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How Did the Amelia Center Begin?

Amelia Elliott smiling

Monday, June 26, 1995, on a railroad track crossing near YMCA’s Camp Cosby in Alpine, Alabama, a train collided with a car carrying four camp counselors. All of them were killed instantly. One of those counselors was a young lady named Amelia Elliott.

Because no place like The Amelia Center existed, this tragic accident highlighted the need for support for the children and families grieving the death of these individuals. In a partnership with Children’s of Alabama, Amelia’s parents (George and Jerrie), along with the community and many supportive friends, had a vision to create a place of hope for grieving families. The Amelia Center opened its doors in July 1997. Since then, its team of counselors has provided a place of hope for thousands of grieving individuals.

The Amelia Center Today

The Vision for The Amelia Center is that all grieving children, parents and families in the greater Birmingham region have access to a caring and compassionate environment that fosters hope and healing.

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Services Provided

The Amelia Center provides professional counseling for children (age 5 and above) and teens grieving the death of a parent, grandparent, sibling, close relative, or friend. We provide a safe place where they can find hope and creatively express feelings through art and play.

Counseling is also provided for parents grieving the death of a child of any age, ranging from pregnancy loss through adulthood. Support groups for children, teens, and parents are available as well.

Counseling Services


Event Details

The Amelia Center’s 15th Annual Spring Bereavement Workshop

Friday, April 14, 2023 @ 8:30am-3:30pm






Featured Presenter:  
Phyllis Kosminsky, Ph.D., LCSW

Featured Topics:
Attachment Informed Grief Therapy: 
Interventions to create safety, strengthen self-capacities, and promote re-engagement

Presenter Slides (PDF)


Vestavia Civic Center
1090 Montgomery Hwy
Vestavia Hills, AL 35216

$95 Early Registration ($105 if postmarked after 3/23/2023)
$70 Student Rate (proof of student status required)
Includes Workshop, Continuing Education Credit, Chicken Biscuit Breakfast, Lunch, and Refreshments



Registration will be guaranteed when payment is received.

If paying by check, complete this form and return with check made payable to “The Amelia Center”
Send payment to - 1513 4th Avenue South, Birmingham, AL 35233

Continuing Education Credit
5.5 Total Contact Hours (1 hour ethics)

  • NBCC Provider # 6193*  
  • AL Social Workers Provider # 0354 (4.5 Clinical Hours, 1 hour ethics) 
  • Others may apply for credit through their accreditation boards.  All participants will receive a certificate of attendance.





Attachment status is one of a very few factors that have consistently been identified by researchers seeking to understand the underlying causes of complicated vs. normal grief. These findings concerning adaptation to loss are part of a growing body of research emphasizing the impact of early relational experience and attachment orientation on emotional health across the lifespan. In this full day presentation, the instructor will explain the significance of contemporary perspectives on attachment that are critical to understanding variations in how people grieve and will explore in depth the implications of these insights for the practice of therapy with bereaved individuals. 

Death competence, defined as specialized skill in tolerating and managing clients’ problems related to dying, death, and bereavement, is a necessary prerequisite for ethical practice in grief counseling. We will discuss the evolution of this concept and consider why death competence is essential to providing clinically effective and ethically sensitive grief counseling. Throughout the day we will use client videos and case discussion to deepen our understanding of how theory translates into practice. Ample time will also be given for questions and discussion with those in attendance. You will end the day with insight into the value of attachment theory in guiding treatment formulation and with tools that will help you support your bereaved clients.

Learning Objectives
At the conclusion of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify core principles of attachment theory that relate to grief and loss.
  2. Define what is meant by “death competence" and discuss why death competence is essential to the ethical practice of grief therapy.
  3. Describe recent developments in bereavement research, in neuroscience and in attachment theory that bear on our understanding of how people adapt to loss.
  4. Describe what is meant by “attachment informed grief therapy” and discuss the practical application of attachment theory in providing bereavement support to individuals with attachment related grief complications.



Registrants who notify The Amelia Center in writing of their cancellation on or before the early registration deadline date will receive a 100% refund of the registration fee. Those who cancel after the early registration deadline, but before the workshop date, will receive a refund of 50% of the registration fee. Organizations may send a substitute attendee if the original registrant is unable to attend. No refunds will be issued on or following the workshop date.

Schedule (8:30 am – 3:30 pm)
8:00 am                       Registration and Breakfast
8:30 am                       Program begins
11:30 am                     Lunch
12:15 pm                     Program resumes
3:30 pm                       Evaluations, Adjournment and Certificates


PHYLLIS KOSMINSKY, PhD, FT, is a clinical social worker in private practice in Westchester, New York, and at the Center for Hope in Darien, Connecticut, where her work focuses on grief, loss and trauma. She received her Master’s Degree in Social Work from Columbia University and her Ph.D. in Social Welfare from Brandeis University. She is a certified provider of EMDR and has extensive training in hypnotherapy as an adjunctive psychotherapy technique.


* The Amelia Center of Children’s of Alabama has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6193. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. The Amelia Center of Children’s of Alabama is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.

Training Education Consultation

Training and educational services are available to schools, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit organizations.

Training and educational services are available to schools, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit organizations. Each training is tailored to the needs of your organization. We often provide training to schools in the following areas:

  • Critical Incident Planning for schools
  • Understanding the grieving process
  • Identifying signs of distress in grieving individuals and how best to support them

Schools and organizations that have utilized this training have contacted The Amelia Center and expressed a greater sense of confidence in dealing with a death in their organization. Organizations that activate their Critical Incident Plan many times do not need additional Crisis Intervention services.

A reasonable fee will be charged for education services and training and travel costs to organizations.  For more information, please contact 205-638-7481 or email Emily Lloyd Green, Education and Training Coordinator.

