Mike Gray Couple Counselling for Kingston upon Thames and Surbiton

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Couples and Marriage Counsellor in Kingston upon Thames

Are you having problems in your relationship?

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...
  • disagreements over sex, or different levels of sexual desire
  • depression affecting the relationship
  • the "midlife crisis"
  • individuals having difficulties in forming successful relationships.

    Please contact me via the "Contact and FAQ" page if you have relationship problems like these.


  • Talking to a couples counsellor

    Sometimes a relationship problem becomes too hard to talk about. Perhaps when you try to discuss it, it blows up, or one partner simply refuses to have the conversation. This can be very frustrating. Talking to a couple counsellor, also known as relationship therapy or marriage guidance, can be a help in getting your conversation going again. It can be a relief to each be able to express your point of view safely. A relationship therapist will be non-judgemental and will not be trying to decide which of a couple is right, or who wins the argument. I often use the approach of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT for couples).

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

    I also often work with individuals on their relationship issues, like getting over a past relationship, or difficulties with confidence or assertiveness.

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


    Couple counselling in Kingston upon Thames

    I offer relationship / marriage counselling at Kingston Natural Health, on Old London Road in Kingston upon Thames. It's a few yards from the landmark "leaning-over phone boxes", and a short walk from Kingston railway station and the bus station. Conveniently located also to offer relationship therapy for Surbiton, Thames Ditton, Teddington, Raynes Park, Wimbledon, and Richmond.


    Depression

    Depression can be the cause of relationship problems, and vice-versa relationship problems can also cause depression. Life can be difficult for the partner of a person suffering from depression. And equally, sometimes the partner can, through no fault of their own, do things that don't help with the depression. A major study suggested that couple counselling with both partners attending could be as effective in dealing with one partner's depression as CBT or antidepressant tablets. It can also be very helpful in combination with antidepressants. The NHS has now adopted a model of using couple counselling as one way to treat depression, because of its proven effectiveness.

    The symptoms of depression in men are often different from those of women. Men who are depressed often suffer more from irritability, a loss of interest in things they used to engage with, a lack of concentration, forgetting things. There can also be physical symptoms such as back pain, digestive problems, or difficulty sleeping. Obviously these symptoms can apply to women too, but because men often don't have the persistent sadness, crying, or emptiness that's usually associated with depression in women, it can be harder to recognise.


    Latest blog post - "Boundaries"

    Many relationship books and counsellors will tell you that having clear boundaries is vital to any relationship. This is true. But the concept is often misunderstood.

    To start with, let’s imagine a workplace situation – imagine you find yourself working in a place where everyone swears a lot, and you really don’t like swearing. Maybe you gradually find yourself picking up their habits. That would be a lack of boundaries on your part – you’ve allowed yourself to be influenced. You’d need to think about whether swearing really matters to you or not, whether you are happy to “blend in”. If you are, then that’s fine. If not, then you need to have a boundary with yourself that you will not join in. You don’t have to tell them about it – you just have to be clear with yourself about your own values. And the same applies, whether the negative habit is swearing, drinking too much after work, eating chips every day, spiteful gossip, or having workplace affairs. You make your own decision what you will allow yourself to do, and stick to it. You don’t have to moralise to the other people about what they do.

    One of the purposes of this is to lay down a boundary, well in advance, that stops you gradually slipping by tiny steps to a place you never wanted to be. If you don’t make clear rules for yourself, you can gradually get into trouble without noticing it, by influence from another person or people, one step at a time.

    Ideally, setting a boundary should be like screening your own phone calls. Not like telling people not to call you. It’s not up to other people to enforce your boundaries. In many cases, you shouldn’t even be telling other people about your boundaries. You can’t tell your workplace colleagues not to swear – just don’t join in.

    However, there are also cases where you have to tell other people assertively to stop. If they are touching you in a way you don’t like, for example, or borrowing your things without asking. It’s your boundary because it’s your body or your spanners or whatever.

    Or it may be that you have boundaries with a relationship partner. For example, “I can’t be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t brush their teeth”. Notice that it’s “I can’t …”, not “you have to…”. You can’t tell someone what they have to do, but you can tell them what you can and can’t tolerate. It’s best to reserve this for serious matters. Anything else is better treated as a request or a negotiation. What can you live with, and what can’t you? You need to know, early on.


    See more blog posts on my Blog page. The previous post was "About the avoidant" - people who "don't do emotion".


    To men

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

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

    As I am a man, I am aware of these issues. 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 would recommend caution with these. Generally the people providing online advice are not trained marriage counsellors or therapists - 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.

    If you have a problem, such as an addiction or a medical problem that requires specialised treatment, I may be able to advise you on what kind of therapist to look for, or give you a referral to a counsellor in the Kingston / Surbiton area.


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

    Contact and FAQ page


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