The Grief Centre | Loss and Grief Support The Grief Centre

 The Grief Centre office is closed from 12pm Friday 22 December, reopening Monday 08 Jan. 

New Zealand Phone: 0800 331 333

Our counsellors

Our expert team are here to help you

We have a wonderful team of highly qualified and compassionate grief counsellors onboard at the Grief Centre.

Our counsellors are listed below with the locations where they offer counselling. 

All of our counsellors also provide their therapy online.

Please call us on 0800 331 333 or email to enquire.

Kaimahi kaitohutohu
Our counsellors

Aida Dehkhoda

North Shore, Auckland

About Aida

Aida was born in Iran and resided there until she relocated to New Zealand in 2014 to pursue her doctoral journey in Psychology. During her rehabilitation counselling training for her Master’s in Iran, she supported patients with terminal illnesses and their families.

Her particular interest still lies in helping people dealing with chronic and life-threatening illness and their families, and those experiencing loss and grief and existential distress. She also helps people with various psychological and emotional suffering, including anxiety, depression, trauma and abuse, relationship challenges, and general personal growth and adjustment issues.

She takes a holistic, person-centred, existential, and eclectic approach to counselling. Being a migrant herself, she is sensitive to cultural differences and their importance in the mind's journey to healing and has worked with people from various backgrounds and cultures.

She is fluent in Farsi/Persian and English.

Amy Benjamin

 Birkenhead, Auckland

About Amy

Amy has a wide range of experience working with youth and adults and supports any issues that are impacting mental health.

She understands that counselling can sometimes be a hopeful, yet intimidating process and she provides a warm, empathetic, and non-judgmental environment to make this process easier. She tailors each session to the needs of each individual client and recognises that the quality of the therapeutic relationship is one of the most important aspects of successful counselling.

Outside of work, Amy enjoys adventures with family and friends including visiting new places, spending sunny days at the beach or in the forest and cozy nights by the fire watching movies. 

Averill Waters

Birkenhead, Auckland

About Averill

Averill has held positions in a range of organisations, including schools, universities, and many community organisations. She has been Chair of Highbury House, a National Executive Member of Playcentre and was, until recently, the secretary of the Auckland Branch of New Zealand Association of Counsellors (NZAC). 

Averill has presented at a range of conferences and has published several papers on counselling practice and cross-cultural perspectives. She places a high value on respect, compassion, and social justice - values that underpin her work.

“The kato (woven bag) represents my hope for our conversations – that they will weave together to shape something that is useful and productive, creating a stronger story of your preferred identity. The strands that form the bag, represent contributions that each of us brings to the conversation helping to enhance our partnership and practice.”

Barbara Wright

South Auckland

About Barbara

Barbara originally trained as a Therapy Radiographer in Oxford before working in various hospitals in the UK and New Zealand for 15 years, treating cancer patients. Since qualifying as a Counsellor in 2008, Barbara has specialised in loss and grief, with counselling roles in two Auckland hospices and at the Office of the Chief Coroner, before joining the Grief Centre in 2019. Barbara has also worked for the University of Auckland Medical School on a major study into sudden death of infants, and has worked as a tutor training new counselling students. Barbara also took the time to work with  children experiencing loss and trained as a ‘Seasons for Growth’ coordinator and companion for a variety of schools in South Auckland.

Everyone experiences grief and loss at some time, whether from the loss of someone close to them, or resulting from a sudden change or event which significantly impacts their lives. Barbara’s approach to counselling is eclectic therapy which helps her clients navigate their grief journey and regain perspective, such as Rogerian or Person Centred Counselling, Gestalt Counselling and Solution Focussed Counselling. Barbara believes that everyone’s journey through the grief process is individual to them, with no right or wrong way to grieve. She tries to walk beside them until they can view their own destination with the acknowledgment of the journey they have travelled. Support from whānau and friends is important, although some people find it easier to open up to an impartial counsellor who will listen without judgement.Her particular areas of interest are loss and grief; bereavement including bereavement by suicide and living with cancer or chronic health; couples counselling; building self-confidence, assertiveness and self-compassion; working with individuals or couples experiencing sexual problems, including the impact of cancer on intimate relationships; anger management; career counselling; parenting; trauma; health and wellness; workplace stress, burnout and conflict resolution.

