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


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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 The more emotional and pleading she gets, the more withdrawn and shut down he gets.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 She looks back at me hurt and angry whilst he remains unmoved, withdrawn and determinedly casting his eye away from his distressed partner.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.
Pam

Family Loyalty

Family loyalty is such a complex thing. Blood is thicker than water. Our family of origin is where we learn the many unwritten rules of how we relate. We can often hit a snag when we form our own families and new rules and loyalties need to be forged. Many years ago I met a women who felt her marriage was in tatters. It became clear that she had never been accepted by her mother in law and to compound matters her husband, in her eyes, never supported her. She was distraught. She had been married close on thirty years and this feeling of not having her husband’s loyalty had coloured her marriage.

Making the emotional transition from family of origin to our partners is a difficult step. When we are able to shift our primary relationship to our partner our ability to make joint decisions that are in the best interest of the new family become less fraught. It is heartening to see how a gentle shift and a release from the guilt of divided loyalties can reduce conflict so rapidly.

I still think of those thirty years that that woman lived in what felt like emotional purgatory and how sad that she left it so long. The emotional transition may not be easy as loyalties run deep. Our respective families of origin are the foundations on top of which we build our own family with its own rules and dynamics. The interesting thing is that in getting our priorities right we do not take anything away from any of the important relationships. They all just seem to fall into place.

Pam Custers

Relationship Therapist

www.pamcusters.co.uk

Looking for Couples Counselling? Two Important Questions to Ask  

So, you are experiencing some problems in your marriage and you have decided that it would be useful to have some couples counselling. This is may be a turning point in your relationship. Deciding on who you are happy to work with and can trust is imperative. Finding a well-trained and accredited therapist who has experience is key to the process being useful.

Therapists are trained to ask questions but here are some questions you need to ask. Is your therapist experienced and trained in couples counselling? Counsellors, sadly, are not all made equal and the term is not protected. Couples counselling is a complex process and requires specialist training in order not derail a relationship. Not all counsellors are trained specifically in relationship counselling. Ask how long the training took place (months or years) and was it general counselling or couples counselling. Relationship counselling takes several years and many hours of supervised training.

Is your counsellor accredited? This is not the same as a membership of an organisation.  Membership is often just having a yearly subscription and registration to do a counselling course. The key is the word ‘accredited’ (accred) which indicates that a rigorous process of examination has been successfully completed and compliance with a range of ethical procedures is well and truly in place.

So, before you launch yourself into a process that can either be the making or breaking of your most cherished relationship ask these two vital questions. Is your potential therapist accredited and how long was the training specifically in couples/relationship counselling?

I welcome you contacting me to have this important conversation so that you can make the right decision which will impact so significantly on your future.

Pam Custers is an experienced therapist working with individuals, couples and families. Accred MBACP. MA. BA (Psych) Hons and is a RELATE trained and registered counsellor. Contact 07572 841 388 www.pamcusters.co.uk