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Counselling Service

Counselling Service

Counselling Service during COVID-19

In order to continue to support our clients during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have introduced a telephone counselling service as well as a video conferencing counselling service.  Your initial assessment will take place via telephone at which point you can either opt to have phone counselling, video call counselling or face to face counselling.

If you would like to make a self-referral for counselling please email  ndht.cancercarecounselling@nhs.net for more information

Our service

The North Devon Cancer Care Counselling Service is based in the Over and Above Fern Centre on the main site of NDDH. We operate Mondays to Fridays and are able to provide some early and late session availability for people who need to fit their support around their working hours.


Our team

Jessica French – Lead Cancer Care Counsellor- full time

jess french

My name is Jess my background is in charity work, private practice and project coordinating specialist child bereavement and family systems support.

In 2016 I had the enormous privilege of being able to set up the North Devon Cancer Care Counselling Service in October 2016. Up until this point there had been a real deficit in specialist psychological support for cancer patients, their partners and children in our beautiful North Devon area. The service was initially pump primed by Macmillan to support a new initiative called the recovery Package, which looks at how we can respond to cancer treatment holistically, taking into account the differing and specific needs of cancer patients and ensuring an improved quality of life for people living with and beyond cancer.

This initiative really resonated with me because I feel it is so vital to view each person as an individual with specific and unique needs.

Macmillan still continues to provide funding support to our service alongside the support of Over and Above and NDDH. Within my role as service Lead I am responsible for the clinical assessments of all referrals into the service, and for triaging each referral accordingly. I provide 1-1 counselling for people living with, and beyond, cancer and their partners but I mostly work with children and young people now.

I also provide 1-1 clinical supervision for the members of the counselling team, and group supervision for the Cancer Nurse and Trainee Assistant Practitioner teams within Cancer Services at North Devon District Hospital.

I manage our fabulous student counsellor placement programme, working with local stakeholder academic establishments, which provides local students with opportunities to join our team and we are always grateful to have their support.

I am responsible for service development, researching and responding to patient needs and preferences, setting service objectives and key performance indicators via annual reports, developing service strategies and the monitoring of patient satisfaction.

I also oversee and facilitate the delivery of the fantastic six week HOPE course (helping overcome problems effectively.

This job is especially dear to my heart as I have had the immense pleasure of watching this service grow to meet more and more needs each year but it has also meant that my path has crossed with so many incredible inspiring people and every day is a school day because of that.

In my spare time you will find me growing organic fruits and vegetables in our two allotments, sewing, swimming in the sea and making all kinds of weird and wonderful remedies from our herb garden. I especially enjoy time spent with my loved ones and animals and exploring the magical beauty of North Devon in all seasons.

Linda Banting – Cancer Care Counsellor – part time

My name is Linda and I am very excited to have joined the wonderful team at the Fern Centre as a Cancer Care Counsellor.

There is so much on offer at the centre and everyone is amazing and bring as much as is possible together to provide an encompassing and holistic service. I feel very lucky to be here. 

Paul Butler – ChemoHero Cancer Care Counsellor – Part time

The Cancer Care Counselling service have teamed up with the fabulous local charity ChemoHero, who have kindly funded an additional counsellor for the North Devon Cancer Care Counselling Service.

The Counselling service are over the moon to welcome Paul Butler to the team. Paul will be working three days a week Wednesday-Friday for the next 12 months

My name is Paul and I am delighted to have the opportunity to join the team at the Fern Centre as a ChemoHero Cancer Care Counsellor.  It has been wonderful  having the opportunity to meet Rob and the rest of the ChemoHero team. I look forward to settling in and working more closely with clients.

What we offer

Within our service we offer a range of supportive therapeutic interventions and if we both feel that we could support you or your partner or child we will invite you for and initial assessment appointment. In this appointment we will discuss your needs and the most appropriate types of support we can offer.

Based on your assessment we may offer you the following:

One to one counselling and psychotherapy sessions

Initially we offer six counselling and psychotherapy sessions with the flexibility to extend the number of sessions offered if both you and your counsellor agree this would be of benefit.

Sessions will take place at the Over and Above Fern Centre in one of two of our purpose built therapy rooms. All our Counsellors and Psychotherapists are trained in integrative counselling; this approach means that we combine different elements of many counselling modules to create a bespoke way of working that is specific to and inclusive of your individual needs.

All our sessions are confidential; our service is not part of the main hospitals note keeping system for this reason and all our Counsellors and Psychotherapists work in accordance with the ethical guidelines of either the BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) or the NCS (National Counselling Society).

Support groups:

  • Generic Cancer Patient Support Group – this is for anybody who has been diagnosed with cancer and who is living with and beyond cancer
  • Carers Support group – this is a group for anybody who is providing care and support to a loved one with cancer
  • Breast Ladies Support Group and Mindfulness- this is for breast cancer patients who are living with and beyond cancer

HOPE programme

HOPE stands for ‘help overcoming problems effectively’. During this 6 week program you will explore topics such as, stress and anxiety, fear of reoccurrence, healthy lifestyle, body image and intimacy, moving on with hope. You will also get the opportunity to explore coping strategies such as mindfulness, pacing diaries and achievable goal setting in a fun, relaxed and supportive environment. Our HOPE groups are a great opportunity to meet other cancer patients, form new bonds and friendships and learn new ways of helping yourself to move forwards. Many of our HOPE groups still continue to meet up for a cup of tea and cake long after the six week course has ended.

Getting in touch

You are more than welcome to get in touch for advice or if you have any questions. You can contact us on 01271334472 or email us at ndht.cancercarecounselling@nhs.net


Referrals to the service can be made through your clinical team providing you have given consent for this (including your Clinical Nurse Specialist), your GP or another relevant practitioner.

You are also able to make a self-referral into our service and you can do this over the phone or by completing a referral form that can be found in The Fern Centre or on 01271 311 855.

Alternatively you can post your referral form to The Fern Centre, North Devon District Hospital, Raleigh Park, Barnstaple, Devon, EX31 4JB. Or email it to ndht.cancercarecounselling@nhs.net

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