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Start a Spiritual Counseling Career with an Online Graduate Certificate

written by: Sylvia Cochran•edited by: Amanda Grove•updated: 5/14/2011

When it comes to earning an online graduate certificate, spiritual counseling is not frequently a discipline students choose. Did you know that this distance learning opportunity could open the door to a host of new experiences and spiritually-focused professions?

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    Beyond the Training: What Does a Spiritual Counselor Do?

    An emphasis in spiritual counseling introduces you to the human condition in -- sometimes -- its rawest state. You are likely to encounter grief, desperation, psychological pain as well as personal and religious crises. You may stare at the underbelly of marriage, parent and child relationships, and even clergy struggles.

    A spiritual counseling certificate may seem to only be useful for members of the clergy, but hospice professionals, victims’ advocates, addiction counselors, social workers, those in the nursing professions, and also family counselors can benefit tremendously from the lessons included.

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    Getting the Education: Know Where to Look

    The National University System -- Focus on Bereavement

    Spiritual counseling is generally equated with helping the recently bereaved to cope with the loss of a family member or close friend. This Certificate of Bereavement requires you to take eight graduate courses that total 36 credits. You come to understand age related bereavement issues and also cultural differences. In addition to learning how to help survivors, you will receive training in how to prepare a dying person for what is ahead. National University is accredited by the Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. As of 2011, the cost of tuition starts at $1,521 per course.

    Seton Hall University – Focus on Spiritual Literature

    Seton Hall focuses on spiritual literature and a deeper understanding of the Christian faith as being the springboard from which to heighten a candidate’s ability to counsel. Real life examples serve to underscore the applicability of scripture and ancillary religious writings. This in turn enables the spiritual counselor to assist others in building and preserving one-another relationships, deepening their personal walks with God, and also overcoming relationship problems. The program consists of seven courses totaling 21 credits at $875 per credit. Clergy receives a 50% discount. While the course is online, students must attend one orientation weekend in New Jersey.

    Fordham University – Focus on Health Care Ethics

    The graduate certificate that spiritual counseling candidates with an M.A. or A.P.D. are sure to appreciate -- in health care ethics -- offers transferable credits. The coursework consists of four courses and targets members of the clergy as well as volunteers desirous of learning the intricacies of the ethics surrounding end-of-life decisions, health care and social backdrops. The goal is to guide others through the maze of bioethical decision-making. Coursework includes classes from the schools of theology, law and psychology. 2011 tuition costs start at $693 per credit.

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    Caveat for Graduates

    Happy, content and exuberant clients rarely seek out spiritual counseling. You are much more likely to deal with death and destruction than birth and celebration. Can you handle this as a profession or as a volunteer opportunity in addition to meeting the demands of your profession and family?

    Since spiritual counseling takes a tremendous toll on the energy of the counselor, after all you are dealing with individuals’ eternities, those worrying about not possessing the mental and spiritual fortitude may be better served by checking out secular online counseling certificate programs.

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    Sources

    • National University System: http://www.cih.nusystem.org/Programs/BereavementStudies.html
    • Seton Hall University: http://www.shu.edu/academics/theology/certificate-great-books.cfm
    • Fordham University: http://www.fordham.edu/academics/colleges__graduate_s/graduate__profession/arts__sciences/gsas_programs__degre/masters_programs/center_for_ethics_ed/health_care_ethics_c/index.asp