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


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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

Taking charge of your Life just when you think your body is winning!

The menopause, the change, the pause, what ever you call it, it is a time to re-evaluate our lives. Hormones collide at a time of great change in our lives. Our children are starting to leave the nest, partners will now have a clear idea of their career trajectory and in turn what this means for your family and indeed for your life. The menopause can be the perfect storm! When life just seems to be at odds.

Some women experience this time as stressful. You may have a sense that you no longer know yourself like you did prior to the menopause. How you react will depend on a number of things including your health, your age, your identity, mental health and if you have achieved the things that you want to in your life.

Hormone changes may contribute to a depressed mood. We can swing from Joy to frustration and irritation in a blink of an eye. The debate continues if the menopause does causes depression but professionals agree that it effects mood. Understanding if depression or anxiety is due to menopause is a rather complex process.

If you are worrying about your mood, stress, anxiety or you wish to enjoy your life it may be useful to talk to a professional who can help you through this challenging process. You can reclaim your innate ability to re-calibrate your life and take charge of your happiness.

Pam Custers

Relationship Therapist
www.pamcusters.co.uk

Making Love Last

It is that time of year, the sun is shining and days are longer. My life is spent thinking, talking and researching love and what makes it last. I was fascinated to read John Gottman’s psychological research into what makes love last and the five indicators he identified. His work in his relationship lab is able to tell within 94% accuracy if a relationship will last or not.

So, what are these five areas and how can we cultivate and strengthen them in order to bolster the love?

Love lasts if we are able to relate tales that have warmth, affection and respect for each other. If we think and speak about our relationship with fondness and admiration we foster it.

Keeping the focus on “we” as opposed to “me”. Having a clear sense of being in this together and working as a team even if there are disagreements.

Truly knowing our partner. The trick here is keeping a real connection and understanding how our partner ticks. Being curious about what our partner thinks or feels about things keeps us connected.

All relationships face hardships along the way. Love thrives if they can be seen as a way in which a couple pulls together and over comes adversity.

Having a relationship that lives up to expectation or better still perhaps surpasses it in some ways, bodes well. Feeling satisfied and letting our partner know engenders love.

So, before you rush off to buy your card perhaps we could all look towards these five areas. Genuine fondness, making the relationship central, keeping connected, pulling together through tough times and feeling satisfied.

If you are struggling to keep the love alive take heart and know that if we take charge of our relationships we are able to turn things around. In my experience, small changes make all the difference.

Pam Custers

Relationship Therapist
www.pamcusters.co.uk

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.

Choose your counsellor wisely!

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 trust is imperative. Finding a well trained and accredited therapist who has experience is key to the process being useful.

Therapist are trained to ask questions but here are some questions you need to ask and why. 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 can derail a relationship if done by an inexperienced therapist. A week end work shop is not the same as a three year masters degree. Not all counsellors are trained specifically in relationship counselling. Ask how long the training took place months or years?

Is your counsellor accredited? This is not the same as a membership to an organisation indeed that can often just be a yearly subscription. Key is the word accredited (accred) which means a rigorous process of examination has been passed and compliance to a range of ethical procedures are 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. Are you accredited and how long was your training specifically in couples/relationship counselling.

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

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.

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.

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!