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GC 540


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This course provides a way to better understand the intricate issues and dynamics of various trajectories people might face amid life-threatening illness. Selective theoretical foundations are presented, along with brief anecdotal accounts of individuals facing serious diagnosis. Moreover, a phasic model is proffered depicting the pathways of life-threatening illness. The framework presented in the text can be described as holistic and family-inclusive. Counseling suggestions are offered for practitioners’ consideration when working with gravely sick persons and their families/supportive others. As Doka himself remarks, the goal of the book is “to make the struggle with life-threatening illness a little more understandable and perhaps less lonely and frightening” (2009, p. 11).

Upon successful completion of this course, students are awarded 45 contact hours of continuing education credits by the American Academy of Grief Counseling. Course Code: GC 540

This course is particularly designed for those who are already or were recently certified by the American Academy of Grief Counseling, and are seeking continuing education to meet re-certification requirements for Pastoral Thanantology and/or 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


TIME FRAME: You are allotted two years from the date of enrollment, to complete this course. 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 is one required book for this course:

Doka, K. J. (2008). Counseling Individuals with Life-Threatening Illness. 1st edition. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company. ISBN-10: 0826115411

Link to Purchase on Amazon.com: 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

* 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.



Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course you will be able to:

  1. Identify pertinent and historical theoretical bases concerning dying and response to illness
  2. Discuss the array of ‘sensitivities’ (topical issues) a professional caregiver must be aware of when interfacing gravely sick persons and their families/supportive others
  3. Define the components of a skilled counselor
  4. Understand human responses to life-threatening illness  
  5. Understand specific dynamics of the illness experience
  6. Explore a phasic model of illness trajectories, including specific issues and dynamics provincial to each phase
  7. Identify related issues from the sick person’s perspective
  8. Identify related issues from the sick person’s family/supportive others’ perspective
  9. Understand issues of counseling families during a life-threatening illness



A brief abstract of content:

  1. Selective review of theoretical perspectives on dying processes and illness
  2. Specific topics of concern to the professional caregiver
  3. Skills of an effective counselor
  4. Description of responses to life-threatening illness
  5. Consideration of diverse factors in understanding the illness experience
  6. Prediagnostic phase and related issues and dynamics
  7. (Acute phase) Crisis of diagnosis and related issues and dynamics
  8. Chronic phase and related issues and dynamics
  9. Recovery phase and related issues and dynamics
  10. Terminal phase and related issues and dynamics
  11. Counsel families during a life-threatening illness of a loved one

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