Sunday, September 4, 2011

Needing Professional Help

Your child has died suddenly. You are in deep depression, you can not express your grief or manage your feelings of sadness and anger, and your use of drugs or alcohol is found not to be the answer. Often, people in these situations don’t know where to turn. Finding a good counselor to help you through the grief process is recommended. Dr. Alan Wolfelt, in an article in Grief Digest, offers advice on how to go about this.

He says first is a recommendation from a friend who you trust. If they have had a good experience and feel you will too, they will want to help by giving you that name. It is worth a try but does not mean you can’t try alternative methods.

A local hospice center may have some counselors on staff or can tell you where to find someone. A hospital, family service agency and/or mental health clinic maintain a list of referral sources.

A self-help bereavement group usually maintains a list of counselors specializing in grief therapy.

Your personal physician is often knowledgeable about bereavement care specialists.

Finally, an information and referral service, such as a crisis intervention center, has lists of counselors who focus on bereavement work. According to Wolfelt, you want to be sure and seek out a good “grief” counselor, not just any counselor that might, for example, specialize in marital counseling, not grief counseling. It is important for the counselor to understand how you are feeling and there are many grief specialists out there who have also gone through the same experience and truly understand.

Wolfelt says to look in the Yellow Pages for those citing grief or bereavement as a specialty. Another credential to look for is certification from the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC).

Finally, he says, ask the following questions during your initial consultation with a counselor:
What are your credentials and where were you trained?
Have you had specialized bereavement care training?
What is your experience with bereaved people?
What is your counseling approach with a bereaved person?

You may find that the grief journey is too difficult to handle on your own, and any help that is in your community is usually appreciated by the bereaved.

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