Mike Gray Couple Counsellingfor Kingston upon Thames and Surbiton

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Couples and Marriage Counsellor in Kingston upon Thames

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
  • an affair or infidelity
  • disagreements over parenting, over money, over in-laws...
  • arguments about nothing!
  • disagreements over sex, or different levels of sexual desire
  • depression affecting the relationship.

    Please check my "Contact, Availability, and Charges" page and contact me if you have relationship problems like these. (I am based in Kingston upon Thames, convenient for Surbiton, Thames Ditton, Teddington, Raynes Park, Wimbledon, and Richmond. But not face-to-face at the moment). 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.

    I also offer marriage preparation consulting, a popular service for couples who don't have major problems but want a "health check" when contemplating making a permanent commitment to each other ("tying the knot"). See this page.


  • Zoom and online couple counselling

    I see couples online for counselling using Zoom. I am finding that online counselling works well with couples.

    In order to do this, you need a quiet room where you will not be disturbed or overheard, with a laptop, tablet or computer with camera, browser and wi-fi internet connection. I do not recommend trying to do this on a phone. (You do not need to have a Zoom license.)

    The only condition where this will not work is if there is currently physical aggression between the couple.

    Please email me if you have questions or concerns regarding couple counselling online at this time.


    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. There is some advice about this on my Blog page. It's normal.

    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 work with individuals on relationship issues.

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


    Latest blog post

    Point-scoring

    Are you guilty of point-scoring? It’s a common problem that I see in couples. One or both partners has fallen into a destructive habit of trying to score a point, as if that might finally get their partner to change. Some people call them “zingers”. It can become almost a reflex, which is why in sessions I’m often trying to get people simply to slow down. This is not like ping-pong or tennis where you need to react lightning-fast with your “strongest” response!

    And the thing is, point-scoring doesn’t work! Nobody ever got their partner to be nicer by landing a good zinger on them. We love people who make us feel good about ourselves. (I believe I first saw it put that way by Ellen Wachtel). Some therapists theorise that we first learn this bad habit in our very early years: whatever worked to get mother’s attention. Maybe – I don’t really care where it came from. It has to stop.

    Part of what keeps it going may be a feeling that if you don’t respond instantly, then you won’t get your point in. That your partner will go on talking, or will assume you have accepted what they have said. And indeed, I see some partners who seem capable of going on talking almost for ever. Neither silence nor monologue is useful, so one of the few “communication skills” I want to emphasise is taking turns, which allows pausing before speaking.

    Another way this point-scoring happens is "you're not perfect either". One partner talks about something, and the other changes the subject by bringing up their own complaint in retaliation. Again, this never works!

    One of the main things I want to have happen in a session is for you to explain to your partner, not in a point-scoring way but in a real way, what the situation is like for you. Not what you think about it. But what is your struggle, what is your dilemma in the relationship? I can guide you in having that conversation.


    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.

    There are many marriage preparation courses available, and this is a good idea, but be aware that many of these are religion-based. Mine is not.


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

    Contact and availability page


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