Monday, May 18, 2009

Comprehensive Bereavement Skills Training

Last week I headed to Fort Collins, CO for a conference at the Center for Loss and Life Transitions. Dr. Alan Wolfelt, a leading grief expert, runs Death and Grief Education seminars throughout the year. Attending the Comprehensive Bereavement Skills Training is possibly the best thing I've ever done for myself. The 4-day seminar was powerful and informative, both personally and professionally. Alan's book "Companioning the Bereaved" (excerpt) is the essence of the conference, if you're interested in learning more about his philosophy of companioning. The seminars are limited to 18 people (ours had just 15 and I can't imagine a better group of people!). The Center is located in the mountain foothills, truly an idyllic setting.There's nothing like eating breakfast with a lake before you and mountains behind you. Alan and his staff strove to take care of us, which was a nice change of pace. I even got a massage one night! I'll be sharing what I learned last week in future posts; for now, I'm still processing what I learned.

I suppose it is time to share some of my plans. I've been contemplating working in the bereavement world for some time now. I already work with bereaved children and teens and am counseling a patient's widow. I've realized that those are the times my soul comes alive. It's not that I don't enjoy what I do as a hospice social worker because I do. I love counseling people, learning about their lives, and preparing them (as best as anyone can) for what lies ahead. However, I hate the "social work" part of my job- you know, setting up respite care, referring to community resources, helping families with long-term care plans. These are all good things and I know families benefit from this assistance but I've realized that it is not my strong-suit. To that end I've decided to pursue certification in Thanatology (Death, Dying, and Bereavement) and then pursue a position that will allow me to work with the bereaved. This process will take some time. Ideally I would work part-time as a hospice social worker and part-time in bereavement. And who knows? By the time I finish my certification maybe that will be a possibility. I'm just taking this one step at a time as God leads me. One next step to take will be going to another conference at the Center for Loss. Dr. Wolfelt offers his own Death and Grief Studies certification after you attend 5 courses. I gained so much from this past week that I can't imagine not attending more courses! I'll be sure to keep you all posted...

1 comment:

Sgt. Social Worker said...

the career path sounds awesome! It its good to peruse the things that capture your heart. We spend so much of our lives working it would be terrible to hate every minute of it.