Why LGBT/QIA+ Couples & Groups use Counselling…It may shock you how LGBT/QIA+ relationships makes their final decision about counselling. When your own precious relationship is in trouble - regardless of it being a monogamous couple, a polyamorous group, an open couple or a non-monogamous group, you too can find counselling transforming. Zoom & Skype services available from Havant, Hampshire (England). Read why relationships-in-conflict choose to work with the specialist counsellor: Dean Richardson MNCS(Accred/Reg) having over 21 years+ experience in resolving conflicts, pain & grief…
Same Sex Couples Counselling
LGBTCoupleCounselling.co.uk – the choice for same sex couples counselling, mixed-sexuality relationships, LGBT/QIA+ couples and polyamorous groups considering entering counselling to work through the difficulties within their most intimate relationship.
Specialist Gay Counsellor
Dean Richardson MNCS(Accred/Reg) is a specialist counsellor, focussing on the needs of LGBT/QIA+ couple & group relationships.
If you are in a same sex couple, mixed or queer relationship / commitment / marriage, Dean’s therapeutic approach to relationships specifically addresses concerns for gay, lesbian & bisexual partners (unlike the more generic of counsellors).
Suitable for a gay men, lesbian woman, bisexual, same-sex and queer adult couples and established groups: intimate, marital, business or social.
Plus mixed sexuality / mixed-gender intimate relationships.
Together we will discover the root of a relationship’s problems, and then learn how to address the conflicts, aiming to make the counsellor redundant.
No Restricted Time
Your intimate relationship has no set time period, so neither does private LGBT/QIA+ Counselling for Couple & Group Relationships.
You’ll not be restricted to six sessions (like GPs/NHS). You’ll not be introduced to months of unending counselling.
We’ll discover what your relationship needs, and then work through those specific conflicts.
Weekly & Reliable
Effective counselling is weekly ~ any more time between sessions is optional but weaken the effective work achieved in counselling.
Weekly sessions also help with budgeting, arranging baby-sitting, managing your careers, and provides a weekly sanctuary where a couple gets to focus exclusively and safely upon their relationship.
Is Counselling for You
As a gay, lesbian, bi or mixed-sexuality couple or group, any of these situations may seem familiar to either of you. It can help knowing that your relationship difficulties – whilst private – may not be as distressing or shameful as you think, especially when the problems are known only to the two of you.
By recognising your relationship conflicts, and learning that Dean Richardson – as a counsellor – also knows about these conflicts, you both can make a relieving decision to try counselling to help you both together.
- A sense that the reasons for staying in the relationship have become lost (to one or more of you).
- Repeating patterns of unhappy behaviour that neither of you can shift… or shift for very long.
- Attempts to reconcile after a breakup keep failing (old problems keep bring brought up).
- You don’t talk with each other very well (or any longer)… and when you do it seems to lead to arguments.
- You seem to relate like brothers/sisters now, instead of like the lovers you used to be, and you don’t like this.
- Intimacy problems: whether sexual intimacy, physical intimacy or emotional intimacy; the magic has become tragic.
- Violence or abuse in the relationship (ranging from perhaps feeling bullied physically or emotionally, to full domestic violence and abuse).
- One or both of you have acted outside the relationship’s understanding (an affair, social-flirting, being let down etc).
- Step-family problems: becoming a parent to someone else’s child (adoption, partner’s offspring, etc).
- Family problems: your or your partner’s family putting strain on your relationship.
- Family planning: considering having or adopting children. surrogacy etc.
- Death and/or loss: when major life changes effect how the two of you relate to each other.
Is Dean for you?
For some, Dean was the ideal choice because of his 21 years of experience as a counsellor.
For others, it was his 13 years of working as a video counsellor.
For some it was his accredited registration with the National Counselling Society or simply the fact that he was a British counsellor working in a field sometimes infultrated by overseas counselling services.
For a number of younger gay male couples, it was Dean’s age (“we wanted a gay therapist who was older”), and for some lesbian couples it was Dean’s gender & sexual identification (“we experienced you as non-threatening”).
However you regard Dean’s experience, approach, age, regional accent (Yorkshire) or variable hair colour (currently “dark ash blond” 😁) you’ll be making the right decision for you and your intimate relationship.
How Therapy Works
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.
B) Our Core Work
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.
C) Ending Counselling
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 and they may leave counselling 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, and 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!).
A ‘Non-Expert’ Approach to Relationships.
As a fully qualified, professional and experienced couple and group counsellor Dean, remarkably, avoids taking on the role of a relationship “expert”. He does not advise the relationship how to tackle problems. He does not tell the relationship how they can do things better (“do these steps and all will be cured!”). He does not offer his book for sale (he doesn’t have one) that promises to reveal relationship secrets you didn’t know about.
