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".

    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 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.


    An alternative to counselling: the Hold Me Tight Course

    The Hold Me Tight Community Relationship/Marriage Course May-June 2019

    This well-established course is used all over the world, and runs once a year in Kingston. You could use it as a less expensive alternative to counselling, or as a first step to considering whether counselling might be for you. It is based on the same ideas that I use when I counsel couples.

    The Hold Me Tight marriage/relationship course is for every couple (together for more than 2 years) who want to take time out to strengthen and deepen their relationship. Running in Kingston for the third year, over seven Wednesday evenings May 8th-June 26th 2019 (half term break on May 29th).

    100% of participants – a total of 54 couples - in 2016, 2017 and 2018 said they would recommend this course to a friend.

    “Got far more than I imagined. There are places that I didn’t think I would go to, places that were buried, but journeying that together, I feel it has made us invincible!” Angie

    By the end of the course you will
    • Know the messages you need to hear from each other to thrive - and start communicating them!
    • See each other differently, with more tenderness.
    • Name the negative dialogues you fall into, and make them the enemy rather than each other
    • Understand the brain science behind our natural human need for love and belonging
    • Catch the ultra-fast emotional response when old 'stories' are replayed, identify what's going on, and learn to create shortcuts that bring you back into connection
    • See (and hopefully experience) the link between feeling 'there for each other', and satisfying sex

    The course uses a mixture of presentations by trained facilitators, video clips, and exercises that are designed for you to work through as a couple. Couples therapists help support the course and are available for conversations during the sessions if you request them.

    “It brought us back together and quite literally has saved our family” Zoe

    "Day to day we are much kinder and more emotionally considerate of each other. We are listening and 'hearing' each other for the first time in years. We are reminded of the reasons we fell in love in the first place. It feels like we have embarked on a life-changing journey that has breathed new life into our marriage" Helen


    Frequently Asked Questions

    What if our we're actually doing ok in our marriage? Is this for us? Great! Hold Me Tight is an approach which will further strengthen a strong relationship. You will learn new ways to reconnect after inevitable disconnections, a new language for 'reading' and understanding each other, and feel more open and tender.

    What if we're in a bad way? The Hold Me Tight course will also help move a shaky relationship onto stable ground. Research shows that when marriages fail, it's not increasing conflict that's the cause; it is decreasing affection and emotional connection. For couples who are counselled using this approach (which is based on Emotionally Focused Therapy), rigorous studies report that 70-75% recover from distress and are happy in their relationships. The results appear lasting. This might be a courageous first or next step to finding your feet again.

    You say there are counsellors there. I'm concerned that it's going to feel too much like ‘counselling' You will sit together as a couple, with no expectation that you will talk to anyone else all evening! You get to listen, and then start conversations and exercises with your partner. There are some opportunities to comment and reflect to the group, which can be a great chance to hear your own concerns reflected in others' relationships. There is no obligation to contribute in the group. The counsellors are there as a supportive presence and are available to contribute to your discussion if you choose. "If you don’t feel you need them, you won’t notice they are there. If you do speak to them, they are very fair and constructive."

    What if my partner wants to come to Hold Me Tight more than I do? It is quite common for us to have different perceptions of what is necessary for our relationship - in fact it’s one of the main dynamics we’ll discuss. This doesn’t in itself indicate different levels of commitment. If you’re the one who’s more reluctant, you’ll find this material is well structured to give voice to what you’re experiencing. That’s one of the reasons we think it works particularly well for the male partner - who is more frequently the one in this position (though this is only the case 70% of the time!).

    "Give it a go - it's not as scary as it sounds! It's helped re-energise us. Definite steps in the right direction"

    Contact: Kate/Julia on [email protected] to enquire or book your place for 2019


    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.

    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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