- Length: 8 sessions, 22 hours total (plus class exercises, reading, case studies and practice sessions)
- Class Format: On-demand teleclass to take anytime, at your convenience. You will receive links to 22 hours of MP3 recordings (from a live class which includes the questions, comments and interactions of the participants with the instructor) and PDF’s containing 261 pages of detailed handouts.
- Tuition: $549
- Instructor: Teresa Wagner, MS, Program Founder and Ruah Bull, Ph.D.
- Who Should Attend: Anyone who wants to learn, refresh, build upon or master counseling skills to effectively and empathically support their clients. Particularly helpful for veterinary professionals, animal communicators and other animal care professionals who want to support others through pet loss. (For certification students who have already taken many of the classes in the program, parts of the content of this class will serve as an important reinforcement of key concepts and skills, along with a great deal of new information and a much deeper plunge into what effective and ethical counseling requires.)
- Register: Click here to purchase (This link will automatically redirect you to the Animals in our Hearts web site for purchase.)
- Testimonials: Click here
For students enrolled in the certification program:
- This is a required class
- Prerequisite: Completion of the first three CORE classes: Grief Support Skills, Ethics and Boundaries, Legacies of Love , and completion of the Understanding Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress and The Role of Spirituality in the Helping Relationship classes. Individuals not enrolled in the certification program are welcome to take this class at any time (no prerequisites).
- Required Reading:
• The Helper’s Journey, Working with People Facing Grief, Loss and Life Threatening Illness, Dale G. Larson, Ph.D.
• The Heart of Being Helpful: Empathy and the Creation of a Healing Presence, Peter R. Breggin, MD
• Counseling Skills for Companioning the Mourner, The Fundamentals of Effective Grief Counseling, Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D., C.T.
- Fee for Coaching & Mentoring session held after submission of Written Class Review: $250 (fee not applicable for students who have pre-paid the entire certification program fee which includes these sessions)
Content and Purpose
In this in-depth, comprehensive counseling skills for pet loss class, participants have an opportunity to:
- Learn and practice (with peer and instructor feedback) the key elements of client-centered, empathy-based counseling
- Deepen and expand their ability to effectively help clients, regardless of their specialty and the context of their work as a helper/healer
- Feel more confident that they are saying the right thing, at the right time, in the right way to effectively help distressed clients
- Become acutely aware of words and phrases that facilitate healing and those which may actually harm clients emotionally
- Increase their effectiveness and comfort zone when dealing with difficult and challenging clients
- Feel more confident and competent in helping clients who are expressing intense emotions such as overwhelming grief, guilt, anger, hate, bitterness, anguish, despair or issues surrounding forgiveness
I’ve always known in my heart that the necessary roots of all healing are compassion and love. I also know that for us as helping practitioners to merely feel compassion and love is not enough. Communicating these qualities to our clients effectively is not automatic, however deeply we may feel them in our hearts. If our goal is to facilitate healing for others, we need to use specific skills and ethics with conscious intention.
The workshop is about the conscious overlay of basic yet powerful and essential counseling skills into our work in pet loss grief support and any helping role. When strategically applied, these skills allow us to bring the best of what our souls have to offer to serve others.
Next to love, empathy is the most powerful force available to any helper to facilitate emotional healing. Receiving the energy of empathy from a skilled helper allows the person or animal who is in emotional pain, struggle or trauma to feel acknowledged, understood and empowered for greater openness to healing. Offered without skillfully expressed empathy, the best expertise and healing techniques in the world can be perceived as cold, ego-based, uncaring, prematurely offered, irrelevant or even useless. This workshop provides an opportunity to learn very specific empathic skills to bring the power of our love, compassion and expertise alive to effectively serve the clients we care about so much.
The client-centered, empathy-based approach helps us effectively communicate the deep compassion and love we as healers so very much want to convey to our clients, and want them to feel for themselves. And, when we have specific healing modalities to share, doing so in a client-centered, empathy-based manner opens the client to receiving and using what we offer far more effectively than when we simply assume we know what they need and impose our tools.
