Home > Petals Counsellor Training


Petals is the baby loss counselling charity.  We have been delivering specialist counselling support to bereaved parents for over a decade.  Recognising that there is little or no specialist baby loss training for counsellors, Petals, together with Bereavement Training International, has designed a bespoke two-stage training programme for specialist health professionals interested in working with parents following the death of a baby. 

Our expertise and evidence base, make this the leading training course in this field for any counsellor, psychotherapist, or perinatal mental health practitioner working with bereaved parents.

Providing psychological support to parents following the death of a baby or child can be an emotionally charged and challenging aspect of your work; The Petals training programme will enable you to create a safe space for parents to express their feelings of fear, anxiety, guilt, shame and anger, helping them to live alongside their grief and feel more able to cope in the world.

This specialist training programme has been developed by Petals CEO Karen Burgess and Paula Abramson of Bereavement Training International.  A practising counsellor for over 20 years, Karen is the leading expert in the field of baby loss counselling whilst Paula is a psychotherapist with many years of experience providing bereavement support to families and training for professionals.  Karen and Paula deliver the training courses themselves and you can find out more about them below.


Karen has been a practising counsellor since 1998.  Her broad experience as a counsellor within schools, addiction units, smoking cessation services, workplaces and then hospital settings, as well as tutoring counselling trainees, has enabled her to adopt a very personal and unique style of therapy; one that embodies Carl Roger’s core conditions of trust, openness, honesty and empathy within an engaging, dynamic and caring exchange with clients that facilitates the processing of trauma, coaches in grief and fosters personal growth.

Karen has been a leading player in influencing change in the field of baby loss support and in raising awareness of the need for psychological support for bereaved parents.  As the founder of Petals, Karen has not only built a charity that is delivering a free counselling service but has also developed a unique and effective counselling approach that provides a safe space for devastated lives to recover.  A growing evidence base of this work, along with numerous positive client testimonials, informs the training she delivers.

As a leading expert in this field, Karen was a key collaborator on the Life After Loss report on the economic case for investment in psychological support for bereaved couples.  She has also collaborated on a number of research projects looking into the emotional impact of baby loss.

Karen is a member of the Pregnancy and Baby Charities Network, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Baby Loss and the International Stillbirth Alliance (ISA).  She has also appeared on television to talk about the importance of specialist counselling support fo bereaved parents, her appearances include This Morning, BBC News and the Channel 4 documentary, Child of Mine.


Paula is a psychotherapist and training facilitator, specialising in providing bereavement support to families and training for professionals, following the death of a baby or child.  Paula worked for more than ten years in the NHS, providing support to families and professionals.  She was also appointed as bereavement counsellor for the Wandsworth Child Death Overview Panel, the first role of its kind in England.

Since 2008, Paula has designed and delivered training workshops for healthcare professionals whose work includes supporting families when a baby or child dies. Her training covers subjects such as the impact on professionals, breaking bad news, communication skills, theories of grief, memory making, and learning from families.

Recognised as an expert in the area of baby loss, Paula has consulted on projects such as the National Bereavement Care Pathway, Baby Loss Awareness Week, NHS England Child Death Booklet, and the Pan London Neonatal Complex and Palliative Care Nurse role. She has also been a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Baby Loss since its inception in 2016. Paula is an Ambassador for Abigail’s Footsteps, a baby loss charity, providing support to families and professionals, and a trustee for First Touch, the charity supporting the neonatal unit at St. George’s hospital.


” Thank you all so much for the well-run workshop. I appreciated your sensitive and knowledgeable responses to all our questions and comments. I feel more confident to work with parents going through this traumatic experience, and look forward to building my awareness on this subject.”

“Thank you very much for this training.  I have done some other training on the subject but this was head and shoulders above it because it was live and there were opportunities for reflection and discussion. I personally find this incredibly valuable. I also appreciated the significant knowledge and experience of the facilitators.”

“I would like to say thank you so much for the training day, I feel I came away from the session with my mind spinning with ideas. Ideas that will make me a better counsellor. It was a privilege to be part of the group and to gain so much information on a topic that I am so passionate about.”