Becoming certified in any professional field is an opportunity to build our competence
and confidence in the services we offer.
It is also an indication to the world—certainly t he client base we serve—that we have taken considerable time
and energy to develop mastery to help our clients with utmost professionalism, skill and care.
- Completion of the 10 required classes
(88.5 class hours)
- Completion of 5 elective classes
(16 class hours minimum—hours may be higher depending on elective class selection)
- Submission and successful completion of 15 Written Class Reviews
(one for each of the 10 required classes and 5 elective classes)
- Participation in 18 Private Coaching and Mentoring Sessions
(one for each of 15 classes, one for each of 2 case study groupings and one for recorded practice sessions)
- Submission of 8 Written Case Studies
- Submission of 4 Recorded Practice Sessions
How Long Does It Take To Complete the Program?
Because the program is self-paced, this will vary with each student. It is suggested that all requirements (classes, written class reviews, case studies, private coaching/mentoring sessions, recorded practice sessions) be completed over a two to four year period. Less than two years may not provide enough time for integration and application of learning, especially if a student comes to the program without any prior grief support or counseling education or experience. Enrolled students are required to complete a minimum of three classes per year to remain on active status in the program.
If you are enrolled in the certification program, a Written Class Review must be submitted for each of the 15 classes taken and completed. After completing a class, the student is required to request the Written Class Review, which consists of a set of essay questions (and for some classes also case studies) unique to that class. At least one of the questions will be relevant to any required books for a given class.
Responding to these questions in essay format allows class participants to demonstrate not only their intellectual comprehension of the class material but to also describe how they view and have integrated the material on a personal level and how they are using, or plan to use, the class concepts in their work with clients.
Written class reviews must be submitted no later than four months after live attendance or on demand purchase of a class. All information shared in Written Class Reviews is kept in strict confidence.
After a Written Class Review is completed and submitted, it should be emailed to us with a request to schedule the Coaching/Mentoring Session.
These are typically 90 minutes sessions (though some are two hours) held via telephone with the class instructor after submission of the Written Class Review.
For classes in which there is more than one instructor, students choose which instructor they wish to work with for the coaching/mentoring session.
The instructor will have read the Written Class Review before the session and will offer feedback including:
- Validation and discussion of specific areas of strength
- Suggestions and discussion of areas that may need further development. Clear, detailed suggestions for any changes, shifts or corrections that may be needed regarding the perception and/or application of the class material as presented in the Written Class Review will be provided.
The student is encouraged to discuss issues such as the following during the session:
- Your personal insights regarding your written review
- What seems most significant to you about your learning
- Any questions or further comments about your experience and content of the class
- Any issues for which you may want or need support
- Ways in which you anticipate how the class experience and content will be helpful for you in supporting clients
- Any cases or client experiences you may want to discuss
The fee for all Coaching/Mentoring Sessions is $150, except for the following, for which the fee is $200 for two hour sessions:
- Essential Counseling Skills class which is the longest and most in-depth class and Written Class Review for all of the classes. This class also includes a requirement to do two recorded practice sessions. These recordings are listened to by the instructor before the mentoring session, then discussed during the session. These coaching/mentoring sessions are typically two hours in length.
- Four required recorded practice sessions (these are in addition to and separate from the two required for the Essential Counseling Skills class).
These recordings are listened to by the instructor before the mentoring session, then discussed during the session. These coaching/mentoring sessions are typically two hours in length.
Coaching/mentoring sessions must be scheduled no later than four months after live attendance or on demand purchase of a class. All information shared in your written review and in the phone discussion is kept in strict confidence.
Overall, these sessions provide personal time with instructors to review issues specific to a given class, as well as general questions, concerns, cases, career/private practice issues, etc. which a student may want to discuss far beyond what is possible during class time.
Though the majority of the classes include brief case studies for review and discussion, and client case studies are often brought up by students informally during coaching and mentoring sessions, the required written case studies formalize the process of thorough case reviews.
Eight (8) case studies are required for certification, submitted in two separate sets of four each.
The process includes completing the case study forms, submitting the forms, and reviewing the case studies in a coaching and mentoring sessions.
