Grief Support Specialist Certificate (Online)

The Grief Support Specialist Certificate program was featured in an Isthmus article about living with loss. Read the article here»

This course replicates the in-person version in learning objectives and content over a two-month period of time. Class materials available online from July 18-Sept 11, 2017. An introduction to the course begins on July 14. The course includes 20 hours of lectures and assignments and 15-20 hours for a project. A $500 deposit is required at registration; remaining balance due by July 5. Withdraw before June 20 to receive a full refund of your tuition minus a $100 administrative fee. No refunds after June 20.

At a glance

What: Grief Support Specialist Certificate (Online)


Where: Online

Cost: $1,295 before Jun 20; $1,495 after Jun 20 | 3.5 CEUs, 26 CECH

Continuing education credit: 35 hours (3.5 CEUs), 26 CECH (CHES) contact hours

Register Online
or register by phone at

For additional information, contact Barbara Nehls-Lowe: 608-890-4653

Agenda and objectives, PDF

First of its kind in the nation

This certificate program is the first of its kind in the nation at a major university. The instructors are renowned experts in the field, more than one of whom have experienced great loss themselves. The program and 3 of the instructors are featured in the May issue of Brava Magazine in Teri Barr's article The Positive Power of Grief: Using the Pain to Help Others.

CEUs and prerequisites

The Grief Support Specialist Certificate provides 3.5 Continuing Education Units (35 hours of professional continuing education) for people in a variety of professions including, but not limited to, psychology, social work, counseling, and marriage and family therapy.

To enroll, you must have a bachelor’s degree in a health care or counseling field and/or employment in a health care or counseling setting. Call Barbara Nehls-Lowe at 608-890-4653 if you have questions or concerns about this.

Your employer may be willing to pay for part or all of this course. View this document for details»

Is now the right time?

If you have had a significant loss within the past year, you may want to consider delaying participation in this program. The content may be difficult to process so soon after your own loss. If this applies to you and you would like to discuss, please contact Barbara Nehls-Lowe.

Meet your instructors

Lead Instructor Douglas Smith (MA, MSc, MDiv) is a professional speaker, trainer, and consultant with over 25 years’ experience as a counselor, therapist, and health care administrator. He has worked in hospitals, hospices, and social services agencies. He is the author of a number of books including: The Tao of Dying; Caregiving: Hospice-Proven Techniques for Healing Body and Soul; Being a Wounded Healer; and The Complete Book of Counseling the Dying and the Grieving.

Tara Potter, after losing her husband at age 31, was faced with raising 2 young children, helping them understand and adjust to losing a father at a young age. She eventually transformed her personal experiences in grief, her background in both business and education, and her degree in psychology into her current employment as continuing care coordinator for the 8 offices of Cress Funeral Services. She has done numerous presentations on her unique work, including a presentation at the International Death, Grief and Bereavement Conference, presenting a workshop on various creative employment possibilities and opportunities in grief counseling.

Molly Tomony (MA, ATR-BC, LPC) is currently a child and family therapist for the Rainbow Project in Madison, Wisconsin. She has taught art therapy and education for both the University of Wisconsin and Edgewood College, and has worked in several hospices, specializing in art therapy and grief work with children. Molly has extensive experience in running grief groups for both hospices and schools, having written manuals for running grief groups in elementary, middle, and high school settings. She has also applied her art therapy talents to individuals with disabilities and is currently an art instructor for SALSO (Strong Artistic Ladies Speaking Out).

Ridley Usherwood (MA, D.Min) has over 40 years of experience in education, teaching, research, and program design. He is currently grief support coordinator for Home Health United as well as a practicing marriage and family therapist, with a strong background in pastoral ministry and counseling. He has taught classes in multi-cultural studies at Edgewood College and was for 9 years the director of the Intercultural Studies Program at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee. Ridley has done work in South Korea, Brazil, Great Britain, Ghana, Germany, Argentina, the Philippines, Ecuador, and Canada. He has also assisted in the development of Hope Africa University in Nairobi, Kenya.

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