Individual & Relationship Counselling. Wimbledon - Kingston Upon Thames - Putney - Surbiton


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Good Relating in a Nutshell

It was towards the end of a session with a couple whose relationship had turned around, grown and found its Mojo. Occasional sessions are affirming, not only for them but for me. It keeps me ever mindful that working with people to make meaningful changes is very rewarding—if not life changing.

We were about to say goodbye when the woman asked  “What would you say is the most important thing to know before starting a marriage?” 

There are as many answers as their are relationships. If we go beyond love, respect and regard to something a little more gritty, it is the ability to embrace difference in a relationship. Not that we are different from our partnerthat is a givenbut how, as a couple, we negotiate that difference. Understanding how and more importantly why. 

“Negotiating difference!” I answered with a smile. They laughed knowingly.

The secret art of communication

“Help we might as well be talking different languages!”

“We just don’t communicate very well”

One section in my intake form is on communication. This is often the part that causes the most discussion.  Each person brings with them a different style of communication and it can often feel like our partner might as well be talking a different language!

If we start to feel like our partner is either not “hearing” or if we just can’t understand what our partner needs things can start to come adrift. Couples find ways to short circuit the tension by avoiding certain subjects or by simply not talking. This leads to feeling disconnected or isolated in the relationship. It is often at this stage that I find a couple sitting in front of me for couples counselling. “We feel like we are drifting apart”.

Communication is the cornerstone of every relationship. Surprisingly, whilst we live in a society that bombards us with multiple ways of communicating, we are not always very good at finding a way to be heard and have our needs met. We assume that our partner should simply know what it is that we need. I have sat with many a couple who has one partner saying “but I shouldn’t have to ask him, surely he should know what I want”. Well this is where it all goes wrong. None of us are mind readers and this crystal ball thinking leads us straight to feelings of resentment, disappointment and isolation. What holds us back from asking for our needs to be met?  Perhaps we believe that we have made our needs clear to our partners. Perhaps our partners are flaying around in the dark ever hopeful that they are fulfilling the needs they think they understand you have.

This is the very nub of the work we do. Truly coming to a co-created understanding of, not only how we meet each others needs but also that we find that which is in the best interests for the relationship. The process is about truly understanding each other, where do these needs come from and how can they be met whilst keeping in mind what it is that is in the best interests of the relationship. If we find a way of nurturing the relationship then we nurture ourselves.

So move aside Mystic Meg! Time for some communication that is truly meaningful and useful for your relationship, to meet everyone’s needs and so you can both start to talk the same language. The extraordinary thing is that it often only takes some small steps to turn a relationship into a truly connected one.

Pam Custers is an experienced relationship therapist in Private practice in Wimbledon. She works with individuals, couples and families. Her clients are successful individuals who value her unique approach.

How to save a relationship

I hold sessions with a couple whose relationship has turned around, grown and discovered its mojo. Their occasional sessions are affirming, not only for them but for me as well. It keeps me mindful that working with others to make meaningful changes is very rewarding – if not life changing. We were about to say goodbye when the woman asked: “What would you say is the most important thing to know before starting a marriage?”

There are as many answers as there are relationships. If we go beyond love and respect and look to something a little grittier, it is the ability to embrace difference in a relationship. Not that we are different from our partner – that is a given, More importantly we must consider how as a couple we approach those differences. We must understand how and more importantly why.

“Negotiating difference!” I answered with a smile. They laughed knowingly.

Mr or Ms Right… under your nose!

Online dating is a minefield of conflicting advice, unwanted advances and disappointment when Mr or Ms Right takes a long time to materialize. In an article I wrote for Digital Romance, I look at the illusions sold to us by the multi-billion pound industry that is called being single and dating, and offer some advice on how to reassess your route to finding Mr or Ms Right. Check it out here.

Self esteem: we all need it

In the June issue of Darling magazine, I tackled an important issue. Self esteem in children is vitally important, but evidence shows that focusing too much on making children feel good about themselves could actually jeopardize their future self confidence. The article can be found here.

What is relationship therapy?

In April 2014 I was invited to contribute an article to Darling magazine on relationship therapy, which you can find here within the online copy of the magazine. I am continuing my relationship with the magazine over the coming months so have a look out for my articles in upcoming issues!

Addictions

Addictions impact on both physical and psychological health. Symptoms of addictions may include depression, panic attacks, sleep disturbance, obsessive-compulsive traits, bad relationships and poor work performance.
Often what starts out as a social release can have dangerous consequences. The last place we expect to find this is when we are making choices during or after work.

The pressure that we face at work maybe so hard that we may just want some “down time” to escape the pressure at the end of the day. We may feel we have to work and play hard. This may take the form of a large glass of something wet or a line of cocaine. When does the letting the hair down all turn horribly wrong. Substances help us escape feelings of pressure and stress however they can become highly addictive.

Here are the “Alarm Bells” signal for addiction:

  • Needing more of a substance in order to achieve the desired effect.
  • Having strong feelings to use the substance in order to combat feelings of low mood, insomnia, anxiety, or even physical symptoms such as runny nose, shakes, headaches
  • Spending lots of time thinking about getting high/drunk.
  • Legal, financial, or emotional issues related to substance use.
  • Feeling powerless over the use of a substance.
  • Spending less time on activities that once were enjoyable.
  • Use of a substance despite the knowledge it is hurting you or others.
  • Using a substance in order to avoid or lessen the effects of withdrawal.

Does any of this sound familiar? Admitting you have a problem and that you may be addicted is the first step towards recovery. So what is the next step?

Talk! Speak to someone you trust such as your GP or a therapist who is experienced in helping people with substance abuse issues.
Act now! Addiction gets worse over time and can lead to family breakdowns, financial crises and sometimes death.