of one of these professionals, you may want to talk to your doctor.
For more information about the difference between the two and their specific roles, check out this Psychology Today article.
Where to Find a Grief Counselor
Like we mentioned above, your doctor is a great resource to help you find a grief specialist. They can help you determine your needs from a grief counselor and give you some suggestions. You also can reach out to your insurance company to see what grief specialists are covered by your insurance.
Also, don’t hesitate to ask your trusted family and friends for recommendations. Or if your loved one passed away at a hospital or hospice center, you also can reach out to these places for recommendations. Another option is a religious leader who has training in helping people cope with grief. You can reach out to religious leaders at your local places of worship to see if this is an option.
There also are several online resources that make it easy to locate grief specialists near you, such as:
Psychology Today has a Find a Grief Therapist search feature. You can search by your city, zip code, or a specific name. Then, the search results bring up grief therapists near you that match your search criteria. The detailed descriptions provide their name, photograph, education, experience, areas of expertise, and contact information.
Angie’s List also provides information about grief specialists in your area. You can create an account for free to view the search results and information about the grief specialists as well as ratings and reviews from other users.
Good Therapy has a search tool to find a therapist near you. You can search for local therapists with your zip code or city and click Advanced Search to select grief as their specialty. The search results include background information about the grief therapists; such as their name, education, specialties, and contact information.
Qualities to Look for in a Grief Counselor
There are many qualities that make a great grief counselor, such as:
- Professional, yet sympathetic
- Excellent verbal and non-verbal communication skills
- Trustworthy and friendly
- Feeling you can open up to them and not be judged
- Their therapy methods fit your needs
- Flexible with your schedule and any other needs
- Inspires you and gives you hope
- Confidence in what they do
Of course, some of these qualities you won’t know until you’ve met with them. But you can check online reviews to get a general idea before setting up an appointment with someone. If it doesn’t seem to be a good fit after a few sessions, you can reach out to another professional who may be better suited to your needs.
Things to Ask Yourself Beforehand
Before reaching out a possible grief counselor, you should determine a few things you want beforehand, such as if you’re looking for short-term or long-term counseling. You may want someone to help you in the first few months after the death, or you may want to see someone for longer. You may not know this right away, and that’s okay. You can start seeing someone and, as you go, determine the right amount of sessions for you.
You also should determine if you have any other preferences, such as if you prefer to talk to a male or female therapist or someone who falls into a certain age range. Choose whomever you feel comfortable with. Each therapist has their own personality and therapy styles that may or may not be right for you. But once you find one that fits your preferences, you can work together on your grief journey.
If you’re more comfortable in a group, you could see about attending group therapy with another loved one who is coping with the loss. However, it also may be a good idea to do some individual sessions as well so your therapist can better determine your specific grieving needs.
Reach out to Funeral Directors
Don’t hesitate to reach out to your local funeral home for help. Funeral directors can offer educational resources, suggest local therapists, or they may be trained themselves to help you cope with your grief. They also can suggest local grief support groups and grief events and classes that they offer to the community, such as seminars, webinars, or other events.
What are your recommendations for finding a grief counselor? Share your tips in the comments!