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Help with Separation… 

One of the most common misconceptions about couple counselling is:-“…it’s meant to make couples stay together!”


(You can read more misconceptions about couple counselling here…)

You see, having worked 24 years as a counsellor, 14 of them focussed on gay, lesbian, bisexual & queer couples, I can most definitely tell you that relationship counselling is not about making a couple (or group) stay together! The outcome the couple wants is the outcome we’ll work towards (even when outcomes change – a perfectly valid thing to do – during the life of the counselling work).

The initial goals of relationship counselling include assisting the couple deciding what they would want from counselling (assuming they didn’t already know; discussions in session can reveal and inspire new desires). Sometimes several sessions are dedicated to helping the couple figure out what they want; it’s not always a straightforward decision, and it can be reviewed countless times during the counselling relationship. But once we reach a direction agreeable to the couple, planning and working through how we make their needs a reality begins.

LGBT Couples Counselling can therefore become an effective and rewarding process for partners who need to organise the end of their relationship. With professional help they can separate successfully and, should the need arise, intimately… according to circumstances.

Broken Gay Marriage

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Gay Couple with Relationship Problems Sitting Apart

Managing a Relationship Breakup

During their time together a relationship may have attained arbitrary joint assets (their record collection for example) but may have also gained more significant assets such as property, children, their pets, joint responsibilities outside of the relationship and so on.

Planned and Unplanned

Consider that not all breakups happen because one or both partners make a decision to end their relationship. Death/terminal illnesses, career opportunities, family situations etc can all bring about an unplanned ending to the relationship. Separation, planned or unplanned, needs sensitivity and understanding.

When a relationship has to come to an end, the relationship s breaking-up, dealing with joint assets can be the last thing on the partners’ minds. But it is a major task to complete and many relationships choose to tackle this together.

Counselling for Relationship Separation can assist a couple supportively & respectfully work through a breakup. To decide which matters belong with whom, and what matters may continue to be the responsibility of the two (or more… if a polyamorous relationship) partners going forward.

Some partners pay lawyers to detail this at an expensive hourly cost. Other partners decide to work through the list themselves, with an experienced relationship-breakup facilitator such as a couple counsellor.

A Relationship-End Shock

When you learn that your relationship has ended, the idea of using counselling to process separation (either alone, or with your ex-partner) may not be welcome… initially.

Maybe you thought a problems was becoming resolved – and then you learn that your partner was not being honest. Upon learning the truth your first shock reaction might be to end the relationship. This is not unusual and understandable due to shock.

This is also where a couples counsellor can help you (and your partner, together) look at what has happened with cool, clear eyes. The facts may not change, but your ability to process and make informed decisions can change.

What might have lead you to “dump him” could later be seen as something you could both work through; rescuing or transforming the relationship into something more than it was. And that can include the possibility of separating too.

Girl Receiving Shocking News on Phone

On Death or a Terminal Diagnosis

Not all separations are unexpected or unplanned.

Some separations – or the ending of a relationship – occur as a result of death or the diagnosis of a terminal illness.

It may not have occurred to a couple that they might plan to say their final goodbyes to each other. Certainly, a couple may not be able to consider such planning at the time of learning such devastating news, but may benefit from assistance in handling such hot and painful topics (a concept that Irvin Yalom referred to as “striking while the iron’s… cold”).

Counselling for the ending of a relationship can be a valuable resource when the couple is willing to embrace such an idea and need assistance. They can reclaim the closure of their own relationship rather than leaving it to the whim of unstoppable inevitability.

Relationship Ending through Death

How Breakup Counselling Begins

First Session(s)

Initially, couples meet with their counsellor to discuss their relationship problems. Right at the start of the session Dean will be assisting the couple in making an informed decision about counselling (eg taking contact information, a history of the individuals and the relationship, any previous counselling experiences, psychiatric/GP care etc). After safeguarding is completed, we move into assisting the couple to begin finding the focus of the counselling. This may be about dealing with matters the relationship has to sort out for them to be able to walk away.

The first session (sometimes the first handful of sessions) include evaluating if the couple and counsellor can work together. We notice if we’re able to work with what’s on offer. The first session(s) may merge into subsequent sessions naturally, rather than to declare “the first session is done, now we move on!”, or we may interrupt our work to discuss possible other approaches (or services) to which the couple may respond better.

Subsequent Sessions

Each subsequent session usually begins with the invitation: “What do we need to focus upon today?” This puts the couple’s autonomy and inspiration in charge of leading the session.

Matters that came up since hte last session are often a good starting place.

We may discuss previous week’s homework (see later), any new difficulties that the couple have encountered, or any new learning and new decisions being made since last session.

Post-Session Homework

Counselling for Couples within each session can be about identification:

  • identifying the focus,
  • identifying relating conflicts / difficulties
  • identifying processes that get in the way of resolution (eg defences, historic experiences etc).

And whilst sessions can regularly include some practice (how to transform what we’re identifying) there is also oodles of time for experimentation and transformations outside of the session: we call this homework!

The counsellor doesn’t set the homework. The couple are asked to identify together what they need to deal with before the next session. After a while the couple become independently skilled at identifying their own homework.

