About Brief-Focal Counselling

When you need a brief solution, you’d choose Dean Richardson’s brief focal counselling. Brief counselling is a specialised, time-limited form of counselling that offers you a set number of sessions (discussed between you and Dean at the beginning). By being focussed upon a single, important subject, the counselling work becomes swift, concentrated … and budget-able. Brief psychodynamic counselling is not suitable for everyone but whether six sessions, twelve, or a number specific to your needs, Dean will help you decide if this can be a good therapy for you…

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Brief/Focal Counselling for Individuals.

Dean Richardson offers a form of counselling for individuals called brief/focal short-term psychodynamic counselling.

This counselling is a fixed number of sessions and is available for individuals only (click for couples counselling).

This brief approach to counselling can be beneficial to some clients with certain criteria (explained below).  It is important to understand that a time-limited/brief approach to counselling is not suitable for everyone and the assessment (at the start of counselling) will be helpful in deciding if brief counselling is in the client’s best interests.

How Brief/Focal Counselling can help.

Brief counselling can help with an individual who wishes to focus upon a clear, defined issue, in a limited amount of time.

The relationship between the client and counsellor must be good to be able to achieve this focussed work. Client and counsellor meet weekly for an agreed set number of sessions (agreed at the start of the work).  The structure of the work is the same as open-ended counselling (session lasts for fifty minutes, weekly, same time/location each week).  Because brief therapy work concentrates upon a specific matter the therapy aims not to expand into other subject matters.

What’s involved in Brief/Focal Counselling.

A short summary of Brief Counselling.

  • An agreed focus for the therapy work.
  • A fixed number of sessions.
  • Brief work must be suitable for the client’s needs before commencing.
  • Although other matters may come up during counselling, these matters may need to be put aside (at least for this contract).
  • The client and counsellor must be motivated and focussed to do this form of therapy.
  • The relationship between counsellor and client must be good to achieve this focussed work.

Benefits of Brief Counselling.

  • The therapy lasts for a certain “known” amount of time (and budget).
  • The end date of the therapy is known at the start (which can be helpful on the focus of the counselling).
  • The client is aware of how much money the counselling will cost.
  • Only a specific matter is worked with, agreed between counsellor and client upfront.
  • It can be useful to be able to measure the outcome of the counselling (discussed & agreed upfront), although this is in no way essential or compulsory,
  • The rapport between client and counsellor is good, and therapeutically reliable (the client having had at least one beneficial relationship in their life).
  • Uses client’s own insight into their problem,
  • Works if the area of conflict can be agreed upon.

When Brief/Focal Counselling is not Suitable.

The counsellor is responsible for judging during the assessment if the client is suitable for brief therapy or if such therapy may cause harm to the client (eg based upon the client’s level of functioning) when, instead, the counsellor may offer other forms of therapy (such as open-ended counselling). Other counter-indications for brief counselling may include:

  • The client is unable to focus adequately on one matter, instead requiring the time and space to make use of free association.
  • The client is unmotivated to focus on a particular matter within the limited amount of time.
  • It is felt by the client and/or counsellor that the client’s needs would not be adequately met by focussing upon just one matter.
  • When setting a deadline to a psychological or emotional matter would be inappropriate (eg the client is motivated to select short-term work only because of costs or due to an EAP offering only of a fixed number of sessions, when the client’s needs are greater than that offered & beyond the therapeutic interventions available).
  • The client’s ability or potential for insight is limited (insight = a kind of self-realization or self-knowledge).
  • The client may be dependant on the counsellor for providing solutions, rather than be motivated to be an active participant in their own therapy.
  • From a psychodynamic point of view, the client’s defence mechanisms and resistance are too high/too ingrained to invite self-change during brief therapy.

What to do Now…

If you are interested in brief psychodynamic counselling, contact Dean Richardson to make an appointment for an assessment.


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Other sites of interest: Counselling via Skype, Online Zoom Counselling, Havant Counselling & Counselling for LGBT Couples