I want to Change our Counselling Arrangement

From time to time the need for changes may come up whilst you’re in counselling.

For example:

  • The appointment time may become difficult for you (or your partner in couple counselling).
  • You feel that you are ready to end counselling.
  • You wish to discuss alternative therapies.
  • Your financial circumstances have changed making counselling fees difficult to manage.

All matters of change are worth having a conversation about.

Sometimes what seems to be an obvious resolution to an obvious problem (e.g. changing an appointment time) can sometimes look quite different having discussed what’s going on around the need for change.  Sometimes the need for change is unavoidable and we can discuss how we manage change in as straightforward – and safe – way as possible.

Telling your counsellor you want to make a change…

It may sound surprising, but until your counsellor knows there’s a need to make a change, he/she can’t know what changes may need to be made.

Sometimes, a client doesn’t realise this; the counsellor may have seen so insightful before that realising the counsellor needs to be told of client’s needs and desires may not be obvious.

Discussing the needs for changes within counselling – with the counsellor – is a good first step to managing change in the therapeutic relationship.


What if I Miss a Counselling Session?

Missed sessions happen from time to time. Sometimes you cannot attend due to appointment clashes, sometimes a situation occurs that makes attending impossible, sometimes you might just simply have forgotten that we had an appointment.

If you need to cancel attending a session: simply contact me to let me know.  If we have an ongoing weekly agreement for counselling, or you are a member of a group, your next session will be available for you next week as usual.

Missed appointments & Fees.

If you miss a session without notice, your next planned session will still be available for you the following week (excluding any vacation or planned absences that either you or I have previously discussed & agreed upon, for up to a maximum of two missed sessions).  This is because of our contract to meet weekly.

Concerning fees, we will already have discussed this policy during our initial meetings:

  • The full session fee is payable if you cancel the session within forty-eight hours of the appointment time, or if you do not attend your session having given no prior notice of your absence. 
  • Half the session fee is payable if you cancel the session with more than 48 hours notice.
  • No fee is charged for the first four sessions that coincide with your planned holidays.
  • No fee is charged for my absences – planned or otherwise.
  • Bank holidays are not charged.

Unusual exceptions will be discussed in session.

Being Late for a Session.

If you are going to be late for a session, please try and come anyway.  For a planned session, I will always stay at our meeting location for the full session.  When you arrive we’ll make use of what time is available, though cannot extend the session time due to the next person’s appointment.

It might be helpful if you leave me a voice or email message if you’re going to be late but are on your way (I check both services before sessions – and during a session time if an expected-client does not appear without prior notice).

Repeated absences/lateness.

If you find you are repeatedly cancelling, or missing sessions, it will be worth us having a conversation about what might be happening for you (anxiety, needing to end counselling, feeling that the counselling is not holding you well etc).  This behaviour might be an unconscious communication that we both might find helpful to talk through with an air of interest and curiosity.


For clients who stop attending sessions and don’t tell me what’s happening (Does Not Attend, or “DNA”) – I will reserve your session for up to two missed appointments.  Afterwards, if I still have not heard from you, I will not reserve your session day & time and release it to become available for someone else.  I will also let you know that this is happening.

You can always contact me again to resume sessions in the future by contacting me. 


How Long is a Counselling Session?

Length of a Counselling Session.

Counselling sessions with Dean Richardson – both individual & couple counselling – face-to-face or Skype sessions – last for 50 minutes and occur weekly.

Couple Counselling sessions have the option to be extended to 90 minutes (prearranged) weekly.

Because each appointment time is reserved exclusively for a particular client, if you arrive late for your appointment our time cannot be extended to make up the the time. Similarly, if you arrive early the session will still begin at your appointment time.

Unlike many GPs, you won’t be kept waiting for your appointment to begin.

Length of a Group Session.

Group therapy sessions with Dean Richardson last for 90 minutes and occur weekly.

Because the group start together, if you are late you may or may not be allowed to join (depending on what the group has previously agreed about late starting).  The group always ends at the agreed ending time – is not extended for any reason.


How do I begin Counselling?

Beginning counselling in Portsmouth, Hampshire with Dean Richardson is straightforward.

It might help you to be aware that once you have arranged to meet for a first session with Dean (the ‘assessment’) you’re pretty much assured to begin counselling with him – should you choose to.  The assessment session is to ensure that the problems you present for counselling are matters which Dean and you can work with.  It is not to evaluate you to past a test that would allow you into therapy.

Dean takes on a limited number of simultaneous cases.  This is to ensure that you (or you and your partner, or the support group you may join) gets the best out of Dean as therapist.  Dean makes sure that he is not overworked by having a maximum number of cases at any one time during the week.  So, when you look on the front page for list of times Dean is available, you know that Dean is already available to take you on as a new case.

Individual or Couple Counselling.

  1. Take a look at Dean’s available appointments range.
  2. Contact with Dean – letting him know when you’d like to meet.
  3. Dean will return your contact to confirm – or offer another appointment time that’s near to your choice.
  4. You and Dean will meet for a counselling assessment to discuss your needs from counselling and to see if you and Dean both believe it will be beneficial for you to work together in therapy, or if maybe a referral to a colleague or another service might be a better choice.
  5. If there is nothing contraindicative to proceeding into counselling, you and Dean will arrange a weekly appointment (usually the same day, same time and same location as the assessment appointment).
  6. For individual counselling Dean and you meet together weekly for either a fixed number of sessions (see Brief Counselling), or until the issues you came into counselling for are worked through sufficiently for you and Dean to both recognise that the counselling is done.
  7. For couples counselling, you and your partner will meet with Dean until the issues you and your partner came to address have been sufficiently worked through for you all  to agree that the work is done.

Support Groups.

  1. Take a look at Dean’s available groups.
  2. Contact with Dean – letting him know which group you’re interested in joining.  Choose an appointment time from here to come for a meeting to discuss your needs from group therapy.
  3. Dean will return your contact to confirm your appointment time, or to offer one as near as possible to your choice.
  4. You and Dean will meet for a 50 minute talk to discuss your needs from a support group and to discuss if both you and Dean believe it will be beneficial for you, or if a referral to a colleague or another service might be appropriate.
  5. If you and Dean both agree about you joining a group, you both will arrange for you to be added either onto a waiting list to join a not-yet-meeting, or to be given a starting date to join an existing group. 
  6. Because some groups only accept new members when the membership quota has dropped below the maximum membership number, you may be waiting for your place in the group to become available.  You and Dean will look after your needs in the meantime either by arranging holding sessions with Dean, or by discussing other means to look after you whilst you wait.
  7. When your place in the group becomes available, you will be given your start date.