NOTE: This class is about learning concepts and practicing specific skills from the field of counseling psychology which research has shown to have an extremely positive impact on the growth and empowerment of clients. However, the class, and the certification program as a whole, does not train students to conduct psychotherapy or long term counseling. Masters or doctoral level education, and often licensing, is required for that. The class provides training and education in understanding client-centered counseling theory, skills and practice for use in short term counseling in the context of pet loss grief support, animal communication, any of the healing arts or for use in daily life. See Code of Ethics and Underlying Philosophy of the program and our Welcome and Overview of Professional Training for Pet Loss Grief Counselors for more detail.
Session 1: Counseling Skills for Pet Loss: Fundamentals of the Client-Centered, Empathy-Based Approach
- What does an effective helping relationship mean to you? Experiences and images
- Defining healing presence
- Historical view of the counseling and therapy field
- Research: Core facilatative characteristics of helpers
- The skills and qualities of an effective helper
- Potential pitfalls & contributions of bringing other expertise to the counseling role
- The client-centered, empathy-based approach: What is it? Its impact on clients & motivation of helpers? How is it different from direct advice, formulaic and technique-based approaches
- The Helping Practitioner’s Pyramid and why it’s important
Session 2: Examining the Intersection of the Values, History and Experiences of the Helper and the Client and Why It Is So Important
- My 10 most deeply held values about animals
- Our values belong to us and are precious—but they do not belong in the counseling session
- What does in-depth self-assessment have to do with being an effective helper?
- We cannot hear the pain of another until we hear out own
- Guidelines for dealing with the emotions that come up during in-depth self-awareness and self-assessment exercises
- Significant life events, issues and relationships that have shaped my life and beliefs
- Counseling skills for pet loss case study: Self-absorbed, grieving client who may trigger you
Session 3: The Impact of Self-Disclosure and Personality Type on the Helping Relationship
- What is self-disclosure in the helping relationship?
- Why self-disclose in the helping relationship?
- How and when to self-disclose
- Case studies: What would you do in my shoes? Is this therapist “no nets” blind?
- Self-awareness precedes effective self-disclosure
- Personality Type: Differing personalities can create filtering, prejudice and misunderstandings in relationships
- The value of understanding and using personality type information as a helper
- The Myers Briggs four preference scales and what they measure
- Self-assessment: What’s my type and temperament?
- Does my type from the test have face validity?
- The Myers Briggs temperaments
- Factors that influence Myers Briggs type
- Practical use of the model for helpers
Sessions 4 & 5: Words that Heal: Theory, Skills and Practice of Communicating Empathy
- The golden rules of empathy
- The Helping Professional’s Pyramid and the role of empathy in it
- What empathy is in a nutshell
- What empathy is not
- Three levels of empathy: intellectual, emotional and soul
- Empathic Inquiry: The art and skill of targeted, gentle questions—theory, cases, practice, discussions
- Empathic Response: Purpose, process and principles of use—theory, cases, practice, discussions
- Advanced Empathy: The art and skill of inviting the client to go deeper—theory, cases, practice, discussion
- The Grace of Soul Empathy—with both self and other
- A therapeutic conversation with yourself, using empathy for yourself
- The importance of attending to context in counseling
- Structuring a client-centered consultation
- Four stages in mastering a skill
- Counseling skills for pet loss case studies
- RECORDED PRACTICE SESSIONS with peers are completed between sessions five and seven
Session 6: Guest Speaker Dr. Ruah Bull
- The Winding Way—Journey of a Healer
- Dealing with difficult clients: concepts, cases and live role plays
Sessions 7 & 8: Helping Clients with Overwhelming Feelings
- Review of practice sessions
- Introduction to helping clients with overwhelming feelings—how it can be different from helping clients with less intense feelings.
