Speak to us: 
01782 683155 / 0300 102 3683 

Frequently Asked Questions

Please take a look at some of the frequently asked questions.

What is the Dove Service?

The Dove Service is a charity offering counselling and support to anyone over the age of 4 years old struggling with the impact of bereavement, significant loss or life-changing/limiting illness. We also provide training and workshops throughout the UK.

How do I access the Dove Service?

You can self-refer by telephone, letter or email. Third parties / other agencies such as your GP can contact us to make a referral on your behalf, but we will need to speak to you directly to confirm your agreement.

What happens once a referral has been made?

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.

What is an initial assessment?

This is a 50 minute one-to-one meeting with an experienced counsellor where you can both discuss your needs and what the Dove Service can offer.

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

Information will be collected so we can add you to our waiting list – address / contact details / date of birth / GP details / the reason you are seeking support.

The counsellor will invite you to complete some questionnaires together. These will help both of you to explore how you are feeling.

Together you will explore what you hope to achieve by the end of support from the Dove Service.

You will be added to the waiting list and advised of our current wait times.

What is Counselling?

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 who will listen to you in a non-judgemental way (this means not judging what a person discloses about themselves, their attitudes or behaviours).

When is the right time for counselling?

If you have been bereaved and some time has passed since your loss and you find that you are still struggling to cope on a day-to-day basis you may find that counselling could be of benefit to you.  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.  As a general guide, we suggest that counselling is not always helpful within three months of a loss.  Waiting until this time has passed allows you to mourn and begin making adjustments to your life.

We also offer counselling for people with anticipatory grief.  This means you could come and explore your feelings around someone close to you having been diagnosed with a terminal illness.  We also offer counselling if you have a life-changing or terminal illness.  Only you will know if it feels the time is right for you to talk to someone about these issues.

Do I have to pay?

Each Counselling session costs the charity £45.  In some areas the local CCG part-fund this charge.  In this case we would simply invite you to make a contribution each session to help us to maintain and enhance the quality of our service delivery.  If the CCG does not part-fund the counselling in your area you will be charged for the sessions.  This will be discussed with you when you first contact us for support.

Where does the counselling take place?

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 Click Here to see where our closest location is to you, or call our Head Office on 01782 683155.

Is counselling confidential?

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.

How long does counselling last?

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.

What are Bereavement Support Groups?

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.

Groups in community settings typically meet fortnightly for 90 minutes.

Drop-in groups are held weekly at the Dudson Centre.  Group meetings are held on Wednesdays at 10am and Thursdays at 5:30pm for 75 minutes.

Is my grief normal?

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

See 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 information?

What can you expect from the Dove Service?

What are the Dove Service standards?

Providing the Dove Service with feedback of your experience

Would you like more information?

Please contact enquiries@thedoveservice.org.uk or ring us at our Head Office on 01782 683155