Counselling People with Dementia

The Counselling People with Dementia (CouPLeD) project involves a phased programme of exploration into the use of counselling to meet the unmet emotional needs of people living with dementia. Our vision is for people with lived experience of dementia to have easy and timely access to counselling to support their mental health as and when they need it.

The CouPLeD project began in 2019. The first stage included a systematic literature review and interviews with people living with dementia, carers and therapists. Results confirmed a gap in emotional support and the need for tailored, community-based, professional counselling. People living with dementia asked for a safe personal space to share their emotional needs with a trained counsellor.

I sat in the house looking at four walls thinking my life had ended. There’s nothing worth living for ... I had to retire from my work. I lost my driving licence, and there just seemed to be nothing at all out there for me personally to keep me going, and I think at that time counselling would have been ideal because it would have helped me to accept what was happening and ease the pressure and the burden as well, because I think I was going into a really dark place

Between September 2021 and January 2023, a Phase 2 feasibility study (UKRI Healthy Ageing Catalyst Award) was undertaken to test counsellor training and a counselling intervention. Market research was also carried out and a film created of key findings (see link below). We learned that counselling supports the re-emergence of a person’s experience of self as a meaningful adult and gives renewed purpose. The need for specific counsellor training was emphasised along with frequent supervision to promote and sustain counsellor confidence. People living with dementia and informal carers talked about the benefits of local, flexible counselling across the dementia timeline, delivered through accessible, community venues. The next step is to translate findings into practice by piloting the approach in local neighbourhoods. The aim to set up a social enterprise and work with end users to co-produce a training package and gather sufficient evidence to upscale the initiative to other areas.

Watch a video from the project



Study title: Counselling People with Dementia: a feasibility study investigating the potential for accessible therapy delivered through a social enterprise model