ELP and Death Doula Difference

ELP and Death Doula Difference

November 30, 2020
Dr. Andrea Deerheart, PhD, ELP

An end-of-life practitioner (ELP) is a death doula, but a death doula may not be an end-of-life practitioner. The difference often lies within their educational backgrounds and scope of practice.

A death midwife, or death doula, is a person who assists in the dying process, much like a midwife or doula does with the birthing process.

Their services are often directed towards:

-helping families cope with death and restore sacredness to dying,

-providing respite to exhausted caregivers, and

-bringing deep meaning to the dying experience.

An end-of-life doula is a non-medical professional trained to provide non-medical comfort and support to the dying person and their loved ones in the final days, weeks, and months of life. Training programs for a death doula range from a weekend course to a several month online program.

An end-of-life practitioner is trained as a death doula and is also highly trained in skills that involve providing practical, psychological, social, and spiritual support for the dying and their caregivers.  

ELP’s are competent in:



-End-of-life care practices (vigil, end-of-life rituals, in-home funerals, Yoga Nidra)

The ELP educational curriculum is designed to provide a historical, ethical, mythological, psychological, religious/spiritual, and clinical understanding of end-of-life care.

The training utilizes several learning modalities including didactic and self-directed learning, inquiry, case reviews, oral and written examination, peer-to-peer learning and dialog, case study and council practice, reflective practices, enhancing the awareness and importance of the inner life, and professional responsibility. Contributions from medicine, the humanities, and the social sciences are all found within the ELP education program.

Their education seeks to prepare the participants with the knowledge, skills, and presence needed to address the practical, heuristic, psycho-social, and spiritual dimensions of dying. The End-of-Life Practitioner is trained to offer an approach to care that is compassion-focused and relationship centered.

Learn about our ELP Training Program

Dr. Andrea Deerheart, PhD, ELP

President and Founder of The HeartWay

Dr. Andrea Deerheart is the passionate founder of The HeartWay, a nonprofit foundation dedicated to embracing life thru honoring death. As well as the author of Elli’s Ride: Death Beyond Imagination, and the recording of Yoga Nidra: Graceful Transitions. Her primary work and teaching focuses on issues related to aging, radiant well-being, cultural mythology, death and dying, as well as grief and loss, and mindful and compassionate care. Her Doctorate degree is in mythology with an emphasis on depth psychology, comparative religions, and death, dying, and beyond.