Relationship problems during Covid-19 isolation

Relate MTB is open for web-counselling during the Covid-19 restrictions and our team of professional counsellors have put together essential tips to support your relationships during the isolation period.

We are continuing to provide counselling sessions to couples, families and individuals using a secure and confidential online platform so do not hesitate to get in touch through the contact page on our website or by emailing 

Follow our Facebook page for more tips from our counsellors.

Advice from Relate MTB

Things were bad enough before! If your relationship was under strain already, understand that being together in the same home may bring problems to the surface. Our relationship counselling via webcam could help you work through things, email for more information and visit our website to find out about our services.

‘We can’t stop arguing!’ – if you have been arguing over a particular issue, consider calling a truce during this period to make living under one roof more bearable. The chances are you are spending a lot more time together than ever before and that can be an additional strain as well as a benefit. The National Relate website has tips on how to deal with arguments.

Feeling overwhelmed – these are really tough times and it is OK to feel overwhelmed, frightened for those you love and anxiety over what the future holds. Try to understand that you and your partner may have different worries and priorities. Set aside time for cosy and calm chats, agreeing that you can talk honestly about your worries, acknowledging that you each may have differing priorities at this time. Pick up the phone to supportive friends and family and share your feelings for mutual support.

Struggling to adapt to the new routine – whether you live alone, as a couple or with your children these strange times feel uncertain for everyone. Have an open discussion about how your new routine is working for each person, remembering to listen as well as to talk, and encourage each member of the household to have their say, without judgement or criticism. Agree to re-visit the discussion after a few days or a week. Taking your exercise separately can give you time to yourself.

Your new working environment – working alongside each other in close confinement, perhaps for the first time, can be an opportunity or a challenge. We may act differently in our normal work environment to the way we behave at home. Your hours might be different, so be careful to respect times when your partner is working and you are not. Discuss between you whether you prefer to assign one room as the ‘office’ or use separate rooms, keep the topic open and be flexible about trying different arrangements to find one that works well for you both.

A busy working-from-home office – if you have adult children working at home it can be quite eye-opening to witness their professional persona, an opportunity to find a new respect for them. Try not to eavesdrop if possible and avoid judging or criticising them in their work but do remember to express praise and admiration in general terms.

How are your juggling skills? Teacher, parent, worker, housekeeper, carer, cook! It is difficult to think of more stressful circumstances than at the present time. Every day we are expected to juggle so many demanding roles and all the while cooped up together and without external help. Don’t have unrealistic expectations, be flexible and be kind to each other. Share roles and tasks, build in breaks for yourselves and grab time to relax together when possible.

Keep communicating – don’t be afraid to talk about how you are feeling, to each other and to trusted friends and family. There is so much help available online from professionals who understand and can support us all in through this difficult time. The feedback from our clients who have now transferred to web-counselling is that their experience has been overwhelmingly positive. Email us at for more information and visit our website to find out about our services.

More tips from our counsellors will be shared on our Facebook page.

Support from councillors in South Bucks & Chilterns



Grants from South Bucks District Council and Chiltern District Council have supported local residents in accessing vital support over the last year.

Contributions from our Bursary Funding Scheme make up the difference between what local residents can afford to pay and the actual cost of delivering skilled relationship counselling to improve their emotional and mental well-being.

Chilterns District Council awarded a £1,400 grant and South Bucks £1,000 to support counselling costs for residents living within each area.

Fiona Greenfield, Centre Director, said: “Relationship counselling plays such an important role in strengthening individuals, families and therefore communities and we are grateful for the support that councillors and their grants teams in South Bucks and Chilterns have given not just this past year but over a number of years.

“In such uncertain times emotional and financial pressures increase, especially on the most vulnerable. Our counsellors provide crucial support, teaching lifelong skills that branch out into every area of people’s lives, improving personal, workplace and social relationships.”

For more information on the wide range of counselling services available visit



2020 update from Relate Mid Thames & Buckinghamshire

We are delighted to update you at the beginning of what is already becoming a very busy year and to thank you, as a valued supporter, on behalf of all our clients, counsellors, admin team and trustees, for your continuing help.

In a bustling 2019 we expanded not only the services we provide but also the locations where we offer them.

Welcoming the Edward Gostling Foundation to our Maidenhead office with Cllr Phil Haseler, our new Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead representative.

