Aims Counselling has for LGBT /QIA+ Couples

Let’s talk about why you’re here…

If the primary goal of Gay & Lesbian Couples Counselling is to assist a couple seeking help with their distinct relationship conflicts, how do we design a unique & effective relationship therapy that addresses their specific issues? In reality: your specific issues.

Unlike some therapy services, this is not a one-size-fits-all approach to gay couple / marriage counselling (what some call: "manualised"). Instead, this is a facilitated / therapeutic approach with a professionally experienced gay relationship counsellor (who's been practising for over 22 years now).

There are no "do these three things and everything will be fine" instructions, which can be unsettling for some. Working collaboratively, the couple and counsellor set about developing a therapeutic process that the partners themselves invest in (maybe a little at the start, and increasingly as they gain confidence). They practice at home, bring back matters for review and modification, take stuff away, and so on. At some point the couple recognise that the counsellor's presence is becoming redundant and then we can discuss how we might like to close our work.

Our goal is for the process to mature into something useful for your distinct and unique couple relationship needs. Plus, the approach means the couple don't get to feel as if they're passive prescriptees to a therapist's instruction.

Innovation, Creativity and Ideas in LGBT+ Couples Counselling

The beginning to this effective approach sees Dean Richardson MNCS(Accred/Reg) holding the therapeutic frame (a fancy way of saying he outlines the basic building blocks that the couple and Dean may use to empower relationship transformation). The couple gain new information about their relationship; with new information comes new, informed choices.

The evidenced rationale for this being beneficial to gay couples in therapy builds upon the original Milan Associatesdiscoveries as follows:-

  • Curiosity (initiated through Counselling)… leading to  →  New Information.
  • New Information… leading to  →  New Options.
  • New Options… leading to  →  Negotiating / Making New Choices.
  • New Choices… leading to  →  Transforming the Relationship (through informed empowerment).
  • Transformation underway (partners consider leaving counselling).

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Counselling for gay or lesbian couples takes place in weekly sessions, each of 50 minutes (or optionally 90 minutes).

Firstly, we discover what will be the focus of our work (the focus is not always decided upon by the couples presenting behaviour). We then use the focus to help unpack the relationship’s behaviour,  learning new information and making use of new understanding.  We employ the couple’s own creativity and ability to hypothesise – using new information to put into place proposed new behaviour (with Dean’s assistance and support). We bring our counselling work to an end when the couple’s new behaviour is making Dean redundant (seriously!). The couple continue their work alone, without need for further “top-up” sessions from the counsellor (unless the couple request).

Couples counselling with Dean supports this methodology through employing (science bit…) integrated systemic and psychodynamic psychotherapy frameworks. He maintains a neutral position, employing a motivating style of curiosity and interest. We development, together, of new hypotheses around the relationship’s behaviour (why might this or that be happening…) and the discovery of new information to help  make informed choices for change.

Couples Don’t Talk for Very Good Reasons

It might have been an affair years ago.

He might have said something that made you think: “do I know him at all?”

It could have been repeated behaviour that upsets you, but without being able to resolve it you both simply don’t talk about it…

…and it rots away in the space between you two.

Couples don’t talk for very good reasons, and when entering counselling we can begin to create a safe place in which pending-conversations can begin to be held. We could create some rules. We could discuss what both partners hope as a resolution. The counsellor could monitor both partners during talking. The couple could learn how to check-in with each other whilst the conversations take place.

Whatever is created it will be a therapy that’s created to suit your distinct relationship and no other. 

Girl Running and Not Listening

Telling your Story (the Jigsaw Puzzle Analogy)

Maybe think of Gay Couple Counselling like this story:- a lesbian couple come into counselling carrying an open box. Within the box are many jigsaw pieces, all mixed up. The women suppose that all the pieces are there, but when they try and build the picture one pulls out a piece saying: “blue – this obviously means it’s a piece of the ‘sky’!” and tries to fit the piece to others that may also be sky. The other partner looks at the piece and says: “that’s not ‘sky’; blue means ‘sea’!” and tries to fit the piece to bits that might be sea. An struggle ensues between the women because some pieces are fitting together and other aren’t; the couple are fighting over what the “picture” is meant to look like.

A major problem here is that no-one has the box lid. The couple don’t know what the picture is supposed to look like. The couple have their individual assumptions about what the bits are and are not discussing with each other to reach an agreement. Each partner is wrestling with the other upon their individual ideas of what this picture is supposed to be.

So, if the jigsaw puzzle is the couple’s relationship what does counselling do to help the couple rebuild (or build for the very first time) the picture of their relationship?