1. Complete the Forms:
Case Study forms are provided upon request for participants enrolled in the certification program. Program participants are encouraged to take and keep confidential notes on any client contact/interaction that seems significant to them as it occurs, even if the case(s) is not presented toward certification for months or even a year or more later. Capturing in writing what seems meaningful to us during client contact is always best done as soon as possible after the contact, so that words, phrases and energetic nuances are not forgotten.
The case studies are about our interactions with clients, and how we have seen and felt our words, skills use and our energy effect clients. These are not case studies focusing on the client’s story or growth, though their story is certainly part of it. The focus is on the students’ own work and the extent to which they believe and/or have seen it helping or not helping a client.
2. Submit the Forms at Two Intervals:
The first set of four case studies may be submitted after completing 6 classes and their respective written class reviews and coaching and mentoring sessions. Three of these six classes must include the following core, required classes:
- Ethics and Essential Energetic Boundaries
- Legacies of Love, A Workshop of Gentle Healing for Those Who Have Lost Their Animal Loved One
- Grief Support Skills, How to Effectively Support Others Who Grieve the Loss of a Pet
The second set of four Case Studies may be submitted after completing 12 of the 15 classes (one of which must be the Essential Counseling Skills class), and no later than six months after completing all of the 15 classes required for certification.
All case study information submitted is kept in strict confidence.
Program participants request a Coaching/Mentoring session when their case studies are ready for review, in the timing sequences described above. The purpose is to discuss and review the cases, your personal experiences and insights regarding the cases, what seems most significant to you about your learning and any further questions, comments or discussion you may desire regarding any of the issues involved.
The instructor will have read the Case Studies before the session and will offer feedback including:
- Validation and discussion of specific areas of strength
- Suggestions and discussion of areas that may need further development. Clear, detailed suggestions to make the consultations reviewed more effective will be provided.
The fee for these sessions is $150 each.
All information shared in the written case studies and in the phone discussions is kept in strict confidence.
All case studies must be submitted no later than nine months after completing the 15 classes required for the program.
Counseling involves the use of specialized verbal skills. Though a great deal of learning and comprehension can be developed from reading, discussion, written case studies in class, and in mentoring sessions, our skills of counseling can only be tested and honed with live, verbal practice with another person.
The value of recording practice sessions is that you get to hear yourself facilitate a session— your tone, your healing presence, your use of empathy, and all the skills learned and reviewed in the classes. There is nothing that can duplicate the learning that comes from hearing yourself practice the skills. It is a very powerful learning experience.
In the classes, the handouts and case studies intentionally progress, leading up to live practicing—from passive recognition of effective and empathic responses in hypothetical situations to actually using effective, empathic responses in live, real situations.
In the Essential Counseling Skills class, two recorded practice sessions are required. For certification, four additional recorded sessions are required. These additional four sessions should not be done until after all required classes are completed (with the exception of Preventing and Healing Compassion Fatigue). Two of the sessions may be with program peers, but two must be done with real clients who give permission for a session to be recorded.
A detailed set of instructions is sent to students ready to to conduct and record their sessions. Two feedback forms are provided for feedback:
- Self Feedback Form for the Person in the Counselor Role
- Feedback Form for the Counselor from the Person in the Client Role
Listening to one’s recorded sessions, completing a self feedback form afterwards, and reading the feedback form from one’s partner can serve as a valuable source of learning and self-awareness.
Both sets of forms and recordings are reviewed in a Coaching/Mentoring phone session.
All recorded practice session materials must be submitted no later than nine months after completing the 15 classes required for the program.
Homework Involved in the Classes
Written exercises and extensive reading of handouts and books is required for most of the classes. For the required classes and most of the electives classes, students should expect to spend the same approximate amount of time reading and completing exercises as the number of hours in the live or on-demand class itself.
LIMITATIONS OF THIS CERTIFICATION PROGRAM
The certification program as a whole, and the classes taught in it which are described on this site, do not qualify or train students to conduct psychotherapy or long term counseling. Masters or doctoral level education, and often licensing, is required for that level of professional help. This certification program, however, does provide in-depth training and education in understanding and practicing client-centered, empathy-based counseling skills for use in the specialized context of providing short term grief counseling and support for those who are mourning the loss of beloved animals.