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Ready to Begin Counselling?

You’re in a same-sex (or mixed, or queer…) couple relationship or polyamorous/non-monogamous group. You’re thinking about meeting with LGBT/QIA+ Relationship Counsellor Dean Richardson MNCS(Accred/Reg) for Bespoke Relationship Counselling; It all seems like the right thing to do, and you and your partner(s) agree…

…but how do you get started?

Your First Easy Decisions

Let’s get started by asking three simple questions.

This will assist you in determining whether or not Dean’s counselling approach is the one you want for you and your partner(s).

  1. Does Dean’s Approach to Relationship Counselling for LGBT/QIA+ seem right for you?Tip: refer to Dean’s “Why Choose My Service” page. Don’t worry if you feel like you’re not quite understanding the details of Dean’s therapy approach. A good way forward, as you read this website, would be to focus on if you get a sense of “Yes, Dean seems good enough for us”. We’ll work through the details together when we work in session, and you’ll not be committed to more sessions than you recognise is helpful.
  2. Are you available to attend weekly appointments together with Dean?Tip: Appointments are automatically scheduled for the same time/day and same location/medium each week. Refer to the Appointments Table below to see which days and times are currently available. Some appointments will become available in the future, and you go on a waiting list for these.
  3. Are you able to afford Dean’s Counselling Session Fees?Tip: refer to Dean’s Counselling Fees page. Private counselling attracts a fee payable before each session. Fees vary depending on your choice of session length: couples may choose either 50 or 90 minute sessions. All group sessions are 90 minutes.
LGBT Couple Counsellor: Dean Richardson on Zoom & Skype

Having read the three questions above: what’s your answer….?


If you reply “No” to any question, then perhaps Dean is not be the right counsellor for you. It might be helpful to consider an alternative relationship counsellor as shown here…


If you reply “Yes” then continue reading to learn how straightforward it is to begin your first session of LGBTQ+ Relationship Counselling for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Trans, Queer…

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Five Easy Steps

STEP ONE: Decide – together – that you want to engage Dean as your couple counsellor.
NB – both partners must wish to engage in the process autonomously. Counselling cannot make someone change their position in a relationship.

STEP TWO: Budget for around 6 sessions (scheduled weekly).
NB: This is not a limit (maximum nor minimum) number but, rather, a gauge. By this number of sessions you will be in a clearer, informed position to be aware of the direction your relationship wants to go in. It’s also possible you may not need to meet with your counsellor around this time, but you’re very welcome to continue.

STEP THREE: Decide upon which day/time you’d prefer to meet.
NB: maybe prepare to have couple of alternatives in case your first choice isn’t available. Choose a time you can attend on a weekly basis (I do not offer anything other than weekly sessions and rescheduling appointments is not always possible).

STEP FOUR: Get in contact (using the straightforward contact form).

STEP FIVE: If still available Dean will reserve your preferred appointment(s) and confirm this with you both. You’ll be sent information about the counselling arrangements, and if you approve you’ll send send a £30 deposit* (payable online, using this page) to confirm the first session. We’ll then meet.

Five Steps to begin LGBT Counselling

After you have made Contact…

After your contact form has been received, you will receive an acknowledgement. This will include a confirmation of the requested service as well as information on how we schedule our first session. You will be asked to submit your £30 deposit to confirm our first session. After your deposit is received, you will receive a final confirmation email including information on our virtual meeting room (Zoom, Skype etc) as well as other preparation details. You will send the outstanding balance of your session fee prior to our first session. Following these arrangements we’ll meet as planned and begin our first round of conversations.

FYI: It usually takes about a week to arrange a first session (email exchanges, arranging to pay & receive the deposit, making arrangements with service providers etc).

*NOTE: the deposit is your way of confirming attendance for our first session and is taken off the first session (leaving the remainder to pay on the day). A deposit is not required for subsequent sessions; you will pay the full fee prior to each weekly session.

First Session: What Happens?