Christine Murphy

Te Atatu South, Auckland

About Christine

Born and raised in Switzerland, Christine has lived in Aotearoa for over 25 years. After working as a retail book seller for many years, she was ready to embrace a career change. Since 2006, Christine has offered counselling in various settings such as hospices, high schools as well as private practice. Intermittently she has also worked as volunteers’ coordinator and trainer, operations manager, and spiritual care coordinator. Now she works exclusively in private practice.

Christine’s counselling style is warm, affirming, and collaborative and she offers a calm and relaxed environment to work in. To suit the individual needs of each client, Christine uses an eclectic mix of therapeutic modalities and mindfulness-based approaches. Underpinning Christine’s work is an attitude of acceptance, compassion and respect towards all people and the issues they bring to her.

Loss and grief is a personal journey that affects us all in different ways and sometimes, in ways we do not expect. Being able to tell our story in a safe environment can help us accept our new way of being and gain an understanding of the way we feel. Diane recognises that each person’s story is different and that we are affected by grief in different ways. She honours that with compassion, empathy, and respect. She also understands the importance of working within each person’s culture and belief system. 

Coralie Gibson

Birkenhead, Auckland

About Coralie

Coralie is a registered counsellor with NZAC and holds a post-graduate diploma in narrative counselling. Coralie takes a person-centred and strength-focused approach. She brings 30+ years of experience working in the health care profession being a nurse and a midwife. She enjoys working alongside all people and considers it a privilege to journey with people through their loss and grief.

Coralie provides clinical supervision for professionals and offers a supportive and nourishing experience so you can continue to work safely, ethically and look after yourself.

Dave Perryman

Lynfield, Remuera, Auckland

About Dave

Dave has experience working with all ages and enjoys working with Māori, Pasifika and New Zealand communities. He has recently graduated with a Bachelor of Counselling degree and is a provisional member of the New Zealand Association of Counsellors (NZAC).

Dave is trained in narrative and CBT therapies and takes a strengths-based and person-centred approach to the counselling experience. He has a real passion for helping people through their journey of loss and grief and loves to incorporate his interest in music and art when working with clients.

He has been married for 12 years to Winnie who is also a counsellor, and they have a teenage son. Located in central/west Auckland, in his downtime, Dave likes to spend time with family, camping and playing music.

Debbie Penlington


About Debbie

For many years Debbie has enjoyed working with people – as a nurse, a career counsellor, a counsellor, and a supervisor. She is passionate about the positive difference counselling can make in peoples’ lives. She uses a non-judgmental, warm, empathetic, accepting approach to create a relationship of trust with clients.

Her particular areas of interest are loss and grief; bereavement including bereavement by suicide and living with cancer or chronic health; couples counselling; building self-confidence, assertiveness and self-compassion; working with individuals or couples experiencing sexual problems, including the impact of cancer on intimate relationships; anger management; career counselling; parenting; trauma; health and wellness; workplace stress, burnout and conflict resolution.

Diane Collins


About Diane

Diane has 16 years’ experience as a counsellor specialising in loss and grief, and trauma. She is a person-centred counsellor and integrates other modalities such as art and sand tray to suit each client’s needs. She also works as a counsellor in Pukekohe, working with clients of all ages and ethnicities, and works with Victim Support there.

Loss and grief is a personal journey that affects us all in different ways and sometimes, in ways we do not expect. Being able to tell our story in a safe environment can help us accept our new way of being and gain an understanding of the way we feel. Diane recognises that each person’s story is different and that we are affected by grief in different ways. She honours that with compassion, empathy, and respect. She also understands the importance of working within each person’s culture and belief system. 

Diane Giles


About Diane

Diane worked for eight years as a Lifeline counsellor, and three years with the Antara Natural Health Centre, as well as being in private practice. Diane has a passion for holding a safe space to facilitate greater insights into thoughts, behaviours and emotions which cause suffering. She is an experienced loss and grief counsellor.

Diane has seven children and has been a foster parent for many years. She has also gone through the Russian adoption process. She has been a passionate teacher of the Montessori Method for many years and has her own centre supporting both children and parents. 

