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Our Staff

Shirley Elrod, Co-Founder and Executive Director

Shirley Elrod is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a Master’s Degree from the counseling program at LaSalle University.  She completed her undergraduate degree in Family Studies at the University of Maryland.  In addition to receiving  the Certification in Thanatology (CT): Death, Dying and Bereavement from the Association of Death Education and Counseling, Shirley has also received the advanced certification, Fellow in Thanatology (FT).

Working as a founding director at the Center, Shirley provides grief counseling to individuals, couples and families, believing in a health-oriented perspective that honors each person’s life meaning.  She also oversees the daily functioning and administrative work at the Center.  Working together with Christine Smith, the other founding director, she seeks to uphold the Center’s vision of providing the highest quality service to anyone seeking  help or guidance.   Previously, she worked in the crisis department at a local hospital handling psychiatric emergencies.  She also provided marriage and family counseling at a local mental health agency.

Shirley is also a Nationally Certified Bereavement Facilitator, with a certificate for the Advanced Bereavement Facilitator Program, a member of the American Academy of Bereavement, and the Association for Death Education and Counseling. She is a clinical member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy as well as the Montgomery County Counseling Association.   She has certificates in Human Resources as well as Supervisory Management from the Nonprofit Center at LaSalle University.  Shirley has taught a bereavement counseling course for a number of years in the Clinical and Counseling Psychology Master’s Degree program at Chestnut Hill College.

Shirley is a member of Comfort Caring Canines Therapy Dogs, Inc.  Clara, her eleven year old golden retriever, is registered through this organization to be a therapy dog and periodically visits the center to ‘play’ with the children at Nello’s Corner and Camp Millie or attends counseling sessions upon request.  The health benefits of being with and petting animals are well documented.  Shirley hopes that bereaved children and adults will find comfort in Clara as they talk about their experiences.

Contact Shirley at 610-222-4110 ext. 121 or by email at