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...
  • arguments about nothing!
  • disagreements over sex, or different levels of sexual desire
  • depression affecting the relationship.

    Please check my "Contact, Availability, and Charges" page and contact me if you have relationship problems like these. (I am based in Kingston upon Thames, convenient for Surbiton, Thames Ditton, Teddington, Raynes Park, Wimbledon, and Richmond. But not face-to-face at the moment). We can set up a first session to understand what is going on. If after the first session, you decide not to proceed, I will not mind, and will happily refund the cost of that session. You have to find a counsellor that's right for you.

    At the moment, I am working only via Zoom online. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions about how well this works and when it's not suitable.

  • Talking to a couples counsellor

    Talking to a couple counsellor, also known as relationship therapy or marriage guidance, can help to get 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. Very often, one of the couple is more keen to do counselling than the other. This is normal. Again, please feel free to discuss it with me if this concerns you.

    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 often use the approach of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT for couples). EFT for couples is rated by the Society of Clinical Psychology as having "strong research support", the highest grade.

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

    I also work with individuals.

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

    Latest blog post - Slow down

    One of the old clichés of couple counselling is “I-statements”. That is, making statements about yourself, starting with “I”, instead of statements about your partner. It’s a helpful practice. For example instead of saying “you left the cupboard door open”, say “it really bothers me when the cupboard door is left open”. (Note that the second one doesn’t say “…when YOU leave…”.) It’s not a difficult improvement to make.

    But now, let me turn to the other side of it. If your partner makes a request, or even a complaint, try to hear it as an I-statement (even if it isn’t!) Don’t make it about you. Don’t look for criticism or attack in things that are said to you. So when your partner says “you left the cupboard door open”, try to hear it as “I don’t like it when the cupboard door is left open”. Then you can pause for a couple of seconds, and say “you’re right – tell me more about how you don’t like that”.

    In other words, treat it as them telling you something about themselves, not something about you.

    The essence of this is to slow down. Not to fire back an instant reply. Just take a breath and slow down.

    There are two important skills to learn:
    (1) Talk about yourself. Say what you have to say, briefly, and then stop. Don’t keep adding more, giving additional details, or “and another thing”. Thirty seconds should be plenty.
    (2) Other person: listen, and don’t interrupt. Then pause. Then acknowledge what has been said. Don’t assume it’s about you. Don’t try to rebut it or correct it.

    If this is difficult, I can help steer you through it.

    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? Should you show your feelings? 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 recommend caution with these. Generally the people providing online advice are not trained marriage counsellors - 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.

    There are many marriage preparation courses available, and this is a good idea, but be aware that many of these are religion-based. Mine is not.

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

    Contact and availability page

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