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...
  • disagreements over sex, or different levels of sexual desire
  • depression affecting the relationship
  • the "midlife crisis".

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


  • Talking to a couples counsellor

    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 counsellor 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). I aim to support change in a couple’s relationship which will promote growth for each of them. I am working with the couple’s interactions with each other, and with their children, families, and other social and work contact. 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 am not attempting to cure an illness.

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

    I also sometimes 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 - "The Drama Triangle"

    The Drama Triangle

    In this theory, there are three patterns of behaviour that people use to manage difficult feelings like guilt or anxiety. These three roles are victim, persecutor, and rescuer. These are stances that people can habitually fall into, like “playing the victim” (which is of course very different from being an actual victim of a crime or abuse). And these three roles complement each other, like masks in a drama. Each will seek to recruit other people into the other roles in their drama. You can’t do them without your other cast members.

    We will all have met people who habitually adopt the mask of victim, persecutor, or rescuer.

    What do they get out of it?
    - people who take the victim role hope to get immunity from blame. They may feel that something wrong has been done, and taking the victim stance means they can feel sure they won’t be held to blame. Look how sad they are.

    - people who take the persecutor role also hope to get immunity from blame! Because they can point the finger at someone other than themselves, and announce that they’ve found the villain! And, sometimes, they are going to hand out the punishment too. They get to control things. But they’ll call it self-protection. Look how angry they are.

    - and people who take the rescuer role, guess what? They also hope to get immunity from blame. Because they’re “helping”, they’re being good and unselfish. They don’t have to articulate their own needs; they focus on other people’s. Look how nice they are.

    These roles are adopted automatically, out of habit, without thinking.

    How do you get out of this drama? Step one is to notice what’s happening, and then act assertively. Easy to say, not so easy to do.

    People who play victim – need to ask for what they need clearly, without implying that if they’ve got problems it must be because someone else is to blame.

    People who play persecutor – need give up blaming. Stop using attack as the best form of defence. This may be the easiest one to give up.

    And people who play rescuer – need to to set clear boundaries. Stop with inappropriate advice-giving and helping. And especially stop hiding yourself.

    Note – these are not three “kinds of people”. The same person can often play all these different roles at different times or in different situations with different people.

    (Drama triangle originally invented by Stephen Karpman, in the field of “Transactional Analysis”)


    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? 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. There is also the Hold Me Tight marriage course available.

    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 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.


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

    Contact and FAQ page


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