BACKGROUND: Counselling of family members is an established procedure in the support of dementia patients' relatives. In absence of widespread specialised dementia care services in most countries, however, counselling services are often not taken up or only very late in the course of the disease. OBJECT: In order to promote acceptance of this service, a new counselling concept was implemented where general practitioners recommended family counsellors, who then actively contacted the family caregivers to offer counselling ("Counsellors Contact Caregivers", CCC). The research questions were: To what extent can the rate of family counselling be increased by CCC? What are the predictors for usage of this form of family counselling? METHODS: The study started in June 2006 in Middle Franconia for patients with mild to moderate dementia. At baseline, 110 family caregivers were offered counselling based on the CCC guideline. Data was analysed from 97 patient-caregiver dyads who received counselling for one year. The mean age of the patients with dementia (67 women and 30 men) was 80.7 years (SD = 6.2). The mean age of their primary family caregivers (68 women, 23 men) was 60.8 years (SD = 13.8). RESULTS: 35 family members (36%) made use of more extensive counselling (more than one personal contact). By contrast, 29 family members (30%) had no personal contact or only one personal contact (33 cases, 34%). The factors "spouse" (p = .001) and "degree of care" (p = .005) were identified as significant predictors for acceptance of extensive counselling. CONCLUSIONS: Actively contacting patients and their caregivers is a successful means of establishing early and frequent contact with family members of patients with mild to moderate dementia. Use of extensive counselling is made especially by spouses of patients requiring intensified care.