Emotional and Bereavement Support

Counselling and Emotional Support

From worries about friends and family to feelings about dying, our counsellors and student counsellors are here to help you cope with the emotional impact of living with a terminal illness or caring for someone with a terminal or life-limiting diagnosis. Through one to one sessions or group work, our confidential support services aim to give you the space to explore your feelings and can help you find strength to face your challenges.

Our team of counsellors respond to individual needs and seek to support patients, families and carers in the most appropriate way, at the most appropriate time. Support from the counselling team is available from the time someone is referred to St Catherine’s Hospice until five years* after bereavement.

*exceptions are made for those under 18 at time of bereavement.

What happens during a counselling session?

If you are having one to one counselling, we will talk through any of the issues or experiences that are worrying you. Each of us has our own style and way of working but broadly speaking your counsellor will help you to work through the following three steps:

  1. Exploring your experiences – the nature of your feelings and what impact they are having on you. The history of how your feelings came about and what changes you’d like to see.
  2. Understanding your experiences – why you are struggling with these feelings and what may be preventing you from overcoming them.
  3. Working with your experiences – finding the strength and resources to resolve your difficulties, or at least make them more bearable.


How much does counselling cost?

Nothing. Counselling and emotional support is free to anyone who is being cared for by St Catherine’s Hospice. We also offer free counselling to carers and people who are bereaved.

How do I arrange an appointment?

To make an appointment with one of our counsellors, please ask any one of your healthcare professionals for a referral to St Catherine’s Hospice. Alternatively you can call 01293 447343 and ask for an appointment.

Is counselling confidential?

Your sessions are confidential within certain limits. All members of our Wellbeing team, including volunteers, have regular clinical supervision to ensure the quality of their work with you. The discussions remain confidential to those attending.

Anyone under the care of the hospice has their general details kept on our electronic database, which is available to all clinical staff. In addition, we keep a brief and password-protected record of counselling sessions, which is not available to the wider hospice team. We have a clear process which makes every effort to keep your information secure.

Please discuss this with us if you have any concerns. With your agreement, we will send a letter to your GP advising that we are providing you with support.

How do I know you provide a quality service?

We monitor and evaluate our services using audit and feedback questionnaires. The results are available on request and we always welcome additional feedback to help improve our service.

I had no idea what to expect from my counselling sessions but the counsellor’s in-depth, perceptive questions enabled me to look inside myself and understand what was going on.

Bereavement Support

We’re here for you from the moment someone close to you is referred to St Catherine’s Hospice until their last days of life and beyond.

Our expert team of counsellors and support visitors can support you in the days, months or even years after your bereavement. We can offer you support in two ways. One is over the telephone and the other is via an NHS secure system, using a mobile smart phone, which allows you to see each other face to face.

It can be hard to know what to say to children and how to help them cope with the death of someone close to them. Our counselling team and hospice social worker are here to help families and children at the hospice, at home or in school. We can also talk through with you how you might talk to your children about terminal illness and death. We can offer advice and support to schools or other organisations looking after children.

Bereavement Groups

Surrounding yourself with people who understand what it is like when someone close to you dies can help during the various stages of grief in the weeks and years to come.


For those who have lost a loved one under the care of St Catherine’s Hospice, Steps is a walking and talking group where people bereaved of a loved one can walk in nature and be with other people who are going through their own grieving process. Please contact us for the start date of the next group. Pre-booking is required for this group.

Dates: Tuesdays for 6 weeks
Time: 1.45pm until 4pm
Address: Meet at the Hospice and walk into Tilgate Forest
Contact: 01293 447343

Downloadable Guides

Here, you can download information on our counselling and emotional support services.

Download ‘Talking to children when someone close is very unwell’ leaflet