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


What’s Your Relationship Dance?

The couple sit down and as she starts to talk, her husband looks away. He seems more interested in the books on my shelf. The more emotional and pleading she gets, the more withdrawn and shut down he gets. He says he wants the relationship to improve but he can’t handle her critical complaining. Why is it that this young man, who professes love, seems to withdraw emotional just at the moment his partner so deeply needs his love and reassurance? She looks back at me hurt and angry whilst he remains unmoved, withdrawn and determinedly casting his eye away from his distressed partner. What’s happening?

What we know, through years of research, is that we develop an internal model of operating within our relationships. This develops from the moment we are born. The amazing thing is that this template can be found across all cultures and nationalities. This template is your attachment style and there are three styles of operating. The ratio between these styles is also universal. Our attachment style is our relationship operating system. Depending on our template we all will operate in a similar style. When there is emotional anxiety we either withdraw, step forward or keep our emotional equilibrium. Once we understand this we start to make sense of how we operate within our relationships.

Attachment is my first love. Once we get a grasp of how this operates suddenly we are no longer polarised we are able to reduce the tension and start to feel connected. We suddenly are able to shape our relationships and are no longer captive to our internal emotional drive. Having a good relationship is the difference between thriving and just surviving! If your relationship sometimes feels like my couple’s then perhaps it would be a good time to think about your operating system. Discovering our unique attachment style can be a game changer.

Pam Custers is an experienced relationship therapist in Private practice in Wimbledon.
Working with individuals, couples and families
Specialising in Relationships and marriage counselling.

Are you lonely in your relationship?

Connection is the corner stone of all good relationships.I have worked with so many people who often sit in my room and talk about the fact that they are not particularly unhappy but they feel like they are living parallel lives. There is nothing as painful as feeling alone within a relationship.

Loneliness and isolation has the same impact on our lives and our longevity as being a heavy smoker according to research. Isolation fundamentally impacts our well-being. Feeling connected is the corner stone of being human. The moment we take our very first breath we are in a relationship with our mother or primary caretaker. We take our first breath and we are not looking for food but looking for connection. The way our needs are responded to develops our internal working model of the world. Those early years form a template by which we engage with our world and all our relationships through out our lives. That template is seen most keenly in our love relationships.

There are three main types of connecting (they are neither good nor bad simply different like the colour of our eyes) and whilst our partners or loved ones may temper our attachment style, in times of stress we revert back to type. Understanding our attachment style and how we make connections can be the mysterious key that unlocks our ability to connect. When we embrace the style that we have developed over time we are able to connect in a way that provides us with the nurturance our soul desires. Love becomes something that we experience because we feel heard and accepted the way we experience each other is open accessible and engaged.

Research has shown that our physiology changes when we have meaningful dialogue that allows us to feel connected. I am always blown away by how our sense of connection and love is transforming at such deep physiological level never mind psychological level.

This year lets open up ways to have meaningful connection. This can be with all our loved ones. Those connections can be cultivated in non romantic relationships too. So in essence I wish us all a truly connected year,

If you are curious about what attachment style you are stay connected. If you know someone who would like to know more about how relationships work. Please pass this on.

Help! My Partner Refuses to Come to Couples Counselling

Sometimes with the best will in the world our partner refuses to do couples therapy. You know that the time has come to make some changes as your relationship is in trouble. You have asked nicely, you have cajoled and still your partner wont budge.

There are a number of reasons they may not want to join you – too busy, tried it before and it didn’t work, they hope that things will just blow over or perhaps they cant see how a stranger can help. Before you start thinking you are sunk with no way out of your situation; there is another way and that is to go by yourself.

There is simply no upside to dragging a reluctant partner to therapy as the process can be easily derailed and sabotaged. It may be time for you to take back your power and start the process by yourself. Going alone does not say that you are the “problem” but it does say that you are prepared to do what ever it takes.

Relationship issues don’t belong to just one person but to “the relationship” which you both are equally responsible for. Deciding to get support is simply saying I am willing to make the first move. Taking personal responsibility may feel unbalanced but the extraordinary thing is that each little shift that you make will have an impact on your relationship system.

What we understand in systemic therapy is that any shift will make a shift in the whole. This is true for all systems wether it is an ecosystem or a flow diagram. So as you work towards supporting yourself in making healthy changes in our relationship so it will inevitably make changes with in your relationship as a whole. As you start relating differently so will your partner.

