The program is designed to help counselors, educators, and other professionals assist people who are dealing with loss. Counselor Janine Rochwite enrolled so she could better serve her patients at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital in Wauwatosa.
“I wanted to be better trained to come alongside patients in their journey and help them move forward,” Rochwite told Isthmus. “I have my own personal grief journey—the deaths of my mother and my 57-year-old sister—which inspired me to seek this certificate.”
Rochwite described her experience in the program as “life-changing.”
“The stories, connections, and training I received made me come away a changed person,” she said.
Making a difference
The Grief Support Specialist Certificate Program, initiated last year by the UW-Madison Division of Continuing Studies, is the first of its kind at a major American university. It begins with four daylong classes, taught by experts in grief therapy. A month later, students reconvene to present a final paper or project.
The program is now in session, and once again it’s having a powerful effect on participants.
“I came out of this certification workshop a different person than when I went in,” said Laura Cottrell, a current student from Hinsdale, Ill. “I understood myself, my emotions, and how to support others in their grieving process.”
Jeffrey S. Russell, dean of the Division of Continuing Studies, told Isthmus that the Grief Support Specialist Certificate Program helps connect the campus to the community.
“We’re always looking for areas in which we can help make a difference, and this is one of those areas,” Russell said. “This is the Wisconsin Idea in action—creating something useful and relevant that makes an impact.”
For more information about the Grief Support Specialist Certificate Program, contact Barbara Nehls-Lowe, firstname.lastname@example.org, 608-890-4653.