Jigsaw Analogy for LGBT Therapy

In session, the counsellor’s role includes facilitating the couple into discussing, negotiating and agreeing / empathising / compromising upon what each piece might be in the context of this relationship (new information →  inspiration, negotiation, compromise), how each piece might fit with others, and working together to build their own picture. We’re supporting each other in hypothesising “if a blue piece could be more than only sky or sea what else could it be?” to empower the couple with newer (piece fitting…) options to help to build this new relationship picture.

The couple (at their own pace) become empowered into making their own hypotheses with each other. As this ebbs and glows, the counsellor step back/forward with holding the concept of the couple’s relationship in mind. The couple are discovering new information and are making new, informed choices sufficiently for the pieces of their relationship to fit together, better than before, and a clearer picture is developing in front of them.

Gay Couples Therapy with you (not done to you)

It’s a common assumption about gay couples therapy (based on our experiences with the GP/Doctor – i.e. medicalised approach) that couples will arrive in therapy, describe their symptoms, and expect that the therapist will prescribe how they should go about resolving their “illness.”

Maybe there’s a hope that the therapist will perform the treatment on their behalf too.

If this is so, the first task for gay couples therapy will be to manage (together – hint!) disappointment: “why isn’t the therapist fixing our relationship?!” (and you can read more about this phenomenon here: Why Relationship Counselling Doesn’t Work…).

Sometimes, one or more partners may try to convince the gay couple’s therapist that they are “right” arguing that their partner is “wrong”. I’d suggest to you that this could well be a reflection of the gay couples’ problems at a deeper level of the relationship (eg the symbolism around: “I have to be right; so to make that a fact you must be wrong”)

In gay couples therapy, we can actually make helpful and effective use of these – and more – behaviours once we’ve observed them happening in session.

Gay Couples Therapy on Video

We’re trying to gain new knowledge (see above) about this gay couple in therapy. With knowledge comes curiosity, new information, inspiration and opportunities for change.

As a Gay Couples Therapist, Dean practices a form of Family Relationship Therapy referred to as an integrated systemic / psychodynamic approach. He takes a neutral stance within the therapeutic alliance in order to learn how the couple pull and push together.  He’s listening within the stories for common and/or conjoined anxieties (hidden within the couple’s story) that the couple (unawares) are trying to mitigate.

Dean’s approach may relieve you of the need to compel the therapist to act as an adjudicator (deciding who is right or wrong). Indeed, it may be beneficial to discuss in session any and all recognition of such needs.

This is just one of the many psychological approaches that Dean employs to work with gay couples in therapy, rather than employing tools or exercises at the couple (like some therapists inexperienced in couple work may try to do. Couples in therapy sessions are invited to participate within the therapy as equal participants alongside the therapist. In time, we become three therapists working together.

A little later, two therapists (the two of you) will say goodbye to the third (me) as they leave the therapeutic relationship.

Using Two Video Devices

Dean Richardson has more than 14 years’ practice Counselling via Video Conferencing (Skype, Zoom etc). His original focus was working with couples in Long Distance Relationships (i.e. partners being in a different countries to each other would have to use one device each).

As 2019’s pandemic developed, Dean discovered a therapeutically useful phenomenon for couples seeking remote counselling services over video: couples living together also benefited from using individual devices (i.e. one device each, sitting in different rooms from each other); couples reported back that the approach gave them a helpful sense of “we’re not at home” during therapy.

This means that Dean’s particular approach empowers couples to talk with each other, in counselling, about subjects that couldn’t usually be discussed “at home” (or, at least, not in the early stages of counselling). Difficult subjects became more accessible due to the use of two video devices (any mix of Smartphones, tablets, PCs, Macs etc available to the couple).

So, as you consider entering counselling with Dean Richardson for Zoom/Skype Video Counselling, the following Preparations for Video Counselling will be helpful to you both…

Couple on Video Counselling

Beginning Counselling

First Session(s)

Initially, couples meet with their counsellor to discuss their relationship problems. Right at the start of the sessin Dean will ensure that the couple are 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 telling the story of the relationship, the current problems, what enables couples to begin talking.

Finding the Focus is an important aspect for couple therapy. A couple may think they know what the problems are from behaviour (or events). But when the counsellor begins to drill down a little more for new information the couple may find that what they think are the problems are actually symptoms of a deeper ailment. This will be helpful – once the focus is identified more clearly, counselling can proceed with a more accurate aim.

The first session (or handful of sessions) also have the agenda of 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 think we need to focus upon today?” This puts the couple’s autonomy and inspiration in charge of leading the session.

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.

Appointments:

Couple & Individual Video Counselling (Zoom,Skype…)
Visit HavantCounselling.com
Mon:Waiting List (contact me)
 Information: a new early-evening appointment may be available in the coming weeks...
Tue:Not Available
Wed:3pm, 4pm or 7pm
Thu:2pm or 3pm
Fri:Not Available
W/E:Not Available
Polyamorous Group Video Counselling (Zoom,Skype…)
Fri:1pm, 2pm, 6pm or 7pm

Waiting lists are available for unavailable times.

