When to get professional relationship advice


So, you’re not smoking, you’re drinking less, running more and generally on top of the world? Perhaps not. These are hard times, and making life changes is hard enough without the uncertainty and challenges of living through a pandemic, writes Honor Rhodes of Tavistock Relationships.

Perhaps you resolved to improve your relationship with your partner (and possibly they did the same). This is one of the hardest things to do as we often don’t know quite what to do. So many people end up searching online for ‘How can I improve my relationship?’, which leads to a welter of suggestions.

You can find anything from seven to 23 top tips, most focusing on improving communications, more listening and appreciative enquiry.

If these worked as well as they promise there would be no need for Tavistock Relationships. We see hundreds of people very day, as couples and as individuals are in pain and feel as if they have failed at something hugely important, particularly if they have children.

It doesn’t need to get this far, we can, all of us, take a moment to think about what is working well in our lives and relationships and what needs our urgent attention.

The best projects are co-designed so we need to involve our partners, hazard our thoughts bravely and be prepared for resistance, fear and anger. It may be that they are not in the same spot as we are and need some time to catch up, or persuade us that we are wrong – it cuts both ways.

All the top tips are essentially two things distilled – listen more and imagine what might be going on in the other person’s mind.

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Of course both these things are hard to do, especially in the heat of the moment and when we are feeling angry, hurt or low. Sometimes we need some help, and there is no shame in that at all. This is what therapy or counselling is for. It isn’t a luxury.

After all, if you were struggling with a back problem, you’d want to see someone who was a back expert. When we are struggling with big decisions about poor relationships at work or at home, emotions that are very uncomfortable to live with like grief, rage, betrayal or depression  – we should find a ‘mind’ expert.

Therapy and counselling give us a safe space to examine and understand where these feelings come from. Once we have a sense of that, what we can do flows from there. There is something deceptively simple and very kind about the idea that effective help can come from a series of conversations with a stranger. It works though, and it works for failed resolutions too.

We hope that conversations like these, from the City Wellbeing Centre, will help anyone who feels that 2021 should be a year where things change for the better. The City Wellbeing centre is a special place, supported by the City of London, providing accessible talking therapies to residents of the City of London and surrounding boroughs as well as workers based in EC1-EC5.

At the Centre you will be helped by therapists from Tavistock Relationships – an organisation with over 70 years’ experience of supporting individuals and couples with mental health concerns and relationship problems.

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