Group Counselling – is it for You?

Polyamorous families/groups need bespoke, professional support from time-to-time, too.

You could be a member of a well-established polyamorous* group. You and your partner could be in a non-monogamous* relationship. You may have started dating someone whose relationship philosophy includes non-monogamy, or you may be thinking about expanding your relationship into a group. Your poly-partner may have introduced a new member to your group, and it may be difficult to accept the newcomer. Perhaps different members of your relationship are dealing with conflicts and strong feelings that are upsetting the group.

When it comes to polyamorism and/or non-monogamous group counselling, it makes no difference what kind of relationship you’re in. In group counselling, we’re concentrating on the issues between you and one or more of your partners.

These – and other – issues you’re dealing with may benefit from professional help.

I’m going to suppose that you’ve searched for ally counsellors who work with polyamory & non-monogamy, but when you looked at some websites you thought: “erm does she or not?!” 😕

Polyamorous Group Relationship Counselling with Dean Richardson MNCS(Accred/Reg) – having more than 22 years counselling experience – is the professional bloke you’d consult with if you and one or more of your partners want to work through difficult relationship conflicts, make changes to your group, introduce a new member, or do anything else that is emotionally affecting your group.

  • 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).

Polyamorous Group Counselling

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Why you might Consider Group Counselling

This couldn’t be an exhaustive list of reasons to consider group counselling. But it might help you identify areas that counselling could help with:-

  • Your partner introduces the idea of additional partners to be invited into the relationship.
  • Your new love-interest is already a member of a poly/non-monogamous group.
  • Someone new is introduced into an established group and this results in group conflicts.
  • Someone wishes to leave an established group.
  • A change is introduced (new birth, retirement, career change, location move) and the group are struggling to manage.
  • The group is struggling with social and/or intimacy skills amongst some or all members.
  • The group is failing to communicate well. 
Group Finding Concordance

A Nonnormative Approach

Dean is a fully qualified and experienced relationship counsellor who works with individuals, couples and groups.

He specialises in working with non-traditional couple relationships, triads (“thruple”), polyamory and non-monogamy (three-or-more-member) relationships.

Dean does this by employing effective therapeutic approaches that, firstly, make no judgements about how a relationship is supposed to be, and – secondly – embraces a nonnormative philosophy which means he won’t refer to “a normal relationship would do this…”.

Compare this approach with some others that make basic assumptions about what a relationship “is supposed to be” (perhaps like some religion-based forms of counselling, where the counsellor takes a prescriptive role: offering advice and instruction based upon their religion doctrine).

  • Dean does not prescribe what the “normal” relationship would be doing in order to resolve your difficulties.
  • Dean does not refer to “what other (implication: more successful?!) relationships like yours would do is…”
In this way, polyamorous relationship counselling focuses on the group members’ distinct relationship to each other (not someone else’s belief about how a successful relationship ought to be).

Diverse Family

Bespoke Group Relationship Counselling

Group counselling is not about meeting with a professional, telling him about your troubles and then he prescribes how you go about fixing things. No, a group counsellor is someone who assists the group in figuring out resolutions themselves.

Unlike some other services, this is not a one-size-fits-all nor a manualised approach to group counselling. This is a facilitated approach with a professionally experienced counsellor, working with the group to develop a therapeutic intervention that works for their distinct and unique relationship.

Not only is this approach more sustainable (the group is developing their own approach to their own difficulties) it avoids setting the group’s expectations of meeting with an “Expert” who presents himself as having “all the answers”.

But let’s talk about the “science bit” for a second: three primary therapeutic theoretical models employed in Dean’s approach to group relationship counselling:-

  • Systemic (Milan Associates)

    A theoretical model that sees a relationships as a linked-system (think: washing machine program: the clothes are washed using a step-by-step approach. Conditioner is not applied until rinse has completed, and rinse does not begin until wash has ended, etc). A system has processes (behaviours that invite us to love our partner), and triggers (things that might kick off an argument). By discovering what kind of systems this group relationship employs (intended, accidental, faulty, internal, external) the group and Dean together can gain new knowledge about the relationship. New knowledge leads to discovering opportunities for change.

  • Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

    A theoretical model that recognises unconscious processes and the influence of past experiences. Such past experiences (eg early childhood experienced replaying in the moment), experiences of upbringing/parenting, and unresolved experiences looking for a conclusion. The group and Dean can discover conflicts raise their presence within the group and consider how group members might assist in conflict resolution (or at least, empathy).

  • Foulksian Facilitative ‘Matrix’

    A theoretical approach to groups, how groups operate, how members form multiple distinct relationships within the group, and how to manage such matrices (preferences, jealousy, unresolved irritation etc).

Considering how these extraordinarily approaches are so effective in group counselling, notice how non of them take a position that someone has to be in a traditional relationship!

One Video Device per Attendee

Dean Richardson has more than 14 years’ practice in Couple 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 about video: partners attending relationship counselling also benefited from using individual devices (i.e. one device each, sitting in different rooms from each other). Partners 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 partners to talk with each other, in counselling, about subjects that couldn’t usually be discussed “at home” (or, at least, not during 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 your group…

Couple on Video Counselling

Beginning Group Counselling

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

First Session

As an established group, one (or more) of you will have completed Dean’s contact form to start the process.

Having made arrangements for everyone to meet together on Zoom (or Skype etc), during our first group counselling session we’ll spend a little time making sure that everyone can see and hear each other and that our cameras, microphones and screens are working. (In my experience: Zoom tends to be more reliable than Skype when meeting with groups of people in a telehealth session).

  • Next, we’ll begin discussing, agreeing and setting any important and specific boundaries that the group may need (eg interrupting others whist they’re talking, safety plans, confidentiality, what can be spoken about outside of a group session, etc).
  • We’ll begin discussions upon how the group perceives the relationship problem(s). We may try to prioritise what is to be focussed upon in sessions (higher ranking to lower ranking).
  • We’ll have conversations about how members of the group may or may not have recognised the group’s “system” (basically learning who does what and what the response can be).
  • We’ll discuss working together – pros, cons, hopes, hears, and we’ll begin to discover what the group suspects may be uncovered by our therapy work.
By the end of our first session we’ll note what we’ve learned, what we will attend to in future sessions and begin making decisions about continuing with our work, or discuss alternative arrangements if the group struggles to make use of Dean’s therapeutic approach.

Continuing our work we’ll uncover (in greater detail) what the group’s system is struggling with (who does what, that triggers who, resulting in someone doing which etc), discovering new information which will lead to new options. Choices may come from new options and we may learn to consider newer ways of altering ones behaviour (to see how conflicts are managed better).

We’ll continue working until the group collectively decides they wish to go it alone, helpfully making the counsellor redundant to their needs. We’ll arrange to say goodbye.

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.

Non-monogamy vs Polyamory.

*The terms: polyamory and non-monogamy are sometimes used interchangeably, but whilst they are related terms they also have distinct meanings.

Non-monogamy (effectively: “multiple concurrent, intimate relationships”) – non-monogamous / non-monogamist : may be any form of sexual relationship outside of another relationship. Love does not have to be a part of this involvement. The encounter may be physical only.

Polyamory (effectively: “multiple loves”) – polyamorism / polyamorous / polyamorist: may be any relationship outside of another relationship where romantic love is involved. The relationship(s) may or may not involve a sexual aspect too.

Polyamory/non-monogamy is not the same as bigamy.

Neither relationship philosophy is a disorder.

 

Polyamorism Statistics (UK)

%

% Britons who are Polyamorous

Reference: Euroclinix.

%

Northern Ireland (Most)

%

North West (Median)

%

East Midlands (Least)

%

Male

%

Female

Region
Reference: Euroclinix

Gender
Reference: Euroclinix

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.