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:
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 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 - "Just give us some tools"
Just give us some tools!
Sometimes couples tell me that what they want are “tools” – they don’t want to go into all their “stuff” – previous relationships, childhood experiences, all that. They don’t want psychoanalysing, they just want to know how to stop arguing. They want advice, or some rules for good communication. I totally sympathise.
I generally follow a “brief” model of couple therapy, rather than a psychoanalytic approach. (I tried that and it didn’t work well for me.) I generally avoid spending a lot of time on people’s childhood history, unless they want to talk about it.
But here’s the good news / bad news. Most of the problems people have in relationships are patterns of behaviour that they go into, even though they don’t mean to. They go onto some kind of auto-pilot, and start doing their thing: shouting, harsh words, or stonewalling silence, placating, or drinking or eating, or disappearing into their phone. Whatever it is. The bad news is: the reasons for these knee-jerk unhelpful reactions are probably somewhere in the past. And the good news is: the best way to work on them is by working on them in a committed relationship here and now.
So yes, let’s work on the relationship in the here and now, not on what your parents did when you were growing up. That will mean looking at your auto-pilot reactions to your partner. But let’s not pretend this is just a matter of having “rules” and “tools” for how to handle disagreement between you. If I just give you instructions without engaging emotionally, you won’t know how to follow them. You may need to develop a bit, as a person. And the further good news is that this will benefit you in other areas of your life too.
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 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.