- Understanding the energies of intense, overwhelming feelings
- Offering acceptance, empathy and facilitation of expression and release
- Understanding Guilt and the counselor’s role in helping clients heal it
- Understanding Anger, Hate and Bitterness and the counselor’s role in helping clients heal it
- Understanding Forgiveness and the counselor’s role in helping clients find peace versus pressuring them to forgive
- Understanding Anguish and Despair and the counselor’s role in helping clients with it
- Pet loss grief counseling: Live role plays and case studies
- Using right brain tools to help clients gain clarity, increase empathy and compassion for oneself and move toward healing: expressive art therapy; writing and journaling; guided meditation
- When, how and why to refer to therapists and other practitioners— when help is needed beyond the counseling skills for pet loss that we offer
- Integration of workshop concepts into your own practice
Gave me as much or more, than any master’s level class in the field of counseling psychology
The Essential Counseling Skills class was extremely valuable to me… . It was a rare opportunity to ‘meet’ over the phone, and share learning and ideas with many very special ‘animal’ people. Teresa’s wonderful spirit, rich tapestry of knowledge and ability to teach, made this class an experience I will not only treasure, but will be able to put to use immediately. The extensive volume of enlightening materials, plus the class hours on a weekly basis, and the practice sessions, gave me as much or more, than any master’s level class in the field of counseling psychology.
~ Emily F, Illinois
My confidence is ten-fold what it was before the class
It was extremely valuable to see concepts in action—to see how these things work in the real world with the exercises, case studies and in-class role plays. Really cemented the understanding of empathic response, empathic inquiry and advanced empathy. I think my skill was there, but my confidence in ten-fold what it was before the class. And I gained a world of knowledge about guilt, anger, and forgiveness. The amount of time, energy and intention that Teresa puts into the handouts is so evident. They are invaluable. And the resources are incredible. I can’t emphasize enough how valuable these have been for me. Teresa is just an amazing woman who has put her heart and soul into this work.
~ Deb C, Oregon
The most significant learning for me was the practice of empathic inquiry and response
Through those practices, and the reminders to be energetically sound, were huge.
~ Holli S, Leesburg, Virginia
The resources lists were invaluable. The practice session were perhaps the most valuable.
Teresa, Just looking at your notes [class handouts] alone – not even considering your other work – makes it clear you are a born teacher. I’ve taught classes such as this one (only in science), and I KNOW how much research, thought, preparation you put into everything you do. Your knowledge of every aspect of the pet loss field is amazing – just looking at the range of information you’ve amassed, not to mention the number of resources you’ve examined for our use. The resources lists were invaluable. The practice session were perhaps the most valuable.
My normally scientifically based thought processes are expanding into new ways of thinking. Although I’ve always considered myself a spiritual person (not religious), my spiritual self is growing and my heart is opening up to new ideas.
I’ve taken a lot of classes in my life, and I’ve had maybe one teacher who loved teaching as much as you do. When I first spoke with you, I immediately knew yours was the course I wanted. I had researched this field fairly thoroughly and taken classes from other organizations. Honestly, I learned nothing from them. Many assign a reading, send you the exam at the same time, and if you pass (it would be almost impossible to fail), you receive a nice looking diploma. I guess these look good hanging on the wall, but I know they mean nothing. When I receive a certification from you, I’ll KNOW it represents true learning. Your patience with students is unique. Probably others have said this to you, but your voice, with its gentleness and soothing quality is like a harp to my ears. I don’t know if you were lucky enough to be borne with such a voice or if you had to work on it; either way, it goes a long way in making your students feel at ease and safe.
~ Lynne L, Gautier, Mississippi
Taught me to be a better counselor and brought me to a much greater understanding of myself
I had the Client Centered Therapy Model taught to me many years ago when I took my master’s in psychology, and I remember at the time, it being somewhat hard to grasp or understand because of the way it was being presented to me. However, in Teresa’s class, I was so surprised how this model of therapy came to life for me! In taking this class, I began to understand the wonderful spirituality of this model, which is based on the trust that the person’s own inner wisdom will show us the path. And then I had opportunities to see that in action and it really was a powerful experience ! I do also believe that in Pet Loss Grief Counseling, for example, this can be a really valuable skill, to help the client in a gentle, non-invasive, respectful way, to tap into their own inner wisdom and come up with useful insight and ultimately resolution.
