Dr John Wilson is a counsellor, teacher, author and researcher. Now in semi-retirement, he is Visiting Fellow of York St John University and Director of the Bereavement Service in York St John University Counselling and Mental Health Centre.
He was a primary school teacher for 15 years alongside his role as Senior Lecturer in Education at Leeds Metropolitan University until 1997, when he qualified as a counsellor.
John has a long career in bereavement counselling, including almost 20 years working in the bereavement support service at St Catherine’s Hospice in Scarborough where he trained many cohorts of volunteers in the craft of bereavement counselling.
During this time he began to question the overwhelmingly positive outcomes and client feedback that the service achieved, wondering if bereaved clients would quite naturally have found their grief eased over time if they had not received counselling. He began to wonder how we might know if counselling was effective for bereaved clients and whether clients would have ‘got better’ anyway without therapeutic intervention.
His research led to him designing an approach to the counselling assessment process which screens out those clients who might otherwise receive counselling they do not need.
John’s research eventually led to his PhD study starting in 2011 which looked at two questions: “What actually happens in bereavement counselling sessions, and how can we chart positive changes resulting from that counselling?
His first book, Supporting People through Loss and Grief, was published by Jessica Kingsley in 2013. His second book, The Plain Guide to Grief, was published in 2020.