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The American Academy of Grief Counseling

"Dedicated to Continued Learning, Growth, and Achievement in Health Care Practice"

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The objectives of the AAGC are:

  • Provide high quality programs of Certification and Fellowship for professionals practicing grief/bereavement counseling.

  • Develop and support high standards of education and practice requirements for the attainment of certification, fellowship status, and recertification.

  • Provide a mechanism for the ongoing involvement of a peer advisory board of qualified professionals to oversee program development and requirements for certification and fellowship in the AAGC.

  • Provide society with a mechanism to ascertain the appropriate education, skills, knowledge and experience required by professionals who offer such services.

  • Establish quality standards and requirements for the recertification and re-fellowship of its credentialed members, attesting to ongoing education and skill attainment in the practice specialty of grief/bereavement counseling.

  • Provide a comprehensive program of approvals for continuing education, seminars, offerings, independent study, and other related educational activities, to ensure high quality standards are met and that such programs are of value to professionals practicing grief and bereavement counseling.


Certified Grief Counselor - requires attainment and/or verification of one of the following certification criteria:

  1. Completion of an official, established education program to prepare health care professionals for the practice of Grief Counseling/ Bereavement Therapy. Educational programs must have provided a minimum of 100 hours of lecture/study and be offered by a college/university or a professional organization. Candidates for certification must present valid evidence of successful completion of such program. The AAGC review board will review and approve programs on an individual basis. Once a program is approved, it will be published as "approved" by the AAGC. Programs submitted for approval consideration must have their curriculums specifically based in grief counseling and bereavement therapy theory/practice. Curriculums must include content/theory on death, dying, grieving/bereavement, interventions, grief therapies, grief assessments, and child grief, at a minimum. To view approved programs and courses, click here. Candidates whose can demonstrate evidence of successful completion of such programs within a five (5) year period prior to the date of application for certification, and meet the pre-requisites for certification (see below), are eligible to receive certification as a Grief Counselor.
  2. Completion of the continuing education program in Grief Counseling offered by the American Academy of Grief Counseling. Candidates must meet one of the pre-requisites provided below to enter this education program. Upon completion of the four core courses in Grief Counseling, the candidate may then apply for official Certification. This program of education consists of core continuing education courses designed to meet the specific education standards as developed by the American Academy of Grief Counseling. All courses are offered by distance education, and candidates have two full years to complete the complement of courses. For full program information: access here.

    Pre-requisites to enter the continuing education program for Certification eligibility are provided below. Candidates must meet a minimum of one pre-requisite to be considered for entry into the program.

    Pre-requisite to enrolling in the continuing education program and qualifying for Certification are:

    Registrants must meet at least one of the following; 1.) a registered nurse currently licensed to practice nursing, 2). a licensed social worker, 3). a health care licensed professional, 4). a professional counselor, 5). a licensed psychologist, 6). an ordained minister, 7). a licensed funeral director, 8). a pastoral counselor in active ministry, 9). a graduate degree in educational counseling, 10). a licensed physician, 11). a college degree in human services, psychology, or human behavior, 12). a school counselor 13). other college degrees may be applicable if they are in a related area or if the candidate can verify significant job experiences working with grief/bereavement under the direct supervision of one who would qualify as a candidate above. Such cases are evaluated by the Academy on an individual basis.

    Once Certified, members must commit to adherence to the Code of Ethics for Certified Grief Counselors and adhere to their specific profession's Standards of Practice.

    POLICIES OF THE AAGC INC: access here

    doctor and a nurse THE CERTIFICATION PROCESS: We have a dedicated page that provides a quick over-view of our certification process. It will provide you with good information about the process/phases of both the education courses and application for certification. To access: click here

      Grief Support practitioner Program

    Once Certified by the American Academy of Grief Counselors, certified members may enter the Advanced Certification Program and become certified as a "Grief Support Practitioner." Candidates must be currently certified in grief counseling by the American Academy of Grief Counseling and hold a graduate level degree in order to qualify for entry into this program. For full information: access here

          Child & Adolescent Grief Counseling Program

Once Certified by the American Academy of Grief Counselors, certified members may enter the specialty Certification Program in Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling. For full information: access here.

Pet Loss Grief Support Specialist Certification Program

The American Academy of Grief Counseling also offer a full CE Education and Certification program in Pet Loss Grief Support. For full information:
access here

christian Grief Counseling Program

Once Certified by the American Academy of Grief Counselors, certified members may enter the specialty Certification Program in Christian Grief Counseling. For full information: access here.

Certification - Identification & Credentials

Those applicants who become certified by the AAGC- shall be deemed "certified" and may use the initials/credential GC-C, after their names:

"Certified Grief Counselor"


All certifications shall be for a period of 4 years from the date that the initial certification by the AAGC is granted.


Certified members may receive recertification at the expiration of their four year term by one of the following means:

  • Obtaining 50 or more hours of continuing education within the four year period of certification . Click here: Criteria for Recertification
  • Have successfully advanced to Fellowship Status in the AAGC prior to the expiration of their current certification. Once a certified member achieves Fellowship in the AAGC, they are required only to reapply for Fellowship status, and continue to maintain their Certification along with their Fellowship.


