We’re calling for people with dementia and their carers to be offered counselling support to help improve their wellbeing and adapt to life with dementia.

Jeremy Bacon, our Third Sector Lead, said action was required to ensure access to a choice of talking therapies for people with dementia to explore their emotions, issues of identity and to make plans for the future.

It comes as new a new film – titled Counselling People With Dementia: An Unmet Need highlights the value of counselling for people living with dementia, and for their carers.

Developed by Dr Gill Mathews and colleagues at the Edinburgh Centre for Research on the Experience of Dementia (ECRED), University of Edinburgh, the video reports on the ECRED research team’s findings on the issue.

Lived experience

It features people with lived experience of dementia and counsellors who were involved in the project. Our member Maorr Zadok took part in the intervention and provided 12 weeks of counselling for an 80 year old client.

Maorr said: “We explored issues for him surrounding death, wishes for death, grief and mourning of various people in his life, issues around independence and agency. We focused on finding peace, whatever that would mean for him.

“By the end of the sessions the client felt comfortable in expressing himself and finding acceptance.”

There are around 900,000 people in the UK currently living with dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Society. And this figure is expected to rise to nearly 1.6m people in the next two decades.

Counselling can help people with dementia and their carers to make sense of their experience, address feelings of grief and loss and aid the exploration of new opportunities to find new meaning in their lives.

Counselling support

The research team hope the video will persuade people that counselling should be offered to people with dementia, particularly in the early stages of a diagnosis.

Currently, emotional support is mostly offered to carers of people with dementia whilst the emotional needs of those living with the condition are often overlooked.

Maorr said: “There isn't necessarily the spaces and supports for people with dementia to talk about what’s happening for them - this feeling of potential loss of identity, loss of agency, loss of memory and history to themselves.

“I think the project goes a long way to showing the counsellor’s experiences of working with people with dementia, how powerful and significant it can be.”

It’s hoped the film will help to raise awareness and support fundraising for further research on the topic.

Access to therapy

Jeremy welcomed the research and the inclusion of the voices of people living with dementia in the new video.

“ECRED’s research is adding to the growing weight of evidence that having a dementia should not be a barrier to accessing psychological therapies and hearing people living with dementia speak about the value of counselling will encourage others to seek valuable psychological support,” Jeremy said

Watch ECRED’s film Counselling People With Dementia: An Unmet Need.

Support our work

If you’d like to strengthen the argument for people with dementia and their carers to be offered counselling please support our work and raise this with your local MP. You can do this in a number of ways, including writing directly to them.

Please read our influencing guide for further information and useful tips on engaging with your local representatives.