The Amelia Center of Children’s of Alabama has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6193. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. The Amelia Center of Children’s of Alabama is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.

The Amelia Center of Children's of Alabama is also an approved CE provider for Alabama Social Work (#0354).

School Resources

Approved Continuing Education Provider Logo


The Amelia Center - A Place for Hope

Meet Our Staff

Robert Smith, MA, LPC-S

Robert Smith, MA, LPC-S serves as Executive Director for The Amelia Center, a comprehensive grief counseling center of Children's of Alabama. Mr. Smith is responsible for short and long-range planning and management of The Amelia Center. Other duties include family and individual counseling, development of sound fiscal, program and support policies and teaching educational programs sponsored by The Amelia Center. Mr. Smith is also a Supervising Counselor.

Mr. Smith has served as an Adjunct Professor in the Graduate School of UAB where he taught Death and Dying and has been a guest lecturer on the topics of Death and Dying, Grief, and Hope at the University of Montevallo and Samford University and has been a presenter at the 8th and 9th National Symposium on Children's Grief Support. Mr. Smith has worked in over 40 schools involved in crisis and is experienced in crisis intervention and suicide prevention through his work with The Crisis Center of Birmingham.

Mr. Smith received his Master of Art in Community Agency Counseling in June of 2000 and Bachelors degree in Psychology in June of 1995 from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In February of 2001 he received advanced training in Critical Incident Stress Debriefing, and in October of 2001 received training in Psychotraumatology, both from the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation in Baltimore, Maryland. Robert is married to his wife, Rhonda. They have two sons, Landon and Brennen.

Emily Lloyd Green, MA, LPC

Emily Lloyd Green, MA, LPC serves as Training and Education Coordinator for the Amelia Center. Mrs. Greene completed a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Alabama in 2011 and a Master of Arts in Counseling at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2015.

During her graduate studies Mrs. Green worked as an intern at The Amelia Center and immediately appreciated the value of the services that were provided to grieving families. After graduation she worked in various agencies focusing on substance abuse and mental illness. Mrs. Green feels honored to be able to return to The Amelia Center and assist clients as they work through the grief process.

Valeri Cowart, MA, LPC

Valeri Cowart, MA, LPC serves as the Group Counseling Coordinator for the Amelia Center. In addition to providing individual and family counseling, she is also responsible for developing, coordinating, and facilitating supportive groups to assist our clients as they progress through the grief process.

Ms. Cowart received her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and her Master of Arts degree in Community Counseling from the University of Alabama-Birmingham. She feels strongly about her commitment to serving those who are experiencing challenging life situations and began her career in the helping profession as a programming and volunteer manager for First Light, a local homeless shelter for women and children. Her initial interest in grief counseling was sparked by her involvement with hospice patients and their families as a Volunteer Coordinator and Program Liaison for Alacare Home Health and Hospice. As she worked alongside patients and families, she developed a deep respect and sensitivity for those facing the death of a loved one and decided to further her education in the counseling field. While completing her master's degree, Ms. Cowart worked as a substance abuse counselor and met requirements for becoming a Certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse Professional. She is the proud mom of two daughters and considers it a special privilege to give hope to the grieving children who come through our doors.

Matthew Bunt, M.Ed., LPC-S

Matthew Bunt, M.Ed., LPC-S serves as Outreach Coordinator for The Amelia Center. Mr. Bunt received his Bachelors of Science in Business Administration from Samford University.  He received his Masters of Education in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Montevallo. Mr. Bunt volunteered from 2001 until 2005 assisting with the children's support groups and completed internship from 2007 to 2008 at the Amelia Center.  He has served full-time at the Amelia Center since 2010.

Mr. Bunt's other experience includes working with Alabama Youth Homes as a counselor for adolescent males, volunteering with Mustard Seed Society facilitating and assisting with Equine Assisted Psychotherapy groups, instructing horseback riding lessons as a registered PATH, International Instructor with Special Equestrians, Inc.,  and serving as clinical supervisor to Associate Licensed Counselors in the community at various agencies. 

He has presented to numerous school systems in the area of crisis intervention after the death of a student or faculty member. He has also presented at many conferences including the National Alliance for Grieving Children's national symposium.  He serves as an Adjunct Professor for Samford University's department of Human Development and Family Science.

Dusty Sivley, MA, LPC

Dusty Sivley, MA, LPC serves as a Internship Coordinator for The Amelia Center. Her duties include family and individual counseling for grieving children, teens, and adults. She also coordinates the internship program and supervises graduate-level interns from UAB and the University of Montevallo.

Mrs. Sivley received her Master of Art in Community Agency Counseling in December of 2007 and Bachelors degree in Psychology in May of 2005 from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Mrs. Sivley originally came to The Amelia Center as a counseling intern and immediately fell in love with the center and the services it provides for grieving families throughout Alabama. She enjoys assisting the clients of The Amelia Center as they work through the grieving process.

Yvonne Jackson

Yvonne Jackson is the Receptionist/Intake Assistant for The Amelia Center. Mrs. Jackson's duties include greeting clients as they arrive at the Center, scheduling appointments, interviewing clients for their initial intake, and other clerical duties. She comes to this job with a wealth of experience working for Children's Health System.


Leisa Bailey

Leisa Bailey is the Office Manager for The Amelia Center. Ms. Bailey holds a bachelor's degree in psychology with a minor in communication management.  Ms. Bailey's duties include managing the day to day operations of the Center and assisting the Executive Director. Ms. Bailey comes to The Amelia Center with over 20 years of experience.

Contact Us

The Amelia Center

1513 Fourth Avenue South
Birmingham, Alabama 35233

Phone: 205-638-7481
Fax: 205-638-7492
Email: ameliacenter@childrensal.org

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