Our Guide on How to Become A Bereavement Counsellor

Grief is a universal human experience, and for some, the journey through loss can be overwhelming. Bereavement counsellors play a crucial role in providing support and guidance to individuals navigating the complexities of grief. If you're passionate about helping others cope with loss and want to pursue a career in bereavement counselling, this guide will walk you through the essential steps to becoming a certified bereavement counsellor.

Key Skills to Develop as a Bereavement Counsellor

Empathy and Compassion: Bereavement counsellors must possess a deep sense of empathy and compassion to connect with grieving individuals and offer them genuine support and understanding.

Active Listening: Effective listening skills are essential in bereavement counselling to allow clients to express their emotions and experiences without judgment.

Communication Skills: Clear and empathetic communication is vital in building trust and rapport with clients and facilitating meaningful therapeutic conversations.

Emotional Resilience: Dealing with grief and loss on a daily basis can be emotionally taxing, so resilience and self-care practices are crucial for maintaining mental well-being.

Cultural Sensitivity: Bereavement counsellors should be sensitive to cultural differences in grieving processes and adapt their approach accordingly to ensure culturally competent care.

What Qualifications do you need?

To become a bereavement counsellor, you typically need a relevant counselling qualification, such as a diploma or degree in counselling or psychotherapy. Our Level 4 Diploma in Counselling Skills & Theory covers relationships, bereavement and loss as part of the syllabus. Many counsellors also pursue specialised training or certifications in bereavement counselling through accredited programmes or workshops.

How Long Does it Take to Train?

The length of training to become a bereavement counsellor can vary depending on the educational pathway you choose. Diploma or degree programmes in counselling typically range from two to four years, while specialised training in bereavement counselling may require additional time, ranging from several months to a year or more.

How do you stay up to date?

Staying up to date with the latest research, techniques, and best practices in bereavement counselling is essential for providing effective support to clients. To stay current, consider attending workshops, seminars, or conferences that focus on grief and bereavement counselling. Additionally, joining professional organisations or online communities can provide opportunities for networking and knowledge-sharing with fellow counsellors. At Chrysalis we have a growing suite of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) workshops that are specially designed to provide our students with new skills and knowledge in many different areas relevant to your practice. Engaging in peer supervision, case consultations, and reflective practice can deepen counsellors' understanding and enhance their skills in supporting grieving individuals.


Hands-on experience through placements or internships is invaluable for aspiring bereavement counsellors. Being able to apply theoretical knowledge in real-world settings and develop practical skills under supervision is extremely important to your development. Many of our students complete a placement at Cruse who specialise in bereavement support.

What Career Pathways are Available?

Bereavement counsellors can pursue diverse career pathways in various settings, including hospitals, hospices, community organisations, schools, and private practice. In hospitals and hospices, counsellors provide support to patients and families facing end-of-life issues and bereavement. Community organisations offer grief support groups, counselling services, and outreach programmes to individuals and families in need. Schools may employ counsellors to support students coping with loss, trauma, or other challenges. Private practice allows counsellors to work independently, offering personalised counselling services to clients seeking support for grief and loss issues. Exploring these career pathways can help aspiring bereavement counsellors identify opportunities aligned with their interests and goals.

Challenges of Becoming a Grief Counsellor

Emotional Toll: Constant exposure to clients' intense emotions and stories of loss can take a toll on the emotional well-being of bereavement counsellors. It's essential to develop healthy coping mechanisms and seek support when needed.

Boundaries: Maintaining professional boundaries while offering empathetic support can be challenging for bereavement counsellors. Balancing empathy with maintaining a therapeutic distance is essential to avoid burnout and emotional exhaustion.

Complexity of Grief: Grief is a complex and multifaceted experience, and each individual's journey through loss is unique. Bereavement counsellors must be prepared to navigate the complexities of grief, including unresolved emotions, trauma, and complicated family dynamics.

Self-Care: Prioritising self-care is crucial for bereavement counsellors to prevent compassion fatigue and maintain their well-being. Practising self-care activities, seeking supervision, and engaging in peer support can help counsellors manage the emotional demands of their work.

How Much Does a Bereavement Counsellor Get Paid?

The average salary of a bereavement counsellor can vary depending on location, experience, and employer. The average salary for a Bereavement Counsellor in the United Kingdom is £34,558 per year, according to Glassdoor.

Becoming a bereavement counsellor requires a combination of education, training, and personal qualities such as empathy and resilience. By acquiring the necessary skills and qualifications, gaining practical experience through placements, and staying informed about advancements in the field, you can embark on a fulfilling career path dedicated to supporting individuals through their journey of grief and healing.

If you are interested in becoming a bereavement counsellor or studying counselling with Chrysalis Courses check out our counselling courses or request a prospectus.