Homework for a Couple in Therapy

How Counselling Comes to a Close

If a primary aim in relationship counselling is to empower the partners to make their own relationship-ending decisions together, then an equally important aim will be empowering the couple to make their counselling come to an end too.

A couple does not have to be in counselling until every problem regarding their separation is resolved.

No, through practising therapeutic techniques that the couple developed in session with Dean, the couple develop and employ their own approach t bringing their relationship to a close.

Once the couple recognise they can do this autonomously, the need for further counselling sessions diminishes.

How Counselling Comes to an End

Using Two Video Devices

Because this service makes excellent use of video technology (Counsellor Dean Richardson has more than 17 years’ experience), this may suit separating partners as they don’t have to meet in person, and the counsellor is present at every meeting.

Dean’s original focus as a couple counsellor was working with Long Distance Relationships (i.e. partners being in a different countries to each other would have to use one device each).

Empowering talk at home

The technology means that Dean’s particular approach empowers separating relationships to be able to talk with each other about subjects they couldn’t usually manage “at home”.

Difficult subjects – especially of the theme of bringing the relationship to an end – became more accessible due to the use of multiple video devices and remote sessions.

Any mix of Smartphones, tablets, PCs, Macs etc works.

Couple on Video Counselling

⚠️Might you be looking for Family Mediation?

Counsellors and Mediators have quasi-comparable skills (skills that appear to be the same), which can leave you struggling to decide which professional service might benefit your relationship the most.

Counsellors are not mediators, and mediators are not counsellors. So, in a (very small) nutshell...

  • Counsellors are trained/qualified to support parties who wish to reconcile (and may wish to investigate separation),  and who need to explore historical problems and more deep-rooted historical issues in their relationship, etc.
  • Mediators are trained/qualified to support parties wishing to separate amicably, maintain boundaries in keeping discussions targeted towards the future, mitigate "blaming-behaviour", etc.
Family Mediation

About Dean Richardson MNCPS (Accred/Reg)

You could choose any couple / group counsellor…

Given that this will be the most intimate and vulnerable you could feel alongside your partner(s), you would want a skilled professional whose experience and specialism you could trust; whose focus would be upon your distinct relationship. Your couple, throuple or group relationship will be in good hands with Dean. He works from Great Britain, is Independent of "box 'em/shift 'em" therapy services, and identifies as a gay couple counsellor. He's also easily payable in pounds sterling! Dean already had an impressive 17 years actual video "webcam" experience - way before the first British emergency began (when suddenly many counsellors added a Video option to their portfolio, having not practised so previously! 🤔).

What makes Dean Distinct

  • Dean is sensitive and effective to your sexuality / gender-identity and intimate ways of relating to each other. You'll discover quickly that Dean is an informed member of your own community.
  • Dean demonstrates adept skills with lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, fluid, mixed sexuality and same-or-mixed gender relationships having over 24 years' experience as a counsellor.
  • Dean avoids taking a the role of "all-knowing expert" (whether requested or projected onto him by the clients). "Experts" tell you what to do, do not learn very well from others, and struggle to adapt to new situations. A couple counsellor must be curious, adaptive, and ask questions from a "not knowing" position so that the relationship in counselling benefits from re-examination.
  • Dean speaks plain English (and can swear like a virtuoso if you like, or not at all if you prefer). He works cooperatively with your relationship (no unnecessary silence, or just "hmms...").
  • Dean was originally accredited by his first professional body 15 years ago; he is now an accredited registrant with The National Counselling and Psychotherapy Society. Accreditation is a valued recognition of a counsellor's substantial experience. Dean is also a member of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Union of Great Britain.
  • Dean is a British Counsellor working from the South of England. Unlike other counselling services operating from abroad Dean is registered, accredited, insured & supervised from within England (not from abroad).

If any of this resonates with you and your partner(s), you should probably meet with the Gay Relationship Counsellor: Dean Richardson MNCPS (Accred/Reg) via Zoom, Skype, Whatsapp and other secure, reliable video conferencing media.

Dean focuses on LGBT/QIA+ relationships as a specialty in therapy. He works with individuals, couples and small groups. Plus, he's qualified to a postgraduate level (Chichester PG Diploma in Psychodynamic / Systemic Couple Counselling, IGA National Foundation in Group Counselling), and works as a private practice counsellor employing 24+ years experience*.

(*Very Important: not all counsellors have such specific skills for working with couples nor groups. Those who are initially trained to use common "Individual" Counselling skills have no experience in working therapeutically with relationships. Such counsellors may try, perhaps out of misplaced goodwill, to employ "individual" techniques (multiplied by 2) but the couple or group will find that the approach is ineffective. Simply put: it's the wrong approach; your relationship is not part of the counsellor's primary theoretical framework. Remember always to ask your potential counsellor: "what qualifies you to work with our relationship?" and trust your instincts based on what you hear.

MNPCS Accredited Registrant Counsellor
Member of the British Psychotherapy and Counselling Union
Location Image+44-56-0366-3067£30-£130
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Got a Question about LGBT/QIA+ Counselling?

Come and ask... whatever question you have about couple and/or group counselling for gay, lesbian, bisexual, aromatic, asexual and mixed-orientation relationships you might have, get in touch today to discuss your needs…

Private Counselling Services Designed for the LGBTQ+ Community. Available Exclusively to Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, ASexual, ARomantic, 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!