Your high school counselor may be able to supply information on a career as a grief therapist. Other sources for information can be found at your local or school library, or through the Internet.
Doing volunteer work for organizations such as the Red Cross or with your local hospital, nursing home, or hospice care center will give you more experience dealing with the sick, troubled, or grieving. Participating in high school clubs or other groups that organize volunteer projects to benefit homeless people, victims of AIDS, or battered spouses can also give you valuable experience.
Grief therapists help individuals accept the death of a spouse, child, partner, parent, sibling, or loved one. Therapists give their clients reassurance and help them examine and resolve feelings, including negative ones that may be associated with the death. Counseling may be done on a one-to-one basis, with a small group, or as part of a support group.
When disasters such as accidents or violence occur, grief therapists are often brought in to speak to communities, schools, or organizations. They help people deal with the tragedy and may provide individual counseling. In recent times, therapists have been called upon when violence has hit schools, when weather-related tragedies have destroyed communities, and when an airplane has crashed or terrorist bombing has occurred.
Hospitals, nursing homes, AIDS and cancer care centers, and hospice organizations employ grief therapists to provide emotional support to patients and their families and friends. In addition, some funeral homes refer families and friends to grief therapists as part of an aftercare service following a funeral. Grief therapists also work as death educators. These specialists conduct classes for people who work in professions that deal with the sick and dying, such as medical and nursing students. They may also speak to organizations, clubs, support groups, parents, and others about issues related to death and give them suggestions on how to cope.