Particular highlights are being able to offer funded counselling for cancer patients, their partners and families – thanks to Macmillan Cancer Care in Buckinghamshire and to the Edward Gostling Foundation and Louis Baylis Charitable Trust in Berkshire, and to the specialist training provided for our counsellors by Macmillan. We continue to apply to local charitable organisations to support this important work.

We also won a contract to deliver part of the ‘Parenting Together Support Programme’ funded by the Department of Work & Pensions. Working in a consortium with two Relate London centres we deliver mentalization therapy to reduce parental conflict in unemployed and vulnerable families in the Bucks area.

We know how important it is to our clients, particularly those who are disadvantaged and vulnerable, to be able to access local counselling and so we are pleased to now offer new venues in Chalfont St Peter and at Chiltern Hills Academy in Chesham.

We have made a very a positive start to the year by welcoming four Relate student counsellors who have joined the centre on placement alongside their Institute of Family Therapy Relationship Counselling Training. We have also welcomed three new Trustees, including our new Treasurer, Michael.

In 2019 we were very grateful to receive donations from new funders, including the Rothschild Foundation, Edward Gostling Foundation and the WHSmith Community grant scheme. We are very appreciative of the continued support of the Louis Baylis Charitable Trust, Chiltern District Council, South Bucks District Council, Aylesbury Vale & District Council, Heart of Bucks Community Foundation, Macmillan and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.

Behind the scenes we once again passed the stringent BACP accreditation process and we have re-arranged our admin office to improve efficiency, the working environment of our Maidenhead admin team and counsellors and to improve our service to clients.

These improvements are helping us to manage the significant increase in demand for our services that we have seen in the past four months, fuelled by financial uncertainty and the emotional pressures of Christmas and New Year.

None of this would be possible without your support and in return we would be delighted to welcome you to visit us to hear more about our developing service and to fully appreciate the difference that your support makes.
Please email our Centre Director

Thank you again for your vital help in making such an important difference to our local communities and to the well-being of local people and families.


Janice Campbell, Chair, Relate MTB

January 2020




Rothschild Foundation supports counselling in Aylesbury

The Rothschild Foundation is helping families, couples and individuals in the Aylesbury area to have healthy, happy relationships by awarding a grant to Relate Mid Thames & Buckinghamshire’s local counselling service.

The £5,000 grant, continuing the philanthropic tradition of the Rothschild family, will support the charity’s professional counsellors to serve disadvantaged people within the local community, providing a high quality, reliable and confidential service for people who are feeling isolated and vulnerable.

In 2018-19 Relate MTB delivered 3,867 counselling sessions, supporting 1,715 people across the Buckinghamshire and East Berkshire area we serve. Of these, 842 appointments were held at our Aylesbury counselling centre, which is being supported by the Rothschild Foundation grant.

Relate MTB relies on charitable donations

Fiona Greenfield, Centre Director of Relate MTB, says: “We are very grateful to the Rothschild Foundation for their generous support. It means so much to us, as a small charity reliant on charitable grants, to have our local service acknowledged by such a well-respected organisation.

“We have operated in Aylesbury for several decades and we have in-depth knowledge of the pressures on relationships for local individuals, couples and families. Our wide-ranging and accessible counselling services teach life-long relationship and communication skills, supporting community cohesion and benefiting social welfare and wider society.”

Wide range of counselling to support local people

Relate MTB is based in Pebble Lane and offers a wide range of counselling for relationships, families, Armed Forces through the RAF Benevolent Fund, cancer patients through Macmillan Cancer Care, couple therapy for depression (IAPT) and psychosexual therapy. Our Bursary Funding Scheme can meet the difference between the cost of counselling sessions and the amount people are able to afford to pay.

In the past four months we have seen a significant increase in demand for counselling, fuelled by financial uncertainty and the pressures of Christmas and New Year on relationships.

If you know of a charitable organisation that would like to find out more about supporting Relate MTB, please email

Follow Relate MTB on Facebook

Louis Baylis Trust boosts counselling for local cancer patients

Relate MTB’s funded counselling for Berkshire cancer patients has been boosted by a £2,000 grant from the Louis Baylis Charitable Trust.

This specialist relationship and emotional counselling supports cancer patients, their partners and family through a stressful time, helping people to negotiate the emotional minefield of cancer treatment, filling a gap in psychological services.