Emma Mackie-Watts 

Devonport, Auckland

About Emma

Born and raised in the North of England, Emma has lived in New Zealand for 17 years and came to counselling from a varied background in education, journalism, and business. She works with adults of all ages. Emma works from rooms in Devonport and online.

Emma welcomes people who have experienced loss, not only through bereavement, but through trauma and abuse; relationship breakup; moving far from home; redundancy; being estranged from family and friends; miscarriage; and fertility treatment. She also has an interest in working with people who suffered a bereavement earlier in their lives, which causes them pain or suffering now.

Emma is easy to get to know. Her warm, compassionate nature and genuine care for others, helps build relationships with clients quickly. While she is passionate about empowering her clients to find answers for themselves, she believes that by walking alongside people through their difficulties, people might find a way to make meaning from their loss, and even grow from it.

Elaine Jacobsen

Central, East Auckland


Elaine has over 14 years’ counselling experience and works with a diverse range of clients, from all walks of life including adults, teens, and children. She has experience working with culturally diverse clients including Pacifica, Māori and Asian and welcomes all cultures, genders, orientations, and backgrounds. Her person-centred approach walking alongside her clients on their journey. Her special interest areas are adoption, grief and loss, suicide, and youth mental health. She has been a Victim Support Bereavement by Suicide worker as well as a Seasons for Grief and Loss Facilitator.

Elaine’s counselling style is to offer a warm, safe, and relaxed space for clients to be in.  Her person-centred approach sits with narrative therapy, art and sand tray and she adjusts her approach to the needs of the client. Elaine is a wife, stepparent, step-grandparent and has a fur baby called Blue.ent...

Eunice Choi


About Eunice

Eunice has a passion for supporting people’s efforts to overcome life challenges through professional and collaborative counselling practice. She works with adults dealing with issues around anxiety, depression, cultural issues, loss and grief and trauma. As an Asian migrant herself, Eunice particularly wants to help migrants to settle and thrive with resilience and hope in New Zealand.

She has special interest in all areas of grief and trauma caused by losses. Her counselling approach is integrated based on person-centred and narrative therapy. She offers counselling in Korean and English.

Graham Southwell

Titirangi, Auckland

About Graham

Graham is a registered psychotherapist with a master’s degree in psychotherapy from AUT University in Auckland. His early experience was at Auckland Sexual Health but for the last 10 years he has been focusing on supporting clients from hospice. Working with individuals and/or families, he brings a caring and empathic approach to those who are experiencing loss and grief through bereavement. 

The grief associated with end of life can be devastating; it may lead one to question what life is all about and to re-evaluate one’s values and core beliefs. The opportunity to explore this grief in a warm, safe, non-judgmental environment is often the first step towards healing and rebuilding one’s life.

Jacqui Ivankovich

Remuera, Auckland

About Jacqui

Jacqui has eight years of experience working with rangatahi, rainbow communities and whānau. She studied a Diploma of Counselling and is a Member of the New Zealand Association of Counsellors (MNZAC).

Jacqui brings a warmth, realness, and deeply empathetic energy to her practice. She takes a holistic, person-centred, strengths-based approach when working with people and holds a person's knowledge of themselves at the forefront of their therapeutic relationship.

 She is the mother of one teenage daughter and lives on the North Shore of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, where she enjoys spending time with friends/whānau, immersing herself in nature and enjoying coffee at some of her local cafes.

Jacqueline Pritchard

Warkworth, Auckland

About Jacqueline

Jacqui’s counselling approach is integrative, flexible, and diverse and each person is treated as the unique individual that they are. Her practice is underpinned by an empathic and non-judgmental approach as she works alongside individuals in a gentle and caring manner.

Jacqui is dedicated to working with people in achieving their goals, making sense of their life experiences and rewriting their life stories into something that has meaning and value. Jacqui works with a diverse range of clients, from all walks of life, including adults (any age), adolescents, new parents (postnatal distress), and immigrants. She has extensive experience in online counselling, digital mental health, working with young people, suicide, and bereavement and loss counselling.