Those applicants who have successfully achieved certification, or recertification by the AACM will receive a large size official Certificate attesting to certification, as well as an official letter of notification. The certificate is suitable for framing and details the official professional certification title, initials that may be used, and time frames for certification. Those recertifying receive a new, updated certificate.

Standards & Code of Ethics

The Code of Ethics for Certified Grief Counselors and Fellows of the American Academy of Grief Counseling may be viewed online by clicking here. The Code of Ethics is approved by the Governing Board and the Advisory Board of the American Academy of Grief Counseling.

Fee Schedule

  • The certification fee for Grief Counselors is $ 200.00 for the four year term of certification. Payment in full is due at the time of application. A completed application must be mailed in to the AAGC with full payment to be considered for certification. Application is available on this website.
  • Application for Recertification is $ 200.00 for the next four year period. This is a one time payment and is required in full at the time of application for recertification. A completed application must accompany the payment.
  • Major credit cards are accepted. Check and money orders are to be payable to : The American Institute of Healthcare Professionals.

Achieving Fellowship Status

The AAGC provides for a Fellowship status for Certified Grief Counselors. Fellowship is granted following the successful completion of all requirements as defined by the AAGC. Fellowship status is considered the highest form of professional recognition by a certification body, and attests to the Fellow’s ongoing commitment, knowledge attainment, skill, and practice experience in the field of professional Grief Counseling. Those who achieve Fellowship status are deemed a "Fellow in the American Academy of Grief Counseling ", and may use the initials, FAAGC. Fellows may also continue to use the initials GC-C as they maintain their initial certification along with their Fellowship.

Fellowship Information

Continuing Education Program for Fellowship

Child/Adolescent Grief Counselor Certification Program

Requirements for Advancement to Fellowship

  • Requires a minimum of three years in certification as a Certified Grief Counselor.
  • Applicants for Fellowship shall be required to successfully complete one of the following requirements:
  • Successful completion of the Continuing Education Program for Advancement to Fellowship as provided by the American Academy of Grief Counseling. Access program: click here. or,
  • Completion of a Project in Grief Counseling/Bereavement Therapy- this may include preparing actual cases for formal presentation in written format, according to project guidelines. Other types of projects may well be considered by the AAGC. Criteria for completion of the project will be available in the Fellowship Handbook as published by the AAGC in the year 2001.Those who elect the project option must submit a formal proposal and have the proposal approved by the AAGC.
  • Completion of a Thesis in Grief Counseling/Bereavement Therapy- submission of a formal paper (thesis) according to guidelines approved by the advisory board. Criteria for completion of the thesis will be available in the Fellowship Handbook as published by the AAGC in the year 2001. Those who elect the thesis option must submit a formal proposal and have the proposal approved by the AAGC. Applications are made at the time the candidate is ready to submit their thesis, or evidence of the required continuing education hours. Applications are available by request only to the administrative office of the Academy. Applications are only sent to those who are currently certified by the Academy.
  • Following submission and approval of the completed thesis, candidates are sent a written examination to complete, based on their thesis. Candidates have a time limit in which to complete the written examination and turn it in to the Academy.


Those applicants to Fellowship shall have three years from the date of application for Fellowship to submit their completed project, thesis, or evidence of continuing education hours. If the applicant does not produce such, they will be required to reapply for consideration of advancement to Fellow. Certified Grief Counselors must maintain their certification status with the AAGC while advancing to Fellowship status.

Fellowship Designation

Those certified applicants who successfully complete the Fellowship requirements shall be designated:

"Fellow in the American Academy of Grief Counselors"

And may use the initials : FAAGC

Timeline & Fee Schedules

Fellowship shall be for a 5 year period. Re-application is through evidence of continued education in Grief Counseling. Once a candidate for Fellowship is granted Fellow in the AAGC, they will pay a $ 250.00 fee for the 5 year Fellowship period. If the candidate has time left in certification (4 year period), then, the AAGC will prorate this toward their Fellowship fee.

For candidates submitting a project or thesis, there is a one-time fee required of $ 150.00 for peer reviews and processing. This payment is due at the time of submission of the project or thesis.

Reapplication Requirement

Reapplication for continued status as a Fellow requires 150 hours of continuing education over a 5 year period.

Review of Fellowships Projects - Thesis

The AAGC shall contract with two Certified Grief Counselors to review and grade all projects and papers and make recommendations for advancement to Fellow status. As such, applicants will pay a fee for application for project approval. Once the AAGC has granted a sufficient number of Fellowships, then the AAGC will contract with Grief Counselor Fellows to review and grade projects and thesis.


Click here to view education programs that are approved by the AAGC

Click here to request more information

Grief Counseling Blog

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Pastoral Thanatology Certification

The American Academy of Grief Counseling also offers a comprehensive program for "Pastoral Thanatology" Certification. Access information.

Online Application

Click here for the online application. Please print application and submit to:

The American Academy of Grief Counseling
2400 Niles-Cortland Rd. S.E. Suite # 4
Warren, Ohio 44484
Phone: 330-652-7776
Fax: 330-652-7575

Revised: December 2014