Dean provides no instructions that if the relationship complies with then everything becomes well again!
No, instead, Dean’s approach to counselling uses a significantly more powerful and more sustainable resource: your own creativity and ability to problem-solve.
As you read this you might despair: “but if we could resolve our problems don’t you think we would have done that already?”
Indeed, but every relationship manages what comes within their perception or awareness. One of Dean’s skills is to assist couples and groups into noticing areas that are beyond their current perception (or what their psychological defences had allowed); they hadn’t been able to contemplate newer hypotheses about the relationship’s systems. With newer hypothesis comes newer information, and with that comes new possibilities and new options to tackle relationship problems.
So, it makes more sense now that – by avoiding taking an expert in relationships position – Dean’s therapeutic framework it empowers the couple or the group into effectively discovering and developing their own resolutions to their ongoing – and new – problems.
With Dean, relationships leave counselling independent of the therapist; no sense of needing to refer to Dean “oh we have another problem, how do we…?” in the future.
- Curiosity is encouraged (employing a bucket-load of therapeutic frameworks) – unpacking what’s central within arguments, conflicts and distrust bringing new knowledge to the relationship.
- New Knowledge brings new understanding to the intimate partners.
- New understanding fuels the development of new(er) relationship decisions (eg newer problem resolutions and/or conflict mitigation).
Effective Systemic / Psychodynamic Therapy.
As I talk about “couple” I also mean “partners within an intimate group”.
- Dean's primary client is the couple's relationship (not the two individuals in the relationship). Inexperienced counsellors - or those untrained in relationship work - miss this important aspect when trying to work with a couple.
- Dean's primary aim is to become redundant: the couple can end their counselling work without thinking that they've become dependant on a counsellor; nor feeling they will have to come back for 'top up' sessions in the future.
- The couple stay only for as long as it's helping: meaning they might come to counselling for just a handful of sessions, or may choose to stay longer, until the couple can work on their relationship's needs on their own (again). Dean does not set a compulsory minimum (or maximum) period.
- The couple work with just the one therapist: and Dean practices "neutrality" which means both members of the couple will be understood by a single therapist (no risk of multiple interpretations by multiple therapists in the room). Plus? the common factors that are underlying the couple's relationship problems can be understood and communicated back to them by a single couple counsellor as a single, consistent, understandable whole.
- Dean does not solve the couple's current relationship problems. Dean is not a "Relationship Expert", doesn't promote his services as being so, and doesn't claim to have solutions and answers for the couple. Instead, Dean focuses on assisting the couple to learn and understand their own problems so that they can address and resolve matters using their own solutions.
- The couple develop their own unique approach that can be helpful for years to come. Looking at the relationship's problems as if they are a symptom of a system that has become faulty (say, like a washing machine that works until it comes time to rinse). Understanding? and then amending? the relationship's behavioural-system can help the couple understand what's at the centre of their problems. With understanding, the couple can learn to manage & resolve not only current problems? but future ones too? for themselves.
- Dean involves & immerses the couple in the counselling, rather than operating as a pseudo-advice-giving consultant with-all-the-answers.
- Dean's couple counselling approach integrates effective systemic and psychodynamic approaches. Rather than using whatever is the latest fad in therapy, Dean successfully applies methods that have been tried and tested for a long time (30+ years: systemic, 100+ years: psychodynamic). This helps the couple (through curiosity, hypothesising & modelling) learn what's happening in their relationship and then helps them develop their own 'fault' resolving strategies.
- Unlike some couple therapists who respond to questions with 'answers' (whether such generic answers can actually apply to the couple's specific relationship), Dean empowers the couple into being able to answer their own questions by understanding & resolving their own relationship-conflicts. This helps the couple become independent of the counsellor.
- Boundaries are important: the session is contained within 50 (or 90, optional) minutes, weekly, in a safe room, with the same counsellor. For example, the couple always knows that they can open up (difficult) topics but not fear getting swept up into long arguments? because the session's end time is set.
- Future "top-up" sessions become unnecessary: the couple ends counselling when they don't need the counsellor any longer. Dean doesn't "fix" the relationship for the couple, he assists the couple in learning how to fix their own relationship problems together. Added bonus: the couple uses the same techniques to manage future difficulties. Once the couple feel that they are more capable at addressing their relationship problems together, they can begin to bring couple counselling to a close without having to come back for "top-up" sessions (as if they'd somehow run out!).
When Counselling Won’t Help.
Counselling is a service – it is not a cure which is done upon you, and it is not a form of prescription (“do these tasks and all will become well again”).