Jan Lee

Glenfield, Auckland

About Jan

Jan counts it as a privilege to walk alongside people as they work to resolve current issues in their lives, and to achieve greater personal strength and wellbeing. She has a holistic understanding of personality, including a spiritual dimension in all of us that continually urges us towards awareness, creativity, honesty, self-responsibility, caring, interdependence and joy of life.

She follows a person-centred approach, respecting a person’s own values and directions. She draws on a range of talking therapies (cognitive behavioural therapy and narrative therapy), dream work, and creative therapies (interactive drawing and sand tray), to fit with needs and preferences.

Jennifer O’Flynn

Birkenhead, Auckland

About Jennifer

Jennifer believes counselling is a balance between emotional and mental processing coupled with exploring and developing strategies that will help meet goals. Issues she regularly works with include anxiety, depression, relationships, neurodiversity and grief.

Methods of therapy she integrates include CBT, ACT, dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), and solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT).

Her practice is informed by a range of people from different cultures, backgrounds, ages, and stages of life, which has come from working in school settings and churches over many years. Alongside her private practice, she also facilitates crisis management counselling for groups in employment spaces.

Johann van den Berg

Birkenhead, Auckland

About Johann

Johann is a professional supervisor and counsellor in private practice on the North Shore. He also does some teaching and examining at tertiary level in counselling. Johann migrated from Africa to New Zealand in 2001. He has worked at tertiary level as a counsellor, having completed post graduate studies at the University of Auckland as a mature student.

Johann continues to enjoy the journey alongside students in their growth as practitioners, as well as the challenges and complexities faced by experienced practitioners. He has a keen interest in loss and grief, cultural difference, migration, and marginalisation in its various forms, and assisting clients in reaching their full potential. Passionate about the arts, Johann lives on the North Shore with his partner and energetic canine companion.

Julia Sheikh

St Johns, Auckland

About Julia

Julia is a fully registered counsellor with expertise in trauma and culturally informed mental health care. She has extensive experience working with clients and families from refugee backgrounds in the refugee resettlement, mental health, youth counselling, family violence, social service, employment, and corrections sectors.

She is fully engaged and networked with diverse refugee communities and the refugee resettlement sector in a personal, voluntary, and professional capacity. She was born in Pakistan and arrived as an asylum seeker with her family at age 10. She has three teenage and adult children.

Julia has a strong background in crisis intervention, providing clinical support to the Christchurch Mosque attack victims. She has also worked with Shakti, the Fatima Foundation, the Salvation Army, and NZ Police ethnic liaison officers to ensure a place of safety for women and children from refugee backgrounds in at-risk situations.

She is on the New Zealand Refugee Advisory Panel, and a member and co-chair of the International Refugee Advisory Panel working with UNHCR – the United Nations Refugee Agency on matters of meaningful refugee representation at a global level to advocate for the refugee voice.

Julie Blakelock-Smith

Te Atatu, Auckland

About Julie

Julie has been practicing for more than 30 years in Central, South and West Auckland. Her style of counselling is eclectic, having trained in a variety of therapeutic approaches including person-centred, narrative, NLP, strengths-based, CBT, Gestalt and mind-body. She has a special interest in holistic therapies that evoke mindfulness, spirituality, and the integration of mind-body-spirit in healthcare.

Outside of work, she enjoys spending time in nature, music and the aroma and taste of great coffee! She has two daughters and eight delightful grandchildren, all who currently live in Auckland.

Karen Lupe


About Karen

Karen completed her training in counselling and psychotherapy with the Psychosynthesis Institute. She works empathically across a spectrum of issues, including loss and grief, bereavement, loss of a significant relationship e.g divorce, injury-related loss, trauma, depression, anxiety, existential distress relating to one's spirituality and cultural issues.

Karen is trained in Jungian dream work. Her focus is on creating a safe, warm counselling space to work collaboratively with clients on their own unique healing journeys towards health, fulfilment and wellbeing. 

Lea Orpana

Palmerston North

About Lea

Lea was born and raised in Finland.  After migrating to Australia, she had career change from Nursing to Counselling.  She moved to New Zealand years later where she did further counselling studies and registered with New Zealand Counselling Association.  

Lea has worked with children and adults from all walks of life dealing with wide range of issues since 1998 in variety of setting with variety of cultural backgrounds including Immigrants and Refugees. 