The key to success here is to choose a therapist who is trained in relationship work. It is vital that the therapist does not take sides but has the ability to think in terms of what is in the best interests of the relationship. One of the most powerful things to do is to reach out for support doing nothing simply means nothing will change.

Pam Custers is an experienced therapist working with individuals, couples and families. MABA (Psych) Hons and is a RELATE trained.

MBACP (accredited). Contact 07572 841 388,

Burn Out!

To be a good mother, partner, friend, work mate we must give, right?  We don’t just give a little we just keep giving and for many it is a mark of a good person. “It’s better to give than receive” as the adage goes. As women, we can be particularly bad at receiving.

There is no surprise that the emotional bank that gives but takes no deposits simply runs dry. I come across this on a daily basis where we over-give, and become emotionally and physically drained. We honestly find it hard to give ourselves permission to receive. The “have it all” mantra and being an overachieving superwoman is addictive. Over-working ourselves into a state of emotional and physical exhaustion is simply not smart. Giving to others is a good and loving act but giving of ourselves to the point of sacrificing our own happiness, health and wealth is not loving or healthy. It sets up a catalogue of self-destructive fall out.

So how can we shift our internal mindset to enable us to take care of our loved ones, the work we love and take care of ourselves too. One simple way is to embrace a slightly new take on life “It’s better to give and receive” If we give ourselves the time and energy that feeds our soul we can get off the track of self-sabotage and burn out. Perhaps you are ready to start putting back into your emotional bank and rediscover who you are in this world.

Pam Custers is an experienced therapist working with individuals, couples and families. Her clients are successful individuals who value her unique approach. She is accredited MBACP. MA. BA (Psych) Hons and is a RELATE trained and registered counsellor.

Contact 07572 841 388


Perfect Parenting

There is no such thing as the perfect parent. There I said it! Many of us strive for that goal which in its self is not a bad thing but not if it makes us feel like a failure. Children don’t need a super parent, nor the perfect version of you just you with all the imperfections. We can easily get trapped into thinking we have to be perfect at all times. We all have good and bad moments but the key is to know how do we get ourselves back on track when things go awry. There are a range of ways to get things back on track.
Key to good parenting is to model behaviour that we wish our children to have. If you don’t agree, brainstorm with your child different options to tackle the conundrum. Relax about saying the right or wrong thing, make an educated guess and if your little one has more info on the subject be happy about being enlightened. Make mistakes “Oops I interrupted you, sorry” Play with your children, relaxing and just allowing some free play will connect you with your child.
Be kind to yourself; you are learning as much as your children. Parenting is a moving feast if one set of parenting tips doesn’t work that’s ok try something else. If parenting is overwhelming you that’s ok, seeking help is not a sign of failure indeed it shows that you want to have a flourishing family.

Who would benefit from relationship therapy?

From the time we take our first breath we are relational in nature. Relationships are vital for our wellbeing and happiness. I work with all relationships including those that are seeking one. I work with people who are stressed anxious or isolated. Couples who are perhaps no longer communicating or are feeling like the relationship is falling into a rut or perhaps need to resolve bigger issues around infidelity, money or children. Families who are going through a divorce. When we are feeling good about our relationships we are able to manage life’s stresses better.

How rewarding is relationship therapy?

That is often a question in the minds of people who are about to start couple therapy. Starting therapy is daunting. Most comment how much calmer they feel after the first session. My role is to keep in mind what it is that the couple wish to achieve and from that point remain on the side of the relationship and which enables me to remain neutral, find the strengths and develop meaningful communication. The vast majority of my clients find the rewards are great and often remark that they wish they had come earlier.

What would you say is key to making a good relationship?

Gosh! Well how long have you got. I think key to having a healthy fulfilling relationship is having the ability to negotiate difference. What I mean by that is that often we are not very good about communicating nor negotiating our needs to be met. Our partners are often very different (and difference is good in a relationship) but we have often not got the skills to negotiate what is in the best interest for the relationship. People are often fearful that it will take huge shifts and changes to get a relationship back on track. In my experience it often requires small but important changes that make a big impact.

How do you work?

I work with clients at my practice in Wimbledon. I also run a very successful workshops for people who wish to enhance their emotional wellbeing.

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.

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!