You and your partners(s) have to make use of the counselling process (a process which we develop together) for there to be lasting benefit.
The following situations may lean towards see the experience of relationship counselling being ineffective:-
- The relationship has been all-but destroyed / the partners have barely any regard for each other nor a willingness to work at reparation. Perhaps some relationships secretly seek counselling simply for someone they regard as a “professional” to pronounce time-of-death on the relationship; thus the partners are relieved of any further responsibility themselves to keep the relationship on life-support. Unfortunately, this can also lead some partner to “blame” (splitting/project upon) the counsellor for their relationship failing.
- The relationship struggles to grasp the concept of counselling; asking: “so how do we fix this?” repetitively without being able to take up the invitation to invest their own creativity nor curiosity into the process of discovery. The relationship wants to see the therapist as someone with bespoke solutions that the partnership simply enacts (see above about “non-expert”).
- The relationship wants the counsellor to fix their problems for them (they show little interest in working the problems themselves).
- One partner wants the counsellor to change their partner’s behaviour to suit their own beliefs (has little interest in taking part in the process to understand their partner’s position of point of view).
- A relationship where one or more partners has a hidden agenda (eg wants to leave the relationship, but will not speak about this), kept out of the counselling process.
- A relationship where there are mutually-exclusive opposing agendas (e.g. one partner wants to rescue the relationship, and the other wishes to leave) UNLESS the couple can entertain the idea of compromise, or who may consider discovering a common goal. Without a common goal, or honesty about having different agendas, a relationship remains unlikely to be helped by a counselling process.
- When one partner believes they are responsible for nothing going wrong in the relationship (being faultless), holding the argument that their partner is entirely at fault. Cannot entertain the concept that they will have contributed to the other partner’s behaviour in some way.
- When the partners are unable to entertain the others’ point of view (holding onto a position of blame: “it’s all your fault”).
- The partners spend the majority – or all – of the session unable to move out of arguing (declining or ignoring the counsellor’s intervention).
- Domestic Violence/Abuse – unless both partners wish to make changes to violent/aggressive physical and/or emotional behaviour.
- One partner comes into counselling “to help the other” (will not contribute to the work of the relationship). Relationship counselling involves all partners.
- When one partner was not informed about the other partner wanting to come to counselling (eg turns up on the day holding the idea that they don’t know why they’re there). Counselling requires the informed consent of all partners taking part.
LGBT/QIA+ Counsellor Dean Richardson MNCS(Accred/Reg)
You could choose any counsellor.
But… when you consider that this is the most intimate & vulnerable you're going to be with your partner(s), you'd want to choose someone you could trust with your relationship in therapy. Someone who is British (working remotely but on the same soil) and payable in pounds. Maybe even someone who already had 13 years actual experience of working on webcam with Zoom & Skype before the National Lockdown began.
- Someone who was sensitive and effective with you and your partner's sexuality / gender-identity and intimate ways of relating.
- Someone, who'll you discover quickly, is an informed member of your own community.
- Someone who demonstrates adept skills with lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, mixed sexuality and same-or-mixed gender relationships, but who avoids taking the role of an "all-knowing expert" (experts don't learn & respond, they tell!).
- Someone who speaks plain English (and who can swear like a virtuoso, along with you both as much as you might prefer - or not at all), and works cooperatively with the relationship (doesn't sit in unnecessary silence, or just "hmms..." repeatedly).
- Someone who is an accredited member of The National Counselling Society (accreditation originally awarded 12 years ago from another professional body, being a process that validates a counsellor's substantial experience and attention to an ethical practice) and who is a member of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Union of Great Britain.
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 - specifically those trained only in Individual Counselling - have such specific qualifications for working with couples nor groups, nor have experience of working therapeutically with relationships. Such counsellors try - out of perhaps misplaced goodwill - to employ ineffective "individual" techniques simply because your relationship is not part of their primary theoretical framework nor rationale. Remember always to ask a new counsellor: "what qualifies you to work with our relationship" and judge what you hear in response).
- 1 Why LGBT/QIA+ Couples & Groups use Counselling…
- 1.1 Same Sex Couples Counselling
- 1.2 Is Counselling for You
- 1.3 Is Dean for you?
- 1.4 How Therapy Works
- 1.5 A ‘Non-Expert’ Approach to Relationships.
- 1.6 Effective Systemic / Psychodynamic Therapy.
- 1.7 When Counselling Won’t Help.
- 1.8 LGBT/QIA+ Counsellor Dean Richardson MNCS(Accred/Reg)
- 1.9 Got a Question? Don't Hold Back…