She also has worked in Malawi, training and counselling people groups and as a result, the number of counselling centres and support groups started operating in villages.

Lea’s significant losses in her life has given her the first-hand experience in understanding the challenging grief journey.  She has a passion to walk alongside of person experiencing loss and to help to find healing and adjusting to new life.    

She brings a caring and empathic approach to those who are experiencing grief over their losses, in a safe and non-judgemental environment.            

Lea is a person-centred counsellor, using CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), IDT (Interactive Drawing Therapy) and Solution Focused models.

Matthew Flynn

Birkenhead, Remuera,
Auckland, Online

About Matthew

Matthew comes to counselling from a wide and varied background in law, community involvement and working with young people.

He has travelled extensively and brings to counselling a keen interest in the commonality of issues people of all ages and backgrounds experience though out their lives. By listening, talking, and sharing their experiences, clients can receive help and support to work towards regaining their lives after experiencing loss and grief.

Megan Hutchings

Papakura, Auckland

About Megan

Megan has worked with a variety of clients throughout several years of counselling experience since completing the Master of Counselling programme through the University of Auckland. Megan has experience working with young children, teenagers and adults. She supports her clients with a wide variety of difficulties including anxiety, depression, loss and grief, significant life changes, and sexual violence.

Megan works to prioritise the therapeutic relationship between the client and counsellor to create a welcoming, safe, and supportive counselling environment. She takes a pluralist approach to counselling practice, drawing a handful of modalities throughout the sessions to support the client. In taking this approach, Megan aims to walk beside the client as they move through difficult life stages.

Merryn Lala


About Merryn

Merryn's 15-year journey nurturing young minds in education now culminates in her final year of a Master of Counselling Studies, fueled by a passion for supporting the mental and emotional well-being of youth and adults.

Informed by her rich experience cultivating resilience and understanding in young minds, where each person's unique thoughts and feelings find a safe haven and a chance to flourish, she weaves a personalised tapestry of diverse counselling techniques and strategies, ensuring each session reflects the individual's journey.

When not nurturing potential in her sessions, Merryn finds solace in the company of her daughter and furry companions, or immersing herself in the serenity of New Zealand's natural beauty.

Michael Streifler


About Michael

Michael is a registered counsellor with over 20 years of experience working with adults from all walks of life dealing with a wide range of issues.  His approach is focused on building a caring and supportive relationship with his clients encouraging them to discover potential and recognise strength in themselves.  He helps his clients to achieve a balanced lifestyle, rational thoughts and high levels of self-care.   He has lived in Auckland for most of his life but now resides in a small town in Northland.

He works with people who are having difficulty with sexual orientation, identity & acceptance, relationships, work and study stress, depression and anxiety, family dynamics, major changes, illness or injury, loss and grief, addition issues, and low self-esteem.

Monica Barnett-Harris

Browns Bay, Auckland

About Monica

Monica has 21 years general counselling experience in four countries and has also worked in corporate for several years. Special interest areas are autism (ASD), grief, couples, 11-25 years, and cross-cultural issues. Using a person-centred or integrative approach to counselling, Monica meets every client where they are in their journey by providing a safe confidential space to explore what they bring to each session.

She believes self-nurture and self-kindness are an integral part of looking after oneself while the reason that brings someone to counselling is explored. Monica helps her clients explore tools and techniques that meet their individual needs to help them between sessions and for personal navigation of future challenging situations.

She previously worked for government for three years and non-government agencies for another three years. She has personally experienced the benefits of counselling in the past when going through tough times and now enjoys helping others in their own times of challenge.

Nola Forsyth

Birkenhead, Remuera, Auckland, Online

About Nola

Nola has worked in social services and counselling for many years and is a trained professional supervisor. She now provides supervision only. Nola has managed a team of counsellors, along with counselling students and researchers and has counselled a very wide range of people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. 

Nola has a breadth of experience in individual, couples, family, and group work, including counselling for loss and grief, relationship issues, depression and anxiety, eating issues, sexually harmful behaviour, domestic violence, and employee assistance. She is warm, empathetic, safe, ethical and client centred.  

