Choosing the right pet bereavement counsellor
During a period of bereavement most pet carers feel exceptionally isolated, vulnerable and for some, ashamed – ashamed because they fear being ridiculed for grieving their loss of an animal. When the right support is given, pet carers do tend to cope better with the physical and emotional turmoil experienced. The efficacy of pet bereavement counselling is very difficult to measure given the fact that the amount of time someone requires to have the support will vary from pet carer to pet carer and on completion they seldom give their counsellor feedback.
If you choose the right pet bereavement counsellor it may be that 1 x 1 hour session is sufficient for you to move forward in the grieving process, others may require 6 or more x 1 hour sessions, and very occasionally someone will require ongoing support for many months.
Pet bereavement counsellors are widely available however their knowledge and experience differs greatly, therefore is can be challenging to choose the right one and one that you are most comfortable talking too.
The pet carer needs to want to find a way to help ease the pain. There is no point seeking help from a counsellor if you are not ready to help yourself. There is only so much a pet bereavement counsellor can do, but they can successfully help those who want to help themselves. Keep your expectations real – a pet bereavement counsellor is not a fairy godmother – much as they want to take your pain away, there is a limit to what can be done to help if the client isn’t prepared to help themselves.
You have to be comfortable talking to the right counsellor when you are vulnerable, feeling exposed, and someone who you trust to talk openly about your emotions when you are your lowest ebb in life. Living with Pet Bereavement has access to the best pet bereavement counsellors in the world and we can refer you to someone we feel will be best suited to you.
How long after your companion has died should you seek counselling? - The best time for the majority of pet carers is 2 or 3 weeks after their pet has died.
Ensure that the counsellor has the appropriate experience and knowledge - Look at their website (most reputable pet bereavement counsellors will have a website), how much experience does the counsellor actually have both professionally and personally. Those most experienced in pet bereavement tend to work full time as counsellors or as pet undertakers.
What are your expectations? – Keep your expectations realistic. There is no quick fix. Pet Bereavement Counsellors cannot wave a magic wand and make everything better, however they will support you in a non-judgemental way throughout the duration of your bereavement.
Do they have experience of their own loss and if so what type of companion animal did they have? - The personal experience a pet bereavement counsellor has will ensure they can empathise with you.
What qualifications do they have in pet bereavement counselling? - Most should have the minimum of a Diploma from a reputable learning centre coupled with a proven track record of supporting people through bereavement. Check the credentials of the learning centre and who certifies their work.
What information are you required to provide before speaking to a pet bereavement counsellor? - An experienced and qualified pet bereavement counsellor should only require to have your pets name and a brief description of the reason for your session prior to speaking to you - under the data protection law they will not want to retain unnecessary details.
What type of service/s do they offer? - Can you contact your counsellor out of hours, do they provide an email service, telephone consultations, 1 to 1 consultations (and where will that be), and/or zoom. - Most reputable pet bereavement counsellors will offer their clients a number of options for support. Pet Bereavement counsellors should have an in depth knowledge of pet crematoriums and cemeteries
Are you guaranteed to speak to the same counsellor should you need more than 1 session? - This is vitally important in order that you do not end up having to repeat your story to a new counsellor every time you get in contact.
How much do they charge? - If people are giving up their time to offer a listening service then they are entitled to be paid for their time. Prices vary from counsellor to counsellor, but most charge in the region of £30-£40 regardless of their experience, knowledge or qualifications. Living with Pet Bereavement does not charge as this service was founded by Dawn Murray to ensure that the best pet bereavement counsellors were available to everyone regardless of their financial situation.
How to become as pet bereavement counsellor
The majority of pet owners become bereavement counsellors as a result of experiencing the loss of their own companion. There are many pet bereavement courses currently available, however they will vary in the subjects they cover.
Living With Pet Bereavement offers two Diplomas for those wishing to become a pet bereavement counsellor. Our courses, written by one of the most experienced pet bereavement counsellors in the UK – Dawn Murray, covers all aspects of pet bereavement that you are likely to encounter when you become a counsellor.
Her in-depth knowledge and experience of working as a Pet Undertaker, is second to none in the UK. Dawn Murray is the senior tutor and works with our students throughout the Diploma, and offering back-up support for those who start up their own counselling business. Students throughout the world are currently studying with Living with Pet Bereavement and cannot speak highly enough of our outstanding Diplomas.
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Founder of Living with Pet Bereavement, Dawn Murray, speaks with award winning podcaster, Anna Web, about Pet Bereavement