How do Support Groups End?

This FAQ is about support groups.  For information on ending counselling – individual or couples click here.

Support Groups.

The type of ending will depend on the type of support group you are in:-

  • Open/Ongoing groups: group members depart when they have no longer a need for what the group offers. It can be helpful to the group and the individual if the individual first discusses their desire to leave the group before they actually do.  Subsequently, an ending date can be agreed giving the group and the departing member an opportunity to work through the ending and to say goodbye.
  • Closed/Fixed term groups: the group starts with a predefined set of objectives and group members that work for a set number of sessions or goal(s). The intention here is that all group members end at the same time.  Sometimes this is not possible and an individual is free to leave the group as they need to.  It can be helpful to the group and the individual if the individual first discusses their desire to leave the group before they actually do.

My Counselling Ethical Framework

BACP Ethical Framework.

Dean Richardson is a BACP Accredited Counsellor / Psychotherapist (explanation of qualifications).  I am a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). The accreditation means that the BACP have authenticated my substantial level of training and experience to be working as a counsellor / psychotherapist. Appropriately, my counselling work adheres to the BACP’s Ethical Framework (click to read BACP’s statement on Ethics for Counselling and Psychotherapy).

The BACP can suspend, deregister or remove accreditation from member counsellors/psychotherapists who fail to perform their work to the highest professional standards and/or who contravene the BACP’s Ethical Framework.

If you have a complaint or dissatisfaction about the therapeutic service I am providing for you, it may be helpful for you to you raise your concerns initially with me.  We will try and address the matters together.  If we cannot resolve the matter together then the BACP can provide help and assistance to you if you wish to take the complaint further (read more…).

BACP Address.

British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy,
BACP House,
15 St John’s Business Park,
LE17 4HB.

Tel: 01455 883300,
Fax: 01455 550243,
Minicom: 01455 550307,
Text: 01455 560606

FAQ Individuals

What Happens in Individual Counselling?

What Happens in the First Counselling Session.

The first session is called the assessment. Before you and I begin therapy, we must be sure:

  • Is therapy is right for you?
  • Is working with me and my style of therapy the right thing for you?
  • Do we both think that our working relationship could be good enough to work in therapy together?
  • Are there any mental issues that might make counselling difficult (or impossible) with me.

What Happens in Subsequent Counselling Sessions.

How it can help you.

You (and your partner if couples counselling) and I sit opposite each other, chairs at slightly an angle, and we have conversations. What we talk about is up to you, and what we discover during our conversations can be revealing, helpful, and life-transforming. Sometimes matters that are difficult to talk about with others can become easier to talk about with me. I don’t talk about our conversations with anyone else – so our therapeutic relationship becomes trustworthy.


What can Counselling Help with?

Whilst it would be unethical, and a breach of confidentiality to discuss individual cases and their details, I will give a list of the kinds of matters that I’ve worked with as a qualified therapist:-



  • Anxiety (feelings of panic or worry).
  • Aggression & Violence (acting out anger)
  • Anger (investigating triggers, managing responses, anger management etc).
  • Bereavement
  • Child parenting (male accused of fathering a child)
  • Depression
  • Despair (life feels worthless)
  • Disassociation (mental capacity impaired)
  • Drugs (recreational drugs)
  • Fear of Marriage (postponing engagement)



  • Gender identification (male-to-female & female-to-male)
  • Grief (difficulties in losing a loved one, time of year)
  • HIV
  • Homesickness / isolation.
  • Lesbian, Gay lifestyle issues
  • Life Changes
  • Life decisions (reviewing choices made earlier in life)
  • Loss (eg death, or loss of significance: career, home)
  • Parental responsibilities (eg learning about becoming a father)
  • Rape (assailant: male)



  • Rape (injured party: male)
  • Relationships
  • Retirement (life changes when a partner retires)
  • Self-harm (cutting, drinking, self-destruction)
  • Sexual aggression (acting out rage through sex)
  • Sexual identity/preferences (LGBT & questioning)
  • Sexual promiscuity
  • Suicidal attempts and thoughts.
  • Surviving a violent attack/accident.
  • Unemployment (being sacked, redundancy)
  • Unidentified sense of something being wrong
  • University/academic anxieties



FAQ Individuals

What is an Assessment for Counselling (Individuals)?

Before therapy commences in earnest, an individual is invited to an assessment.

An assessment allows the the individual to give an overview of their problems to the therapist, allows the therapist offers some helpful, information-gathering questions, and allows both the opportunity to discuss if they can work together to achieve the focus discovered in the assessment. 

During the assessment, the options of brief/time-limited counselling and open-ended counselling are considered and discussed by the therapist.

If the client and therapist agree not to proceed into therapy a referral may be made to another therapist.  Otherwise, counselling proceeds after the assessment.

Click for full details about assessments for individual counselling.


I need Paperwork Completing by my Counsellor

Confidentiality is vital to the counselling work and to our professional therapeutic relationship.  Even when a client believes that breaking that confidentiality might assist them in some way, I will still have a say on whether or not I will comply with the client giving their permission. 

