Counselling strategies for bereaved people offered in primary care

S. Payne*, N. Jarrett, R. Wiles, D. Field

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this study was to identify strategies that general practice-based counsellors used when offering support to bereaved clients. Over the last decade, there has been a rapid growth in the provision of counselling services associated with British primary care services. A study was designed involving qualitative methods of data collection (semi-structured interviews) and analysis (a grounded theory approach). Counsellors were recruited from two cities in Southern Britain (Plymouth and Southampton). Twenty nine (76% response rate) counsellors agreed to participate (Southampton n =15, Plymouth, n =14). Semi-structured face-to-face audio-taped interviews elicited information about their perceptions of the appropriateness of general practitioner referrals, counselling strategies and models of bereavement. Analysis indicated that counsellors saw bereavement counselling within a broader agenda of work concerned with loss and relationship management. Many drew on eclectic approaches to bereavement counselling and specific strategies included: facilitating telling of the 'story' of the loss; engaging in active listening and valuing allowing people to talk; establishing a supportive relationship; and enabling the bereaved person to deal with unfinished business and to say 'goodbye'. Counsellors drew on implicit stage/phase models of grief that assumed levels of distress reduced over time. The value of these strategies requires more exploration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-177
Number of pages17
JournalCounselling Psychology Quarterly
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2002


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