Clergy Care and Well-being

Who is the counselling service for?

The counselling service provides emotional and psychological help for clergy, their spouses/partners, their dependent children, full time lay workers, diocesan employees and recommended Ordinands. In exceptional cases others may be eligible; please contact Sarah Cooke, for details.

What is counselling?

Counselling offers a confidential relationship with a qualified and experienced person (who has no other role in a client's life) through which to explore personal issues and values, increase self-awareness, facilitate personal growth and develop new ways of addressing problem areas of life.

Some of the kinds of issues which people bring to counselling are:

  • anxiety and panic attacks
  • depression
  • bereavement and loss
  • difficulties in relationships, both personal and professional
  • sexuality
  • the pressure and stresses of ministry
  • suicidal thoughts and feelings
  • transitional life events or crises

It is important to stress that you do not need to be in crisis to seek or benefit from counselling. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness, rather it signifies courage and maturity.

The counselling team

The Worcester Diocesan Counselling Service is co-ordinated by Sarah Cooke. In the first instance, she should be contacted and will offer an exploratory consultation to determine whether counselling will be appropriate or whether some other kind of help may be more suitable.

Normally, she would then refer a client to one of a team of counsellors who are geographically spaced around the diocese and who hold a range of expertise between them for work with individuals, couples and families.

Counsellors work on a self-employed basis. They are trained to a minimum of diploma level, are supervised in their work, and hold their own professional indemnity insurance. Every counsellor has an understanding and awareness of the Christian faith, the context in which clergy work and the particular difficulties which can arise from this.

All counsellors subscribe to the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy Code of Ethics and the Adviser subscribes to the ethical code of the British Psychoanalytic Council.

What does counselling cost?

The counselling service is normally able to offer up to 12 sessions. The first six are free; every client discusses with their counsellor whether they can make a contribution towards the second group of sessions.


This is crucial to the effectiveness of the counselling relationship. Client identity is known only to the Adviser and the counsellor to whom they are referred. This respects privacy and establishes trust.

It is only in exceptional circumstances that it may be appropriate to break confidentiality if a client is at risk of serious harm to themselves or another; in such rare circumstances the counsellor would still, if at all possible, discuss this with the client.

Reflective Practice Groups

A Balint-style Reflective Practice Group is offered annually to all licensed priests in the Diocese, where up to 8 clergy meet in a confidential and facilitated setting to present work to one another, with a view to increasing and deepening their understanding of both themselves and the dynamics of the particular piece of work or pastoral situation which is challenging them.

We are now advertising for the next group which will run in 2019 and currently taking applications from clergy who are interested in participating in such a group. Download the link below to find out more about how the group works, the dates and venue for next year and download an application form:

Reflective Practice Group 2019 (PDF)

Reflective Practice Group for Clergy application form (PDF)

Other initiatives which support clergy in a variety of ways are also offered from time to time and will be advertised on this page.


Clergy who are interested in thinking about their work in a reflective confidential space but do not wish to join a group can access individual supervision through the Diocesan Counselling Service. Please contact Sarah Cooke for more details.

Enrich - A Support Group for Gay and Lesbian Clergy in the West Midlands

A group for gay and lesbian clergy in the West Midlands meets about four times a year in Birmingham. If you are interested in attending, please contact Heather McCartney

Single Clergy in the Diocese of Worcester

Following a study day for single clergy in the Dioceses of Worcester and Birmingham, a small group has met to look at how single clergy can be better supported in their work, in a variety of ways.
A number of ideas are currently being taken forward and if you are interested in joining an e-mailing list so that you can keep in touch with events being planned for single clergy (with no automatic obligation to participate in everything that is offered), please let Sarah Cooke know and she will ensure your details are added to the mailing.

Hugh Scriven is the contact for the Single Clergy network, there to offer both informal support and information about the network's activities. Contact Hugh on 0121 249 3431.