Portsmouth Couple Counselling

Couple’s Relationship Counselling with Dean Richardson is a non-religious, therapeutic intervention for relationships that are in distressing conflict.

The couple counselling process helps couples perturb their relationship’s behaviour sufficiently to open up space for inspiration, experimentation and new ways of relating.  It’s not just for intimate relationships, neither: it works just as well for platonic relationships (family members, business partners etc) too. The counselling model used is based on tried-and-tested systemic & psychodynamic therapy frameworks which have been around for decades (quite deliberately it isn’t a “latest” or a “trendy” approach to counselling).

Couples counselling also assists couples who are considering separating or ending their relationship, either before or during couples counselling.

No waiting lists – be seen for your first session within a week.

Couple Relationship Counselling.

Portsmouth Couple Relationship Counselling may be suitable for any relationship between two people that is in conflict. Initially we’ll meet in my Portsmouth/Southsea private practice to discuss the process and to learn if the process can be helpful for the couple.  If it cannot we’ll discuss other options and referrals.

Relationships that can be a candidate for couple relationship counselling:-

  • Marriage
  • Civil Partnerships.
  • Intimate Relationships made of hetero- homo- or mixed-orientation couples.
  • Platonic Professional / Business Partnerships.
  • Friends/room-mates/accommodation sharing etc.

… and you don’t even need to be a resident of Portsmouth … you both just have to be able to get to my practice in Southsea, Hampshire.

An Overview of the Counselling Process.

‘…the therapist does not impose normative (or other) views about couple functioning in general, nor about the specific solutions that might be acceptable to this couple in particular.  Instead the therapist maintains a stance of open-minded curiosity […] which leads to an exploration with the couple of the history and meanings of their current situation and of their previous attempted solutions and impasses.’ (Jones & Asen, 2000)

  • Couple meet together along with the counsellor weekly.
  • Identify and agree what should be the focus of the counselling work.
  • Learn about the relationship “system” … what’s happening in the way that the couple relates to each other.  Learn about what the couple believes is going wrong, learn about the disagreements.
  • Hypotheses – be curious towards what the couple thinks is making the relating system go astray (hypotheses are held lightly as they can change as more information about the relationship system is discovered).
  • What does each individual’s past history bring into the relationship.
  • State the obvious – the therapist helps the couple learn about their behaviour from the perspective of a neutral observer. This information may feed into the hypotheses.
  • Theorise on what triggers the system’s conflicts. Theorise on how the triggers can be changed / shifted / perturbed.

Continue the hypothesising, theorising and perturbing process upon the focus of the relationship until sufficient change comes into effect so that the counselling can conclude.

How to begin Couple Counselling.

Before counselling can begin, everyone must be able to make an informed decision on if couple counselling (with this counsellor) is an appropriate treatment.  We call this the assessment. I have broken down assessments for couples in the following way:

1) Meet with the Counsellor for an Initial session of 50 minutes.

This is a single session where:

  • introductions are made,
  • confidentiality is discussed,
  • the counsellor can discuss how he works with couples,
  • the couple can outline their relationship problems,
  • every can have an experience of how it might be like to work togehter in couple counselling.

If the couple and/or counsellor do not wish to continue working together, then no further sessions take place.

However, if the couple and counsellor agree to continue this introductory process … or are not quite sure … a further three sessions are recommended as follows:-

2) Continuing an Assessment for Couple Counselling.

In this section of the work, the couple is being helped to find the focus of couple counselling … what will be the core matter that the couple will be working on in therapy.

Session 2: one partner meets with the counsellor to discuss their perception of the relationship difficulties, his or her understanding of his or her partner’s perceptions, and to take a personal history.

Session 3: same as session 2 but with the other partner.

Session 4: couple and counsellor meet again to discuss everything that has been learned in the previous 3 sessions.  In this session we are trying to find matters at the root of the relationship problems.  Core matters that the couple may wish to address in couple counselling.

  • The couple will be helped in finding compromises and supported in disagreements.
  • We will try and break out of unhelpful blaming patterns.
  • We will negotiate what is … and what is not … to be focussed upon in therapy.
  • The couple will be helped by the counsellor’s insight into what he has learned about the couple, his experience training & qualifications.

Sometimes couples need more than one session to agree on the focus for couple counselling … this is perfectly normal.

Sometimes couples cannot be helped because they cannot break out of their conflicting positions … this too is perfectly normal.

3) Once the Focus is Found.

Once the focus for couple counselling is found, there’s a choice:

  1. Some couples choose to work on the found focus on their own.  They have no further need of counselling intervention.
  2. Some couples choose to work on the focus along with meeting with the counsellor weekly.

The counsellor will help the couple decided what’s best for them.

How can Relationship Counselling help?

Unbalancing the Relationship.

The counsellor’s role is to assist the couple in “unbalancing” their relationship.  A relationship that is in conflict is not a happy relationship.  By unbalancing how the couple relate to each other, speak to each other, think of each other, the couple are helped into looking at their relationship in different ways.

By finding differences, the couple can find their relationship again.  

It might be a new relationship and it might be a better relationship … but only the couple will decide that for themselves.

Relationship counselling uses systemic methods from Family Therapy to:-

  • Learn how the relationship’s system operates.
  • Become curious as to how conflicts come about (sometimes repeatedly).
  • Investigate how the relationship appears to choose a conflict over choosing a negotiated resolution.
  • Simplify communication so that important things “get through”!
  • Invite inspiration so as to make small changes that perturb the relationship’s system & breaks the conflicts.

Preparing for Separation.

Sometimes relationship conflicts can not be worked through.  This may be due to one or both partners simply not wishing to invest any longer in resolving the conflicts and wishing to move on.

Relationship Counselling can assist a couple in separating on amicable terms.

Arrange an appointment for Couples Counselling in Portsmouth.

See my appointments page for more information about meeting with me for counselling in Portsmouth and Southsea, Hampshire.

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