Mike Gray Couple Counsellingfor Kingston upon Thames and Surbiton

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Couples and Marriage Counsellor in Surbiton

Are you having problems in your relationship?

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Maybe your relationship isn’t everything it used to be. If you try to talk to your partner about it, they get angry, or refuse to discuss it because they think you’re trying to blame them. Or perhaps they are always trying to tell you how you need to be different. Sometimes you aren’t sure if the problem is you or them. Whatever the discussion is about (money, relatives, sex, children, work…) somehow it isn’t possible to have a sensible conversation. Maybe you feel lonely in this relationship.

I specialise in relationship therapy. I can help get things back on track.

I particularly work with people who are having relationship difficulties such as:

  • difficulties with communications
  • arguments or conflict
  • thinking about divorcing
  • an affair or infidelity
  • disagreements over parenting, over money, over in-laws...
  • arguments about nothing!

    Please check my "Contact, Availability, and Charges" page and contact me if you have relationship problems like these. (I am based in Surbiton, convenient for Kingston upon Thames, Thames Ditton, Raynes Park, Wimbledon, and Richmond.) We can set up a first session to understand what is going on. If after the first session, you decide not to proceed, I will not mind, and will happily refund the cost of that session. You have to find a counsellor that's right for you. Most of my work is on Zoom, but I do have some face to face sessions in Surbiton.

    Please feel free to contact me.

  • Talking to a couples counsellor

    Talking to a couple counsellor, also known as relationship therapy or marriage guidance, can help to get your conversation going again. It can be a relief to each be able to express your point of view safely. A relationship counsellor will be non-judgemental and will not be trying to decide which of a couple is right, or who wins the argument. Very often, one of the couple is more keen to do counselling than the other. This is normal. Again, please feel free to discuss it with me if this concerns you.

    I do not generally think of my clients in terms of having something wrong with them, but rather in terms of having got into a bad pattern of interaction. I often use the approach of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT for couples). EFT for couples is rated by the Society of Clinical Psychology as having "strong research support", the highest grade.

    If you are having problems, it is much better to address them sooner rather than later.

    I also offer individual work with men.

    See my "About" page for more about my approach.

    If you are on the brink of divorce

    If you or your spouse are considering divorce but are not completely sure that’s the best path, you have some tough decisions ahead. I have a short-term approach designed for this. It’s a chance to slow down, take a breath, and look at your options. It's for when one person is “leaning out” of the relationship—not sure that relationship counselling can help--and the other is more "leaning in”—that is, interested in the possibility of rebuilding the marriage in a better form.

    I can help each consider whether to try to restore your marriage to health, or move toward divorce, or take a time out and decide later. Those are basically the three most common possibilities. The goal is for you to gain clarity and confidence about a direction, based on a deeper understanding of your relationship and its possibilities for the future. To me each of those three possibilities is valid.

    The goal is not to solve your relationship problems, but to see if they are potentially solvable. You will each be treated with compassion and respect no matter how you are feeling about your marriage at the moment. No bad guys and good guys. We will try to understand what is happening, so that a choice can be made.

    You will attend as a couple but the most important work occurs in one-to-one conversations with me. Why? Because you are starting out from different places. I will respect the reasons for divorce while exploring the possibility of making a better marriage.
    I emphasise the importance of each of you seeing your own part in what is happening.

    Number of sessions is up to a maximum of 5. The first session is usually 2 hours and the subsequent are 1.5 or 2 hours, during which I will talk with each partner separately to hear their point of view.

    This (or any) couple counselling is not suited for the following situations:

    - When one spouse has already made a final decision to divorce
    - When one spouse is coercing the other to participate
    - When there is danger of domestic violence

    Latest blog post - how to make couple counselling work

    1. Often, people arrive for couple counselling quite anxious. That’s normal and understandable. And the effect is that they can’t really hear what their partner is saying, because they are inside their own head. And the purpose of the counselling, ultimately, is to hear what your partner is saying. But the anxious person is quite likely to keep interrupting their partner, or "spacing out" while their partner is speaking.

    This is caused by their anxiety, and one of the best ways to work with your own anxiety is progressive muscle relaxation. Google for “progressive muscle relaxation”. I recommend it, and it's free.

    Also avoid doing things that make your partner anxious, like interrupting them or raising your voice.

    2. Avoid mind-reading your partner. If someone tells me what their partner thinks, feels, or wants, I try to check immediately with the partner, “are they right about that?” Quite often, they are right, because they know their partner well. But I want to break up the habit of speaking for each other, and get them each to speak for themselves.

    This can take quite a lot of work, because it has become quite a strong habit. But again, you can’t hear what your partner is telling you if you think you already know what they are thinking and saying. The goal here is to understand your partner.

    If this is difficult, I can help steer you through it.

    You can find more short notes like this on my Blog page.

    To men

    Masculinity today is a puzzle: how are you supposed to be these days? Strong? Or emotional? Should you show your feelings? How can you be "emotionally supportive" in a masculine way?

    Have you perhaps looked at men’s web sites, or the book “No More Mr Nice Guy”?

    As I am a man, I am aware of these issues. I understand the problems that men face in relationships. As a couples counsellor I can help you with them, without trying to push you into a feminine way of dealing with them. Men and women often tend to have different ways of dealing with emotions and relationships.

    Other sources of support for couples

    Many good books on marriage and relationship problems are available - I particularly recommend those published by RELATE on topics such as infidelity.

    Internet Forums - there are quite a number of free marriage guidance forums and discussion groups on the internet where visitors advise each other about their relationship problems such as affairs and arguments. I recommend caution with these. Generally the people providing online advice are not trained marriage counsellors - they are other people having problems, so they often have quite a negative view, and urge people towards separation. Some forums advise almost everyone to divorce! Beware of this. Most relationship problems can be improved, if the partners want to. Most couples who think about divorce but don't, are glad later that they stayed together.

    Please go to the "Contact and availability" page to get in touch with me

    Contact and availability page

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