Spotlight on our Specialist Counselling Service

Members of St John’s Hospice Specialist Counselling Service are pictured.

Our Specialist Counselling Service provides confidential and compassionate support for patients and their loved ones.

Counselling complements all other St John’s Hospice services, by acknowledging the need for psychological support as well as physical care for patients, and the team also provide support for Hospice staff through supervision, or de-briefs.

The five-strong team of trained counsellors support people through the journey of their condition, including patients who are newly diagnosed, those with a curative diagnosis, people receiving palliative care, including any loved ones affected by the diagnosis,  as well as providing pre and post bereavement support, by supporting them to address their emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual needs, at what can be a worrying and challenging period of their lives.

Lead Counsellor Kerry Griffiths, who has worked within the service for over 16 years said: “People can feel very isolated, so it’s important to provide a non-judgemental safe space where they can acknowledge their feelings and emotions and share their innermost thoughts to help them normalise the way they’re feeling and make them easier to understand.

“We explore ways to navigate their new landscape and manage these emotions – by enabling choice, change, or reducing confusion – it doesn’t involve giving advice or directing them to take a particular course of action, it’s about supporting them to develop their own personal toolkit to cope with their situation.”

People are able to self-refer into the service, which offers one to one, couple, family, and bereavement counselling as appropriate to their individual needs, and offers a choice of face-to-face, telephone or virtual services.

Kerry said: “Bottled up feelings such as anger, guilt, anxiety, grief, or embarrassment can become very intense, through counselling we are able to explore these feelings with the possibility of making them easier to understand.

She added: “When we support people after a bereavement, we help them deal with their feelings of loss, and help them to deal effectively with grief, by considering thoughts, feelings and behaviours that are new and/or difficult to cope with and acknowledging that grief is not something we get over, it’s something we learn to live with.”

“We are very passionate about what we do, and it’s a great privilege to be in a position to support someone through the journey of coping with their emotions and facilitate change.”

Counselling sessions last for one hour at a time and depending on the needs of the individual 12 sessions are initially offered, but if further support is needed more sessions can be arranged.

Kerry said: “If people are unsure whether counselling is for them, we provide a leaflet, which explains what we do and would always encourage people to give it a try – everything we do is based around the individual – they are in charge of what we discuss and how we progress.”

For more information about the Specialist Counselling Service, or to self-refer, please phone 03000 214000, or email The team have also created YouTube video to support anyone dealing with grief, which can be viewed at: