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PT 470


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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

Emails:esther@ugaalum.uga.edu ; perspicuityofx@yahoo.com

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

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

You are required to order your own copy of the textbooks. Please be sure to order your books as soon as possible so you can begin your course of study.

AIHCP Online Bookstore: AIHCP provides an online bookstore stocked with all of the required textbooks, and/or materials required for its CE courses. To purchase this book online, click the access store link, go to the table of categories, right upper hand corner, and click on "Pastoral Thanatology." Access AIHCP Store: 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.

BOARD APPROVALS: The American Institute of Health Care Professionals, Inc. is a licensed Continuing Education Provider in the State of California, Board of Registered Nursing, Provider # CEP 15595. Access information

Online Classroom Resouces and Tools

* Message Boards: each specialty program has an area to "post" on the message board. Students may post messages at anytime. Posting allows students to converse with those in the same specialty practice and to discuss issues/course content etc. Instructions for posting are provided in the online classrooms.

* Chat Rooms: each specialty has it's own unique "chat room." Inside of the classroom there is a schedule for "chat time" with students in your specific specialty practice. Participating in "chats" is voluntary. The chat sessions are used as means for students to come together and discuss course content or anything related to the courses and/or certification specialty.

* 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.


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

Bereavement Ministry:

  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

Bereavement (Grief) Support Group:

  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  



Bereavement Ministry:

  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

Bereavement (Grief) Support Groups:

  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