Improving well-being and promoting recovery

Delivered by our counsellors who have received additional specialist training from Macmillan Nurses, sessions offer patients improved personal relationships, well-being and promote recovery. They provide psychological support to manage the difficulties and problems caused by illness and treatment, to come to terms with living with cancer, the impacts of treatment and life beyond cancer.

This comment from a recent client demonstrates the difference this counselling makes: “My six funded sessions have really helped me cope with my cancer diagnosis. I feel I have been able to process my thoughts and feelings in a safe environment. I’m not sure where I would be without these sessions but know I am in a better place because of them.”

Meeting the demand for specialist counselling

Fiona Greenfield, Centre Director at Relate MTB, says: “We are very grateful to The Louis Baylis Charitable Trust for granting £2,000 towards providing funded counselling for cancer patients in Berkshire. They join the Edward Gostling Foundation in supporting this vital, local service and we are in the process of applying to other local charitable organisations to ensure that we can continue to meet the demand”.

“Our clients referred during or after cancer treatment identify financial anxiety as an additional stress on their relationships during their treatment which is why we feel fully funding counselling is vital”.

How to refer

Patients can self-refer, by calling Relate MTB on 01628 625320; by emailing

or through our website contact page

CNSs (Clinical Nursing Specialists) can also send referrals to us using the same contact details.

One assessment appointment and up to five counselling sessions are covered, these are held in either Maidenhead or Windsor.

If you know of a charitable organisation that would like to find out more about supporting RelateMTB, please email

Follow RelateMTB on Facebook


Don’t Disappear – video to raise awareness of coercive control

On the 5th November 2019, The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) launched a video  ‘Don’t Disappear’ to raise awareness of relationship abuse.   This follows their ‘Know this isn’t Love’ campaign on coercive control from earlier in the year.  It was launched under the branding of Victims First.  Victims First supports victims and witnesses of crime across the Thames Valley and is managed by the OPCC.

‘Don’t Disappear’ tells the story of Jamie and Emma; from the seemingly loving early stages of their relationship, to the development of coercive and controlling behaviours such as jealousy and possessiveness, control, love bombing and isolation.

While anyone of any age can be a victim of coercive control, the video is targeted at younger people who have less relationship experience and people who are at the beginning of a relationship.  The aim of the video is to raise awareness of  the red flags – the early signs of coercive control which at the time, may be missed or misinterpreted as acceptable behaviour in a relationship, and where necessary signpost people to support.

The video can be viewed on YouTube

To view more information on the campaign, including the ‘Know this isn’t love’ materials please view the Victim’s First website here:

Don’t let the ghosts of Christmas past haunt your relationship this year

“The impact of Christmas on a relationship is massive,” warns a Relate MTB counsellor. “And with the Christmas build-up starting earlier every year the stress starts early too.”

As Christmas lights are switched on and our ‘to do’ lists grow longer, Relate MTB’s expert counsellors offer 5 easy tips to ensure that the ghosts of your Christmas past don’t ruin Christmas present.

Just like the three ghosts in Charles Dickens’ story A Christmas Carol, our counsellors have identified three potential pitfalls for couples – whether it is your first Christmas together or whether you need to bury the memories of disastrous festivities last Christmas, couples often have clashing hopes from Christmas, either repeating previous happy memories or avoiding past disasters.

  • Money – how much is it acceptable to spend and on what?
  • Families & friends – who do you each want to spend Christmas with, and for how long? Your expectations may differ and your in-laws might have different expectations too. This can be a notoriously tricky area for new couples, newly-weds and new parents.
  • Alcohol – too much Christmas cheer can cause Christmas misery, whether you or your partner over indulges or whether your guests’ or hosts’ drinking causes embarrassing, hurtful or violent behaviour.

The solution to all three is to start a conversation about Christmas early, says Relate MTB counsellor ‘Wendy’*.

“It always comes down to better communicating,” she says. “But make sure you start the conversation well in advance and tackle one issue at a time. Plans get locked down earlier than ever and then people can feel trapped.”

Relate MTB’s Top Tips for Christmas present:

  1. Never agree an arrangement until you have discussed it with your partner; never assume it is what you both want.
    Counsellor’s advice: A useful response to an invitation to spend Christmas Day is ‘That sounds really interesting, thanks for the invitation, let me check and get back to you’. This gives you time to discuss what you both want and to think of a strategy if you don’t want to accept. That might be ‘We would love to come to you at 4pm’ rather than committing to the whole day.
  2. Ask an open question. This is especially important for parents whose adult children are in a new relationship, newly-weds or new parents.