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!

Rather than the counsellor setting the homework each time, the couple will be asked to identify together what themes they noticed emerging during session. These themes can help the couple identify what they might wish to focus upon in their own time. After a while the couple become independently skilled at identifying their own homework.

Subsequent sessions may include discussions about the previous week(s) homework: identifying what worked well, what didn’t go so well, and what could be done differently. A way to feed back into the counselling sessions new information for working upon with the therapist.

Homework for a Couple in Therapy

How our Partnership Ends

If a primary aim in relationship counselling is to empower the partners to make their own transforming decisions together, then an equally important aim will be empowering the couple to make their counsellor redundant.

I’m talking about the couple bringing the counselling to and end (but not their own therapeutic behaviour together).

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

No, through practising therapeutic techniques that the couple developed in session with Dean, the couple begin to develop and employ their own therapeutic approach. Once the couple recognise that this has become effective within their partnership (e.g. the couple are managing their own difficulties more successfully), the need to attend weekly counselling sessions diminishes.

How Counselling Comes to an End

Most couples leave counselling with their difficulties well on the way to becoming resolved – without the need to have everything fixed. The counsellor becomes redundant.

And, unlike some therapists who seem to suggest future top-up sessions are necessary (as if you’d somehow run out!? 🤔), Dean’s approach to couples counselling requires no expectation upon you returning into counselling. You are both welcome to meet with Dean again if you feel the need, but that would be on your terms – not the counsellor’s insistence nor insinuation.   

Counselling for a Gay / LGBTQ+ Couple's Sex Life

Even though we all might suspect that any couple can experience distress or dysfunction in their sex lives, here we're not talking about just any couple's sex life... we're talking about your sex life.

So, if sex has become difficult, complicated, or even impossible, an LGBT Couple may wish to consult with a Sexual Relationships Counsellor, such as Dean.

Counselling aims to help the couple understand their sexual behaviour problems from both a practical (what's going wrong physically) and an emotional (a barometer of some deeper problems) standpoint .

Sexual dysfunctional in a relationship can be distressing, and we can talk it through to help you.

Counselling for Gay Men's Sex Lives

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

How a Relationship Counsellor Thinks

You might be wondering how all of these splendid therapy processes actually work.

What does the counsellor actually thinking about when he's working with a couple's or a group's relationship?

What's going on inside of the counsellor's head - what is he actually doing before he speaks?

So as to not distract from this page's focus, I'll invite you to read the separate article: "How a Relationship Counsellor Thinks...".

Trust me... it's got science-ey bits in it... 😲🤣

How a Relationship Counsellor Thinks

About Dean Richardson MNCS(Accred/Reg)

You could choose any counsellor…

Given that this will be the most intimate and vulnerable you could be with your partner(s), you would want a skilled professional whose expertise you could trust, and whose focus would be upon your distinct relationship. Your couple 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 14 years actual video webcam experience way before the first British emergency began (when suddenly counsellors added a Video option to their portfolio, having not practiced so previously! 🤔).

What makes Dean a Distinct Counsellor

  • 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 22 years expertise as a therapist.
  • Dean avoids the role of "all-knowing expert." Experts do not learn and adapt to new situations (such as your distinct relationship). Experts simply instruct using a pre-programmed approach 🤔.
  • 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 is an accredited member of The National Counselling Society. Accreditation is a valued recognition of his substantial expertise, originally awarded 12 years ago from another professional organisation. He is 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 actually 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 the Online, Gay Relationship, Video Counsellor Dean Richardson MNCS(Accred/Reg) for yourself.

 

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) as a private practice counsellor*.

(*Note: not all counsellors, particularly those who are trained by common "Individual" Counselling qualifications, have such specific qualifications for working with couples or groups. Nor do they have experience in working with therapeutic relationships. Such counsellors may try, perhaps out of misplaced goodwill, to employ "individual" techniques but the couple or group find that the approach is ineffective. This is simply because your relationship is not part of the counsellor's primary theoretical framework nor rationale. A couple is not: "individual-counselling-multiplied-by-two." Remember to always ask your potential counsellor: "what qualifies you to work with our relationship?" and trust your instincts based on the responses you hear.

Accredited Registrant of the National Counselling Society
Member of the British Psychotherapy and Counselling Union
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The Cove Therapy Rooms, 12 West StreetHavantHampshirePO9 1PFUK
+44-56-0366-3067£30-£130
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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 and eastwards towards Brighton & Hove. For local residents anywhere in between and regularly further afield!

Got a Question about Counselling?

Don't Hold Back… if you have a question about counselling for gay / lesbian / bisexual couples & groups, or want to ask about making a first counselling appointment, you're welcome to get in contact to discuss your needs.