Ideally, the client(s) and I will discuss such matters before the client(s) take such action.  Where no such discussion takes place, the client may wish to be aware that operate with certain boundaries in these matters:

  • Solicitors letter – If I receive a letter from a solicitor asking to give information on our case, I will – for reasons of protecting confidentiality – decline to comment on our case.  This will be so even if you give your authority for me to discuss our clinical work with a third party. Due to the paramount of the confidential nature of our therapeutic relationship I will not reveal any contents of our work, nor will I confirm nor deny if you have been in counselling with me.  It is important that a client is aware of my position in these matters as to assume that giving your permission to your solicitor for him/her to contact me may surprise you by my response if you are unaware of my position. If I am required to write a response to your solicitor I will make a charge for doing so – even when it is to decline to respond to the request for information about your therapy with me.
  • Attendance forms for a Student-of-Counselling‘s Therapy Hours – I will co-sign a form that you have prepared/completed that shows the number of sessions that you have attended.  I will not reveal any information about our counselling work.  Attendance forms that I am required to complete on your behalf (e.g. noting dates of your attendance)  I may agree to complete this with you after first discussing it with you, however  I will make a charge for completing the form and I will not reveal any information about the content of our work.
  • Sponsorship/application forms – if I am asked to co-sign a form on your behalf (e.g. housing application form) I will decline.
  • Summary of Sessions (eg Insurance) – Some insurance companies that fund counselling on your behalf may request that I summarise our work for them (eg a treatment plan, measurements & a written summary of each session – or an overview of the counselling work).  It is important that you are aware that I will decline to do this.
  • Receipt – if you require a receipt for your payment for counselling I will provide one that only shows your name, the amount the session cost, that the receipt is for counselling, and my name.
  • Most other letters and/of forms that you (or a third party on your behalf) ask of me will require a discussion between you and I before I make my decision, but I will still not break our agreement with respect to confidentiality.  Should I not invited to discuss this with you, my position will be to decline to give a response to any such requests.  My position is that I will not choose to break the confidentiality of our work.

Charges for completing forms.

Should we have discussed, and I have agreed, to complete forms as discussed within the boundaries above, my charge will be my standard hourly rate for the type of therapy offered to you – rounded up to the nearest hour.


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. 


What is a Counselling Contract?

A counselling contract (or counselling agreement) is a paper document that Dean Richardson will give you at the end of the first session. The document details what we have spoken about in the first session. It’s an ethical approach to help you make an informed decision about working with Dean in counselling.

It’s not unusual for anyone to find the first session with a counsellor contains quite a lot of information.

  • What does confidentiality mean.
  • What we can talk about in counselling.
  • When will we meet (and when we don’t – like holidays).
  • How will you pay.
  • What happens when you cancel a session (do you still pay the session fee).

… lots of information!

Having things to remember can be especially tough if the client is emotionally distressed.

As a counsellor, Dean will give a verbal overview of counselling arrangements, then give the details it printed form. We call the document a Counselling Contract.

Dean Richardson’s counselling contract includes:

  • An overview of the counselling – what sort of treatment is being offered to you.
  • Confidentiality – what it means in counselling and where the law may override confidentiality (and where is does not).
  • How long the counselling will last (if applicable).
  • How the counselling will end.
  • The counsellor’s qualifications, professional memberships, insurance information, and who you could go to to complain if you are not happy with the therapist.
  • Information about fees and how to pay.

  • Information about missed sessions (e.g. is the next session automatically available or do you have to book it with the counsellor).
  • How are your fees affected by missed sessions (when you do and do not have to pay).
  • Information about contacting the counsellor outside of session time.
  • Information about boundaries – such as if online/social network contact is appropriate or not outside of the counselling session.
  • When the sessions are held, how they are arranged (regularly, ad hoc, pre-arranged weekly etc).
  • Any fire alarm drills or procedures and other health and safety information.

… Dean will invite you to read through the document at home, and you and Dean will sign the document when you’ve make an informed decision to continue with counselling.

If you enter counselling with someone else, and the counsellor does not given you a written contract/agreement (or explain the arrangements), you can always ask for a copy of their contract or ask what the counsellors expects of you if you have not received one (including what if you have questions in the future).


What if I Don’t like my Counsellor?

Some clients find it very difficult to tell their therapist what they do not like. Whether it something about the person themselves, their style, something the therapist said in a previous session, something the therapist is not paying attention to that the client really needs to work on, and so on.

All counsellors intend to be as open and available as they can to their clients, and so they – as do I – would very much like to hear when a client is not very happy.  Sometimes our experience can tell us that something is wrong … sometimes we’re just plain human and we miss things.

It is very important – as part of our working therapeutic relationship – that you are able to feel that you can protest about something with me. After all, although this “something” may be happening between you and  I, it might also be an example of something that, if we were able to work through it together, might benefit you in your every day life.  Sometimes past difficulties raise themselves in order to be resolved for good.

Of course, sometimes disagreements, clashes and unhappiness simply cannot be resolved – no matter what good intentions both client and counsellor would like to have.

Sometimes a client simply stops coming to counselling, leaving no word why this is. Sometimes a client is able to find the courage to bring up what is bothering them with the counsellor themselves. Sometimes, moving to another counsellor is an option.

As your counsellor, I try to be attune to your needs, and as a human being sometimes I might be mistaken or I might miss something that is important to you. If I spot that something seems amiss, I will try and bring both our attentions to the matter (with delicately, of course, because I might be mistaken in what I thought I spotted).  I would invite you to feel welcome to bring our attentions to something on your mind too.