What is the difference between counselling and grief support groups?

While both of these options aim to provide assistance and solace to those grieving, they are distinctly different in their approaches and benefits.

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For some, dealing with the loss of a loved one can be a challenging and emotional experience. During this time, individuals may choose to seek help from outside agencies or support services to cope with their grief. 

Two common forms of support that people can turn to are counselling and grief support groups. While both of these options aim to provide assistance and solace to those grieving, they are distinctly different in their approaches and benefits.

Understanding counselling

Counselling is a personalised approach to healing and consists of a one-on-one therapeutic relationship between an individual and a trained mental health professional. This is often a counsellor or therapist who specialises in bereavement

During counselling sessions, individuals can openly discuss their feelings, thoughts and experiences related to grief in a confidential and supportive environment. The counsellor provides guidance, validation and coping strategies tailored to the individual’s unique needs and circumstances.

Counselling can be beneficial for those who prefer a highly individualised approach and may have specific issues or traumas related to their grief that they wish to address in a private setting. It allows individuals an in-depth exploration of their emotions and to receive professional guidance for managing their grief.

The role of grief support groups

On the other hand, grief support groups offer strength in numbers and a communal approach to coping with loss. These groups often involve individuals who have experienced similar losses and gather regularly to share their stories, emotions and coping strategies. Usually led by a facilitator (often a person who has themselves suffered a personal loss rather than a trained counsellor or other mental health professional) grief support groups create a safe space where participants can connect, empathise and provide mutual support to one another.

Grief support groups could be particularly valuable for those who find solace in knowing that they are not alone in their grief journey. Sharing experiences with others who have walked a similar path can provide a sense of belonging and understanding that is hard to find elsewhere. These groups offer a support network that can be essential in the healing process.

Counselling or grief support groups: Which is right for you?

If you’ve experienced grief in any form, and are looking for some support, you may be wondering which option is right for you. 

Individual vs group dynamics

One of the fundamental differences between counselling and grief support groups is the individual versus group dynamics. Counselling focuses on one-on-one sessions, allowing individuals to delve deeply into their personal grief experiences with the undivided attention of a trained professional. By contrast, grief support groups emphasise the power of shared experiences and collective healing within a supportive community.

Privacy vs community 

Counselling offers a high level of privacy and confidentiality, which can be reassuring for those who wish to keep their grief journey private. By contrast, grief support groups involve sharing one’s emotions and experiences with a group of people (which can be both comforting and challenging for individuals, depending on their comfort level) with openness and vulnerability.

Personalised strategies vs shared wisdom 

Counselling provides highly personalised coping strategies and emotional support tailored to the individual’s specific needs. This can be especially beneficial for individuals dealing with complex grief or trauma. Grief support groups, however, offer shared wisdom and coping techniques based on the collective experiences of the group members, which can provide a sense of solidarity and shared understanding.

Practical ways to help alleviate grief 

Grief and loss have the potential to cause significant stress for yourself or a loved one, and that’s when Freeman Brothers can help guide you to the people who can help. The Good Grief Trust, for example, is a national charity who can help you to find the right support in your area. 

Funeral planning

Whilst planning a funeral can be an important part of the grieving process, it also has the potential to be quite upsetting, and can add an extra burden to an already troubling time. 

At Freeman Brothers, we take time to guide you through the options available and our experienced arrangers will talk you through each step so you can be reassured that everything is in hand and nothing will be forgotten.

Discussing your or a loved one’s preferences for the funeral in advance can sometimes help to alleviate some of the stress after a death, giving those arranging your funeral the confidence that they are fulfilling your wishes whilst allowing loved ones to pay their respects and provide closure, too.

Pre-paid funeral plans

One option is to consider a pre-paid funeral plan. Such plans allow you to make arrangements and pay for your own or someone else’s funeral in advance.

All the information about Freeman Brothers Prepaid Funeral Plans can be found on our website or you can request a brochure pack by contacting your chosen branch by phone or email. 

Grief support with Freeman Brothers

At Freeman Brothers, we understand how difficult the funeral planning process can be after the loss of a loved one. If you would like support in opening up the conversation regarding funeral wishes with your loved ones, we are happy to help. 

We offer signposts to bereavement advice, funeral organisation support and pre-paid funeral plans depending on your unique needs. Get in touch with us to find out more about how we can help you and your family today.

Freeman Brothers is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority for the sale of prepaid funeral plans. FCA Registered Number 962064.


Written by Becky Hughes

Community Co-Ordinator

January 24, 2024

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