Note – because of the current situation, all counselling sessions are via Video (Zoom / Skype etc). You’ll be asked for your preferences when you use the contact page.

During our first counselling session, we’ll discuss how this relationship works (or doesn’t seem to work), what’s gone wrong, what’s been tried (and what each of us has observed/learned if anything), and what our initial impressions are about how counselling can assist.

We’ll have conversations about the relationship’s “system” (basically learning about behaviour: who does what and what is the response). We’ll chat about how we might collaborate (“might” because those in the relationship are heavily involved in the process itself and may not yet know their part in the difficulties yet). We’ll start by figuring out what we think our therapeutic collaboration will reveal.

We’ll make a note of what we’ve learned by the end of our first session. We’ll see if we can decide whether or not to continue with sessions. If we can’t decide, we’ll consider adding another session (etc) until we see our work taking shape, or it becomes evident that we’re not able to work together successfully.

If we continue counselling sessions, we’ll uncover (in deeper, useful detail) what are the faults in the relationship’s system. We’ll uncover new knowledge that will lead to new possibilities and ways of behaving in this relationship.

Weekly counselling sessions will follow until the couple or group becomes aware that they’re capable of dealing with their relationship problems alone. I often say: my intention is to become redundant to the relationship’s needs. We’ll then devise a strategy for wrapping up our meetings.

The couple or group who have contracted the counsellor may make an informed decision to bring counselling to a close at anytime they wish. Individual partners may choose to leave early:

  • Couples: if your partner leaves early then Dean will work with the remaining partner (eg up to 6 sessions) to bring the counselling to a close. This is because the contracting relationship has left and the individual remaining has the option to continue individual counselling with another counsellor (if they so wish).
  • Groups: provided there is a recognisable “group” left then therapy may continue (we’ll discuss options at the time). If no recognisable group remains we’ll work for up to 6 sessions to bring the counselling to a close. This is because the contracting group has left and those remaining have the choice to enter counselling with another counsellor (if they so wish).
How to Begin Counselling
Couple Counselling Couch

How we Begin Therapy

There are three main parts in the process of LGBT/QIA+ relationship counselling. We’ll begin to embrace this framework right from our very first session:-

A) Discovering our Focus

A major problem with relationship conflicts is when the parties involved are pretty sure they understand the problems. Yet, such an understanding doesn’t help address nor resolve their difficulties. I’d suggest that perhaps the lovers don’t really understand what is happening between them. The behaviour alone is insufficient information.

Without having a true picture the problem, how could a couple or group enact a satisfactory resolution?

So, our first part of counselling will see us working together to discover the details of the relationship’s conflicts and function. What counselling is going to focus upon?

Dean is a skilled and sympathetic interviewer. He will help the couple carefully drill down deeper into the relationship’s behaviour. This helps to begin discovering what lies at the root of conflicts. With more knowledge the couple and Dean begin to make better, more-informed decisions about how to proceed.

Gay Couple Therapy Service

B) Our Core Work Together

Once the focus for relationship counselling is better understood, the couple have a choice…

1) The couple or group may choose to work on the focus themselves. They take no further counselling sessions .

2) The couple or group may choose to continue in counselling with Dean, working weekly on the relationship’s discovered focus.

There is no set time limit for this work. Each relationship goes at its own pace.

Working with Dean may see the partners:-

  • …learn to observe their relationship’s behaviour as a tool to understanding what’s happening.
  • …learn to recognise their Individual Instant Responses to their partner, the ones that lead to unhelpful responses, and to consider how what might change.
  • …learn how to use empathy to appreciate their partner’s/partners’ point of view, without feeling attacked, or put down, or losing their equally valid point of view.
Hampshire, Sussex, Dorset LGBT Therapy Service

C) Bringing the Therapy Service to a Close

It’s not the aim of relationship counselling to resolve all the problems. A healthy, effective aim can be to reach a place where the relationship is behaving well enough for the partners to leave counselling whilst continuing on their journey alone.