Counsellor’s advice: Instead of saying ‘Come and spend Christmas Day with us,’ ask ‘What would you like to do for Christmas this year?’ And suggest they talk it over and call you back later with a response. If you are going to reject an invitation, work out a kind strategy together. If you have always spent Christmas Day with your mum and dad or in-laws but would prefer to do your own thing, why not suggest a compromise this year leading up to a complete change next year?

  1. Discuss what makes Christmas special for you.

Counsellor’s advice: This should be your first conversation – the earlier the better. Is it about putting your feet up and not going anywhere? Or is it about going to as many parties as possible and seeing all your friends? Or perhaps spending time with family and having active days out? Who loves to welcome everyone around for food, drink and games and who wants to shut the front door and chill out? Discussing this early allows you to fulfil Christmas for both of you – even if it means building in some time apart to do your own thing.

  1. Agree a budget in advance.

Counsellor’s advice: Money can be a huge pressure, children have high expectations and we feel the need to spend a lot, regardless of whether we can afford to. It’s a common difference in couples for one to be a natural saver and the other a natural spender and that gets exacerbated at Christmas. Again, have a conversation early on about what you can afford, work out a strategy such as giving home-made presents to relatives and agreeing a limit on what you will spend on gifts for people. The secret is to talk about it before it becomes an area of conflict.

  1. Get out in the fresh air whatever the weather.

Counsellor’s advice: Something as simple as changing the setting can ease tensions. Unless you are working over Christmas, you are likely to be cooped up together 24/7, often with extra guests too, the kids are off school and all normal routine stops. It’s the worst time of year for weather, the days are short and it is easy to feel trapped so wrap up warm and take the whole family out for a long walk, whatever the weather.

Open, honest, non-judgmental conversations are the key to a happy relationship – and not just at Christmas time. Relate MTB provides a safe space with an expert relationship counsellor to talk about your feelings, your past experiences and how they affect you emotionally. Why not treat each other to a relationship MOT this Christmas? Visit  or call Relate MTB on 01628 625320 to make an appointment.

Edward Gostling Foundation Visit

Renu Ghale, Grants Manager and colleague Julie Stearn from the Edward Gostling Foundation visited Relate Mid Thames and Bucks at 4 Marlow Road Community centre to meet with Relate MTB Chair – Janice Campbell, Relate Counsellor – Petra Booth, Relate Centre Director – Fiona Greenfield and RBWM Councillor – Phil Haseler.

Edward Gostling has awarded a grant to Relate MTB to fund limited counselling sessions for Berkshire patients going through cancer.

see previous post for more details

Edward Gostling Foundation funds sessions for Berkshire cancer patients

Relate MTB is able to provide a limited number of funded counselling sessions for cancer patients in Berkshire thanks to a grant from The Edward Gostling Foundation (

Caroline Kendall, EGF’s Operations Director said:

“The Edward Gostling Foundation is delighted to support Relate MTB with a grant to help to support people with a diagnosis of cancer.  We believe that any person living with an illness / disability and their loved ones should be able to access the best possible care for their health and wellbeing”.

This counselling is available to people in Berkshire affected by a cancer diagnosis, and their loved ones, to help to navigate their relationships through the psychological and emotional impacts, improving health and well-being.

Patients can self-refer, by calling Relate MTB on 01628 625320; by emailing or through our website 
CNS’s (Clinical Nursing Specialists) can also send  referrals to us using the same contact details.

1 assessment appointment and up to 5 counselling sessions are covered, these are held in either Maidenhead or Windsor.

Impacts of cancer on relationships

Our experienced counsellors, who have had extra training in cancer awareness, can meet with you on your own, with your partner, or with other family members including children, parents or siblings to help you talk through:
• changes and problems with relationships because one of you has cancer
• difficulties talking to and supporting each other
• problems talking to children, or parents and other relatives about cancer
• challenges in getting ‘back to normal’, as a couple or family, when cancer treatment is finished
• the impact on intimacy and sex life resulting from surgery, treatment, altered body image, tiredness or anxiety.

One recent Relate MTB client, referred by her nurse after successful cancer treatment, said: “It has been the worst year of my life but I have conquered so much, I feel that I have come out the other end stronger than ever thanks to the counselling I received from Relate.”

Relate MTB is continuing to apply for grants to extend provision of this funded counselling so please email if know of any charitable organisations that may be able to help.