We are open for face to face appointments and remote appointments are still available. Our Dove Buddies groups are up and running in multiple locations and we have a new weekly Bereavement Support Group in Burslem

Frequently Asked Questions


We are a charity who offers counselling and support to anyone over the age of 4 years old who is struggling with the impact of bereavement, significant loss or life-changing/limiting illness.

We also offer counselling for people with anticipatory grief, which is the grief we feel before a bereavement; you may feel anticipatory grief because someone close to you has been diagnosed with a terminal illness for example.

Our Counselling Service holds accredited status with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), which is a quality standard and means that we work within their ‘Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions’. You can find out more about the BACP on their website

You can self-refer by telephone.  Third parties / other agencies such as your GP or a family member or friend can contact us to make a referral on your behalf, but we will need to speak to you directly to confirm you have agreed to the referral.

The Dove Service will do one of the following:


  • For life-changing / limiting illness or significant loss we will invite you to an initial assessment session / or arrange for a telephone assessment.
  • For a child or young person we will arrange an initial assessment session.
  • For bereavement support (Stoke-on-Trent / North Staffs area) we will send you an information pack detailing our services. If after reading the pack you would like to access one of our bereavement support services, please telephone our office on 01782 683155. You will then be invited to an initial assessment.
  • For bereavement support (other locations) we will arrange an initial assessment either face to face or over the telephone.

This is a one-to-one meeting with an experienced counsellor where you can both discuss your needs and what the Dove Service can offer.  Our assessments usually last between 30-45 minutes and can also be undertaken over the phone if this is more convenient.

If you decide one of our services is for you then the counsellor will discuss our service agreement and the boundaries of confidentiality with you.

Basic personal information will be collected so we can add you to our waiting list and the counsellor will invite you to complete some questionnaires together.  These will help you to explore how you are feeling, the areas that are causing you to struggle, and help you to focus on what you want to get out of counselling with us.

This is also your opportunity to ask questions about counselling and to let us know if you have any preferences about the counsellor that you are matched with.  We understand that some of our clients are more comfortable with male counsellors and others with female, and the age of your counsellor may be important to you.  We will do what we can to get you the right support with the right counsellor.

At the end of your assessment session we will let you know what our current wait times are, and then you will be added to our waiting list.

If anything changes for you whilst you are on the waiting list, or you feel as though you need to talk to someone because you have started to feel worse, you can call our offices at any time during our opening hours.

At difficult times in your life you can sometimes feel isolated. It could be that you feel like you have nobody to turn to who would understand. Alternatively, for whatever reason, you may not want to turn to friends and family. At times like these you may feel it could be helpful to turn to someone independent, such as a counsellor.

Counselling is a form of ‘talking therapy’ that can be provided in many different ways. Our aim is to create a private, undisturbed and confidential environment where we hope you will quickly be able to develop a trusting working relationship with your counsellor and can safely talk about your feelings, emotions and thoughts.

Counselling is not about giving advice or having a friendly chat.  Your counsellor is an impartial professional.

There are many different types of Counselling, at the Dove Service the majority of our Counsellors are trained in Person-Centred Counselling which is a ‘Humanistic’ approach.  In essence this means that the counselling will be lead by you, as our client, to use your inner resources to understand your thoughts and feelings, whilst offering you an environment that is non-judgemental, open, honest, empathic and respectful.

If you decide to come to the Dove Service for counselling please feel free to ask your Counsellor about their training and background, different people need different things from counselling, so it’s important to us that you get what you need.

As a general guide, we suggest that counselling is not always helpful within three months of a bereavement.  However, we can’t say exactly how much time should pass before considering if counselling will be helpful because everyone’s reaction to grief and loss is different.  Giving yourself some time after a death can give you the time to deal with some of the practical issues that are associated with bereavement and some space to begin making adjustments to your life.

If you are struggling to cope on a day-to-day basis, or feel stuck in your grief, you may find that counselling could be of benefit to you no matter how recent or distant your bereavement.

We’re really sorry to hear that you’re not happy with some aspect of the support or service that you’ve received from us.  If you feel able to raise your complaint directly with your counsellor or the member of staff concerned, please do so, we would always prefer to clear up any issues immediately.  However, if you feel that your complaint is serious or you can’t raise it directly, please do not hesitate to contact our CEO Charlie O’Dell by emailing [email protected] you will receive a response within 48 working hours.

Each Counselling session costs the charity over £50. Free counselling is available via our NHS projects across most of Staffordshire but our funding doesn’t cover our full costs so we always welcome any donations or contributions to help us maintain and enhance the quality of our service delivery.  If free counselling is not available or you don’t wish to wait we can provide self funded sessions, just contact us for more information. 

Counselling can take place at our Head Office in the Dudson Centre, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. We also have various outreaches where we also offer counselling around the country. Have a look at our locations map, here to see where our closest location is to you, or call our Head Office on 01782 683155.

Trust is a big part in you feeling safe to talk to your counsellor about your thoughts and feelings. Confidentiality is important in creating this trust. Your counsellor will not discuss details of your session with your family, friends, employers, etc.

There are certain circumstances where there are exceptions to confidentiality. If, for example, your counsellor was concerned by the end of the session that there was a high risk that you were going to seriously harm yourself then they have a duty of care to you to ensure you are safe. It is likely that your GP may be contacted. However, your counsellor would always try to gain your consent before doing that.

Other exceptions to confidentiality would be surrounding the safety of others – child protection issues, acts of terrorism, etc.

Sessions are 50 minutes long and usually at the same time and location each week. You will meet one-to-one, usually for up to 6 meetings, with the same counsellor, who is trained and experienced in providing counselling support to people affected by grief or loss.

Bereavement Support Groups provide a safe place for you to talk about your experiences and share with others who are going through similar experiences.

At least one of your facilitators will be a qualified counsellor. Your facilitators will advise you of the ground rules of the group, they will co-ordinate your discussions and provide encouragement and support.

Drop-in support groups are held weekly at our Head Office within the Dudson Centre, Hanley.  Group meetings are held on Wednesday mornings from 10.00am to 11.15am (no appointment required).

For more information regarding our Drop-in and Social groups please visit our Facebook page.

Grief is a normal experience for most people in life.  However, even though people can have similar reactions, grief is a highly individual experience.  There is no right or wrong way to grieve and no set time scale. It is important to allow yourself time to come to terms with loss. Someone’s reactions to a death can be influenced by many factors, for example:
  • cultural or religious traditions;
  • personal beliefs about life after death;
  • nature of relationship ended by death (e.g. partner, family member, or friend);
  • the cause of death;
  • the person’s age at death;
  • if the death was sudden or expected;
  • thoughts about our own death.
  You may experience some, or all, of the following feelings and emotions, and in no particular order:
  • Shock and numbness
  • Sadness
  • Guilt
  • Anger
  • Shame
  • Loneliness
  • Depression
Some people experience physical sensations when they grieve, such as:
  • Tiredness, sleeplessness, bad dreams
  • Loss of appetite or increased appetite
  • Being forgetful / loss of concentration
  • Difficulty breathing / choking feeling
  • Muscle tension / headaches
  • Anxiety / feeling of panic
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness / palpitations / shaking
  • Changed interest in sex

Please take a look at our Information Videos

What is Grief?
Why the Dove Service?
Who is the Dove Service?
What is Counselling?
What is Bereavement
Group Support?
An Introduction to the Counselling Agreement
Confidentiality in
How do you use my personal
What can you expect from the Dove Service?
What are the Dove Service standards?
Providing the Dove Service with feedback of your experience