Bereavement Counselling - Continuing Professional Development Training

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Stephen Callus

Sunday 18, 25 Feb 2018 & 4, 18, 25 March 2018 10:30 – 16:30

Guild House, 30-32 Worple Rd, Wimbledon, London SW19 4EF

Workshop cost: This five day training costs £600 per person and we have only 20 spaces on this course.  Within this we will hold 5 spaces for current Wimbledon Guild counsellors or Alumni of the Counselling Diploma or Postgraduate diploma programmes at a 10% reduction. Early-bird discount of 15% available until 1stSeptember 2017


The aims of the bereavement counselling training are:

  • To assist counsellors in understanding the bereavement process
  • To gain an overview of different models for working with bereavement
  • To gain practical experience in working on issues involved in bereavement


This 25 hour programme will be run at Guild House on five Sundays in February and March 2018, from 10.30-4.30 with one hour for a lunch break (please bring your own lunch).

2018 Dates: Feb 18th, 25th. March 4th, 18th and 25th.
Participation would be limited to 20 people, in order to allow for small group and triad work.


There will be some reading material distributed by email before each Module, to help prepare participants, and some suggestions about general reading material.

Each module will include a teaching element, small group work and a skills-practice or experiential element. On request, a supervision space, to think about past or present bereaved clients participants have worked with, or the bereaved practitioner, could also be included. 

During some of the skills practice, participants will be provided with scenarios and work in triads and provide feedback to one another. Some sharing of personal experiences of loss is also an aspect of the course in order to give participants opportunities to hear others talk about their losses.

Participants are encouraged to keep a personal journal for their own personal use during the course.

Pointers to further resources, books, websites etc will be given as the course progresses.

Module 1: Introduction to Bereavement Counselling: “Holding On” or “Letting Go”?

We begin by introducing ourselves and sharing some of our hopes and possible apprehensions about embarking on this course.

We’ll also take a look at the diversity of counselling approaches represented in the group, and throughout the course we will consider what each approach has to contribute to the therapeutic process and working with bereavement in particular.

We will start to think about what we mean by, and have experienced, as loss.

We will take a first look at some of the literature on and ideas about the typical landscape of bereavement, including Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, William Worden, Margaret Strobe, Tony Walter and others.

Participants will be invited to consider their own experiences of loss and see how theory and experience sit together.

We will also explore Linda Machin’s Adult Attitudes to Grief questionnaire and take a first look at thinking about the counsellor’s role.

Module 2: Complex Bereavement: Mediators of Grief

In this module we will build on theory introduced in Module 1 and begin by looking at some statistics to do with deaths.

We will think about when bereavement becomes more complex: for example, where the person died suddenly or traumatically, or the survivor had an ambivalent relationship with the person who died, or where the current loss triggers grief relating to earlier losses.

We will think about the challenges of working with bereaved people who seek counselling very soon after a bereavement and those who seek bereavement counselling many years after the death of the person.

We will also think about post-traumatic stress disorder and recent moves to include a psychiatric diagnosis of prolonged grief disorder.

Module 3: Thinking about the bereaved client as part of a “system”, whether this be family, culture, etc

We often think of clients as separate, autonomous, individuals, undergoing a personal grieving process. But more often than not, our clients are embedded in cultural and family “systems” that are also impacted by the loss, have expectations and needs of each other, and cope in various ways that can often be at odds with each other. This can often present itself at the beginning, when a client is seeking counselling because someone else, often another family member, feels they are not coping well with their loss. In this module we will explore the impact of the wider “system” on the client and vice versa and how to think about the systemic dimensions of a person's grief when working with an individual client. We will consider how men and women can also grieve differently.

Module 4: Thinking about the “continuing bond” with the person who died, the role of rituals and memorialisation in grief and healing, and the issue of spirituality in bereavement.

In this module we will consider the significance of the idea of the continuing bond with the person who died and how this is different for everyone. We will consider the different ways that the continuing bond can be expressed, normalised and celebrated as a part of the counselling process and outside it.

We will explore a range of tools that can help clients tell the story of and memorialise the person who died. These include memory boxes and letters, stones, working with photos. We will touch on how transpersonal approaches to counselling are relevant in bereavement work.

In this module we will also consider how religious/spiritual beliefs can impact upon attitudes to death (and vice versa). We will consider how the counsellor’s own religious or spiritual beliefs, or lack thereof, may impact upon their work with bereaved clients. We will also consider the debate about the purpose of the continuing bond, and when “holding on” to the person who died may seem not to serve the client well.

Module 5: Bereavement as an opportunity to confront existential concerns, and building practitioner resilience

For some who become bereaved their loss turns everything upside down, including their sense of their identity and purpose, and even their own mortality. This module will explore recognising and starting to engage with our clients’ existential concerns, and participants will consider their own existential concerns around mortality, especially as they may have arisen at times of loss.

This module will also consider the importance of practitioner resilience, how to recognise the signs of “burnout” or empathy fatigue, and think about how we might work ethically and safely, including the role of supervision, the importance of monitoring our readiness for working with people who are bereaved, when to take breaks from the work or from working with particular kinds of loss.

Eligibility to apply

In order to attend this course you need to have completed a minimum of a two year counselling diploma training and currently be in practice working with clients.

If you have been bereaved within the last year please discuss your application with the counselling training coordinator before applying.

The Trainer:

Stephen Callus is a UKCP registered (accredited) psychotherapist, trained in integrative/body psychotherapy at the Chiron Centre in London. He has a private practice in central London. Stephen also teaches on the Foundation Year at The Minster Centre, in London, and supervises students there. He is also one of the co-tutors on the diploma in attachment - based counselling at Wimbledon Guild, and teaches at Birkbeck College and Goldsmiths College. He is a supervisor, and has experience of supervising counsellors who worked in a number of community and hospice-based counselling services. He is currently supervising counsellors at Wimbledon Guild. Stephen worked in a hospice for eight years co-ordinating counselling services in support of bereaved families and friends of patients, and had a caseload of complex bereaved clients.



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About Us

Since 1907, The Wimbledon Guild has provided a range of services to support local people of all ages.

Today our wide-ranging services are available at little or no cost to people who live or work in Merton. We are currently providing more services to more people than at any other time in our history. Many local people experiencing financial, material and emotional hardship are unable to get the support they need anywhere else.