How Do I Find a Grief Counselor?

A fellow caregiver asked...

How do I go about finding a grief counselor?

Expert Answer

Martha Clark Scala has been a psychotherapist in private practice since 1992, with offices in Palo Alto and San Francisco, California. She regularly writes about grief and loss, the necessity of self-care, and substance abuse. Her e-newsletter, "Out on a Limb," is available to subscribers through her website.

Try any or all of the following suggestions to find a list of grief counselors you may wish to see.

Ask for personal referrals. Ask for recommendations from your friends, neighbors, minister or rabbi, doctor, the social worker who was assigned to your loved one's case, and anyone else who has recently grieved a loss. This personal approach is an extremely effective way to locate people or organizations others have found helpful. It also may allow you to find out more information, because you can ask targeted questions about why the person recommends a particular counselor.

Do an Internet search. Using a search engine such as or, type in grief counselor and then the town or city in which you live. This ought to yield listings of grief counselors and organizations in your vicinity. Some sites that collect listings also invite clients to give ratings and feedback about the person or services they've used. Although the comments are subjective, they might yield some information that you'll find helpful in your search.

Connect with chat lines or listservs. If you're a proficient computer user, you may have already connected with a "virtual" community of grievers. It may take a bit more patience to find one using a search engine. You might begin with the community discussion groups at Know that there are also chat lines and online community groups tailored to specific types of loss, such as sibling loss or loss through suicide. Once you've located a virtual community, you might ask members of that community for suggestions, too.

Check the telephone book. Long before the Web was around to do quick and elaborate searches for information, there were the good old Yellow Pages. They can still be an effective way to find potential counselors in the vicinity, often yielding more targeted results. Look in the local listings under headings such as counselors, social service organizations, or simply grief.

Contact your insurer. If you have health insurance, your provider may be able to help you access services specific to your area.

Call a hotline. Crisis hotlines are often a good source of referrals for services available within your geographic area. To find a crisis line, search the Internet using crisis plus the name of your city or town. Or look in the Yellow Pages of the telephone book under crisis.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of places to get referrals, but it ought to give you a good start. Summon as much resourcefulness as possible, and you'll no doubt locate a person or an organization that can help you.