When Relationships Break Down


Harry Dowling: Surrey Counsellor & Psychotherapist
Great Bookham, Leatherhead
near Dorking, Cobham, Epsom, Esher, Guildford, Woking, Fetcham, Effingham, Horsley, Clandon, Ripley, Send, Ashtead, Stoke d’Abernon & Horsham

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The Essential Need for Connection

We have a fundamental need of connection to others and of interaction with fellow humans. We need friendly exchanges with others, and the cooperation essential to daily life absolutely demands that we are willing and able to participate, to play our parts. Feeling ourselves to belong as essential members of partnerships, families, friendship groups, social networks and workplaces brings us encouragement and nourishment of the soul, and enables us in turn to contribute to human life.

When these essential bonds are weakened or break down, our isolation can bring discouragement, bitterness and despair.

In all our connections with other human beings our willingness to join in, to make common cause where possible, is constantly put to the test. There are many reasons why we might fail that test. We may have been poorly prepared by our upbringing for the work of cooperation. Or we may have lost sight of the fact that all relationships require ongoing investment and maintenance. In other words: our relationships may fail because we take them for granted. We may allow small grudges to accumulate until they seem to be enormous obstacles. We may fail to work as peacemakers and bridge-builders in our relationships.

A Marriage in Crisis

Peter and Jane in Dorking have been married for twelve years and have worked hard to establish their family. On the face of it they have been successful and their two children are well provided for. But the couple at the heart of this family are in danger of losing touch with each other, and material concerns seem to have become more important to them than their once passionate commitment to each other. Loyalty and perhaps inertia still hold them together but the relationship threatens to become a hollow shell.

A Power Struggle in a Partnership

James and Abigail in Cobham both had difficult childhoods and their love affair and partnership seemed to both of them to offer hope of a new beginning. Unfortunately unresolved problems from the past left them with attitudes and expectations that eventually undermined their trust. James seemed unable to overcome his need to control Abigail, and she in time sought to relieve these pressures through drink.

The Isolated Male

Fred in Epsom is now alone since his partner left him. While that relationship existed she took care of social contacts and arranged the activities of the pair. This allowed him in a sense to be carried along and lose the ability to make contacts on his own. It was not helped by the fact that even his work contacts were largely in the hands of his partner. Fred has no confidence now in his ability to initiate contacts, and is somewhat ashamed to ask for help. His lack of social activity increases his isolation. And his isolation reduces his horizon.

When you know that you cannot deal with the problem entirely on your own, or with the help of your family and friends, then you know that it is time to seek psychotherapy or counselling. You will find more about the help that I offer and how to contact me on my home page Surrey Counselling & Psychotherapy

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Photo of Harry Dowling who provides Counselling in Surrey

Harry Dowling
Adlerian Psychotherapist