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.

    I also offer marriage preparation consulting, a popular service for couples who don't have major problems but want a "health check" when contemplating making a permanent commitment to each other ("tying the knot"). See this page.

    Please contact me via the "Contact and FAQ" page 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 obviously not 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.

  • Zoom and online couple counselling

    I see couples online for counselling by webcam using Zoom. I am finding that online counselling is working well with couples.

    In order to do this, you need a quiet room where you will not be disturbed or overheard, with a laptop, tablet or computer with camera, browser and wi-fi internet connection. I do not recommend trying to do this on a phone. (You do not need to have a Zoom license.)

    The only condition where this will not work is if there is currently physical aggression between the couple.

    Please email me if you have questions or concerns regarding couple counselling online at this time.

    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. There is some advice about this on my Blog page. It's normal.

    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 on relationship issues.

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

    Latest blog post - "Not about the nail"

    "It's not about the nail!"
    You may have seen this. It's a short comedy sketch, less than 2 minutes, on Youtube. It's interesting to me, because the gist of it is a couple where the woman has a problem; the man suggests a solution (which would work); and the woman tells him not to try and solve it, just to empathise. It's actually not clear whose "side" the film is on. It's pleasingly ambiguous, in my opinion.

    And this comes up all the time in relationship counselling. She brings him a problem; she tells him to just listen, not to solve it; and he finds that very frustrating. Why bring it up if you don't want it solved? He has feelings, and for him, to be put in this position is literally painful. And at the same time, it's equally painful to her to be told that her problem can easily be solved. The film slants this because, as I said, they choose a problem where it's obvious to us, the viewers, that in this case the solution he's suggesting is the right one. That's not usually how it goes. And by the way, this is not really gender-specific. I'm using the "man" and "woman" in the film, but it can happen just the same the other way around or in a same-sex couple. Or indeed between a parent and a child.

    What's her motivation for telling him? Maybe she's one of those people who solves their problems by talking about them to someone else. They just need a listener. Or, maybe she wants him to be aware of what's going on in her life and why she's tense. Or, maybe she's someone who likes always to be "suffering" in some way, so as to get sympathy. It can be any of those, or a mixture. And what's his motivation for proffering solutions? Maybe it's a bit show-offy: "I can see the solution and you can't". Maybe he just wants her to be happy, and thinks that's achieved by solving problems. Maybe it's painful for him to listen to her distress and empathise. And maybe either or both of them played similar roles to these in their families, growing up. There's a lot in that 1 minute and 40 seconds of film.

    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 FAQ" page to get in touch with me

    Contact and FAQ page

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