Teresa’s handouts were very extensive and, equally important, were her pages of ‘bullet points,’ where she was able to distill down, many of the skills involved in this modality. She would dive in deep into the material, bring it to life, then give us summaries on each of the elements, as a practice guide. And of course, the wonderful practice sessions, where I met over the phone with one of the students, role-playing both client and counselor, were really an intense learning experience. The practice sessions really pulled everything together, showed how it would be both as client and counselor.
Also very significant for me was when she did a special guided meditation in our last class, to help us to be able to spiritually process and let go of the troubling images and experiences we might have, in the field of animal advocacy. I had requested this due to some troubling memories I had had which haunted me for years and thru her meditation, I was able to get some healing and closure on this….and some really surprising elements came up for me during this time.
All of Teresa’s classes are unlike any other I have taken, and I have taken a lot of classes in my life. Each of these classes could, to me, be a textbook unto itself.Her unique and brilliant teach ability is an experience like no other, for me. She has the talent of not only teaching thoughts and ideas but also of reaching the hearts of both people and animals….
Teresa’s wonderful spirit, heart, personality, her healing presence and non-judgemental wisdom and kindness, drew me to take these classes. And her love of teaching and profound intellect, everything she shares with the class, is so invaluable to me. Many years ago, her beautiful soft pink and blue website ( animalsinourhearts.com ), the soulful music and the information on the site, coupled with her great love of animals, really drew me in. That website was a regular stop of mine. It is a tiny slice of heaven where no one was mean or cruel, and you felt instantly ‘home,’ in the company of a person who treasured animals as much as I did, not an easy feat in this day and age. Fast forward to today, I never realized back then that I would start taking her classes, but I am so glad I did ! And look forward to taking more of them.
I thoroughly enjoyed Ruah Bull and her discussion of The Red Thread which runs through all of our lives. That was so simple and yet so very true and meant a lot to me. I also liked her discussion of Native American Shamanism, dealing with difficult clients and her candor in sharing her own belief system, describing her journey thru her fascinating spiritual path. I also liked her website and will be back to visit it, again. She also shared very good information on spiritual grounding and how to practice protection prior to client sessions. Most of all, I loved her spirit and her voice and its not surprising that she and Teresa are good friends. I feel that they are highly evolved, nonjudgmental, very kind souls, with a lot in common, who really walk-the-walk and have been through a lot of self exploration to get to this point, where they can teach others.
I am already using all the counseling skills, broad strokes and subtle nuances, that I learned in the class. Spending time with Teresa and her wonderful students, as well as the whole course, taught me to be a better counselor and brought me to a much greater understanding of myself, as has happened to me in all of her classes. Teresa, truly is one in a million, as a teacher, counselor, mentor and person. I am so very glad I met her, albeit long distance!
~ Mary Jane F, Florida
Our maturity and poise as helpers, our
ability to create a healing presence
and to help our clients truly grow
and heal is heightened when we
refrain from imposing our judgments,
values or favorite healing modalities
and solutions, and rather first give
them the sacred courtesy of attempting
to learn their perspectives,
their feelings, their experiences,
and trust in the wisdom of the other
being’s soul and ability to heal as we
offer our knowledge, skills and abilities.
This is the client-centered,
empathy-based approach to counseling.
~ Teresa Wagner
To be faced by a troubled,
conflicted person who is seeking
and expecting help,
has always constituted
a great challenge to me.
Do I have the knowledge, the
resources, the psychological
strength, the skill?
Do I have whatever it takes to
be of help to such an individual?
Now I would phrase the
question in this way:
How can I provide
a relationship which this person
may use for his [her]
own personal growth?
If I can provide a certain
type of relationship,
the other person will discover
within himself [herself] the capacity
to use that relationship for growth,
and change and personal development will occur.
~ Carl Rogers, On Becoming a Person