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About Counselling

Why Counselling is like Decorating a Room (An Analogy)

A question often asked of me is: “What is it like to be in counselling?”

A difficulty in answering such a question is that counselling (even couple or group counselling) can be quite an individual’s experience.

But I would suggest there are also some common experiences.

Let me “paint” an analogy for you 😉

When did you last decorate a room?

When did you last decorate a room in your home?

If you were not in the position of having an empty room to work with (e.g. moving into a new home, or had the capacity to move everything out of an existing room) then you had to move things around as you worked.

You might have had to cover some furniture with dust sheets.

You might have had to move some furniture out of the area in which you were working; often moving it in the way of other things or making it get in the way of the usual walk-way through the room. Things are now becoming awkward.

There was the preparation work: filling in cracks and smoothing over filler. Sanding. Noticing more flaws than you had before you started this work.

Then there was the decorating itself:  Perhaps you’re using wallpaper or using a roller to smooth emulsion over the walls. Each one can be quite messy as you try to get it right.

Then there was the errors during progress: wallpaper -paste accidentally spills onto the floor. Or the emulsion reveals damp-effected paint (causing “bubbling”).

Re-decorating a room can be chaotic!

Two steps forward, three steps back.

You might have regretted ever having started the project. Perhaps you felt like you wanted to give up.

Maybe at other times you might have seen progress, but then lost sight of it.

Sometimes you might have gained inspiration during the project: those lights would look far better at the other end of the room; the shelves you had planned would look better if they were divided in half and segmented across the corner wall (and so on).

Am I capturing the spirit of re-decorating a room for you?

Recovering from the finished work.

When finishing the decorating, and the paintwork is drying, and the wallpaper is staying up, we can start to put the room back together.

There may be pleasure in experiencing what you had achieved, after all the effort.

There may be some disappointment, that the finished product was nearly – but not totally – what you had wanted.

We might say the “injuries” experienced during the work began to heal after the work was completed.

The furniture was moved back into position.

Some of the new ideas we put in place began to work.

Finally, the room became something we could enjoy again.

Soon enough, we forget the old room and the new room integrated back into our lives.

There are no “professional” clients in counselling.

Sure, professional decorators won’t have many (if any) of the experiences I’ve described above.  But we amateur decorators often do… and as an analogy for counselling, there at not very many professional clients who go into counselling: we’re all amateur when we first go to see a counsellor.

An Analogy for Counselling.

As an analogy to counselling: the room we have spent time on altering is analogous to the person we want to improve upon during counselling.  The version of ourselves who exits counselling may not be one hundred percent the version we had hoped for when we went into counselling, but the parts of us that we wanted to look at, the life-experiences that we were having trouble managing, the flaws, cracks and faults discovered during counselling are repaired enough for us to begin to put aside the version of ourselves before counselling.

 

I often say that it takes courage to enter counselling.

Quite possible a similar courage needed when we amateur decorators have to tolerate our potential for destroying our old room completely, but enough confidence on hand to know that we’re creating a new one that we’ll be satisfied with.

 

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FAQ

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.