Couples and Groups may leave counselling knowing that the main conflicts have been addressed, with their relationship more in harmony and their difficulties under their management through newly developed skills.

When the partners are working well away from the counselling sessions, they may decide to bring up the idea of ending counselling back into session. The last set of counselling sessions may be arranged and the partners and Dean can look back over the work. We notice anything that hasn’t been worked on or completed (an “unfinished business”), and the partners prepare to leave counselling.

The therapy continues after counselling has ended, but now the “therapy” in the hands of the partners themselves. No need to return back to counselling for top-up sessions (as if the relationship would somehow run out!) or further intervention from a professional.

LGBT Service for love and relationships

Choose: Unlimited or Set Number of Sessions


NHS facilities and some mental health charities offer you a limited or set number of sessions. The limit may be around 6 or 12 sessions. Sometimes this may mean you will end counselling before your full requirements are addressed.

The number of sessions available to you via this service has no artificial limit. You can attend for as long, or short, as therapy is helping. Dean effective therapy approach comes from his private practice - not a service managed by a third party - and all he asks is that you commit to regular, weekly attendance.

After we have established our counselling work, you may wish to discuss the number of sessions to be attended. This can help with budgeting, availability, or new issues that come up in counselling. We can discuss potential changes before they are implemented, allowing everyone to make an informed decision.

Primarily, because we are working with your specific relationship, the therapeutic needs of the relationship are of the utmost importance. Financial issues are important, and we can address them within the context of what the relationship requires from counselling.

Gay Couple Walking Away after Counselling is Complete

What Clients Say (Feedback)

Over 22 years worth of cases (over 2,000 people) ~ many clients have spoken about their experience with Dean as their therapist. Offering an effective approach to counselling with LGBT /QIA+ isn’t straightforward but it is rewarding; here are some highlights…

I discovered that we were in a open relationship… I hadn’t known!

We came into counselling to talk about what our relationship needed, and what we couldn’t give to each other.

We though we wanted to separate (and we didn’t want to). We learned what we really wanted was to learn how to do some things separately, and we stayed together.

We were ready to have children, but both of our upbringing was a bad experience. We wanted to make sure we’d tidied up our history before we welcomed in our first kid.

I needed to talk with my partner about Lesbian Bed Death. I’d been with an individual counsellor she kind-of put me off.

Dean had no problems talking with me about sexuality, sex and intimacy, and what was happening (or wasn’t happening!) in my relationship.

When my husband came out as gay, we wanted to stay together but didn’t know how (wife).

We met in a a pub and started going out. It was a year before we realised this wasn’t enough to keep us together – we didn’t really know each other.

We had fallen out of love. We wanted to get back the relationship we used to have.

As couple counselling progressed we gave up the idea of recapturing the past (that was lost). Instead we created a newer relationship together.

Our local GU clinic recommended we seek counselling because of one sus being unfaithful.

We argued over sex. During our counselling we both discovered that arguments were covering up fear. Once we addressed our fears the arguments went away.

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The Cove Therapy Rooms, 12 West StreetHavantHampshirePO9 1PFUK
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Private Relationship Counselling exclusively for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Mixed & Queer Couples and Established Polyamorous Groups - serving the UK Nationwide over Zoom & Skype, plus locations in and around central Havant, Petersfield to Waterlooville, Cosham to Portsmouth & Southsea, Southampton to Chichester, Fareham to Gosport, Hayling Island, Emsworth, Westbourne, Rowland's Castle, stretching westwards to Bournemouth, eastwards towards Brighton & Hove and northwards towards Liverpool, Manchester and Hull. For local residents anywhere in between, across the whole UK, and regularly further afield abroad!

Got a Question about Counselling with LGBT/QIA+ Relationships?

Come and ask… if you have a question about couple or group counselling for gay / lesbian / bisexual relationships, or want to ask about making a first appointment, get in touch today to discuss your needs.