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

    The best piece of relationship advice

    Someone recently asked me what I thought was the best piece of relationship advice.

    I have one. But it needs to be hedged about a bit with disclaimers, because there are all kinds of different situations in relationships. If you have a partner who is, for example, abusive, addicted, unfaithful, or suffering from problems such as ADHD or depression, then that’s a different situation. I’m sure you can think of other situations where the following advice doesn’t apply!

    But in general, if you are unhappy with some aspects of your relationship, don’t assume it’s all about your partner. Assume it’s something about the way the two of you are interacting. Don’t assume that they are trying to annoy you, or don’t care about you. And especially don’t try to change them, because that rarely works, and usually just annoys them.

    Start by trying to figure out what you are doing that keeps the pattern going. It may be not so much what you say as how you say it. Make changes to yourself and see what happens. Try to change yourself in the direction of not getting caught up in whatever it is. Change your reactions. Don’t try to figure out your partner’s thoughts, feelings, motivations, or causes for how they got to be how they are, but focus on trying to understand your own. Don’t try to control or cure your partner. Do not ask for or accept promises to change from them.

    This doesn’t mean I’m saying it’s your fault. Quite the opposite. If you are blaming yourself, that’s part of the pattern that you need to change. Whatever “the problem” is, you need to stop participating in it, because that’s all you can do.

    If you succeed in distancing yourself from “the problem”, see whether you get a corresponding change from your partner. If they respond in turn, that’s good. If they don’t, it may be time for counselling, or thinking clearly about whether the relationship needs to end. If it ends, you will leave it with the benefit of knowing that you’ve grown and improved for whatever’s next, and that you gave it your best shot.

    I am nervous writing this, because no advice is ever applicable to every situation. Nevertheless, this applies to a lot of things I see.

    See more blog posts 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, “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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