Rosalind Heathcote

Clyde, Central Otago

About Rosalind

Ros is a New Zealand-trained, British counsellor providing general counselling for anxiety, depression, grief, trauma, and life changes. As a person-centred counsellor, she works hard to ensure counselling provides a safe, non-judgmental space for clients to be heard and feel understood.

In difficult times, it can be useful to notice and acknowledge strengths, understand limits, and reflect on our lives to provide new perspectives. To achieve this, she uses a variety of therapeutic approaches to support her clients in their unique journey towards peace and wellbeing.

Additionally, her training in neurodiversity informs her holistic and person-centred practice by acknowledging that every person has a unique way of perceiving, processing and understanding the world. She is committed to working sensitively and safely with people from all cultural backgrounds, with any neurodivergence such as ADHD or autism, and LGBTQI+. Most of the therapeutic approaches that she uses can be successfully used online as well as in person.

Seno Tuinukuafe

Birkenhead, Auckland

About Seno

Seno Tu’inukuafe (MNZAC) is a Tongan mother living on the North Shore. Born in Tonga, she migrated to New Zealand in 1986 and has been a counsellor since 2011. Seno holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling from the University of Auckland and recently completed a Master of Psychotherapy degree from Auckland University of Technology.

Seno values diversity and works with any ethnic community on a variety of issues including loss and grief.

Her hobbies are gardening, reading, crafting, travelling, music, culture, and anything relating to spirituality and soul care. 

Simran Lamba

Manukau, Auckland 

About Simran

Simran is client-centred in her practice and utilises the skills of empathy, congruence and being non-judgmental with her clients. She aims to work collaboratively with the clients and ensures her best to provide a safe space for the client by practicing ethically and maintaining confidentiality.

Having lived in various countries, Simran’s passion lies in working with people from different backgrounds and being culturally inclusive in her practice. Using a pluralistic approach in her counselling she believes every individual is unique, and hence, what may work for one person may not necessarily work for another. Areas of passion for Simran are trauma, loss and grief. She is fully proficient in English and Hindi.

Sunny Lin


About Sunny

Sunny is a passionate counsellor and supports clients suffering from anxiety and depression, addiction, loss and grief, low self-esteem, relationship stress, and workplace issues.

She previously worked for government for three years and non-government agencies for another three years. She has personally experienced the benefits of counselling in the past when going through tough times and now enjoys helping others in their own times of challenge.

About Val

Val has a Master of Counselling from the University of Auckland. She has previously worked as a journalist and has lived and worked in different parts of the world – this brings valuable life experience, knowledge, and multicultural perspectives to her counselling. 

In addition to her work at the Grief Centre, Val also does face-to-face counselling for Youthline. Her clients vary in age (from teenagers to over 60s), gender and nationality. Her empathy for others, counselling skills and personal qualities of genuineness, gentleness and compassion enable her to establish empathetic relationships and work effectively with clients of all backgrounds.

Val Leveson

Birkenhead, Birkdale, Auckland

About Valentina

Valentina has more than 10 years counselling experience, working for both government and non-government organisations as well as in private practice. Valentina has worked with people from diverse backgrounds, cultures and lifestyles and feels passionate about supporting people in their journey of change, growth, and healing. Her style is warm, kind, and empathetic.

Valentina’s areas of interest include loss and grief, addiction, relationships/communication, anxiety, depression, harmful sexual behaviour, self-esteem/confidence, eating-related issues, anger issues, stress, and life transitions.

Counselling modalities used to support such issues include person-centred, schema therapy, acceptance, and commitment therapy (ACT), dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), emotionally focused therapy (EFT), cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing. How these are used will depend on a client’s unique experience.

Valentina Bargiacchi

New Lynn, Auckland

About Viola

Viola is an experienced counsellor working with children, teens, and adults. She uses a person-centred approach walking alongside clients and supporting them with concerns like anxiety, depression, life changes, migration, loss and grief. Viola incorporates elements of narrative therapy, mindfulness, and art and play-based modalities in her practice and adjusts her approach to the individual needs of the client.

Viola’s areas of special interest are anxiety, loss and grief and neurodiversity (ASD, ADHD, giftedness, etc.). She grew up in Germany, moving to New Zealand in 2012 together with her husband and their four children.

Viola Beintken

Howick, Auckland

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