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Agony aunts examine relationship issues with Tavistock Relationships

Published in Press Releases by Tavistock Relationships on April 28th 2023

Kate Thompson and Deidre Saunders

Tavistock Relationships, the charity helping individuals and couples to have better relationships, held a Relationship Support Workshop today (28 April 2023) with some of the nation’s leading agony aunts, to examine the most common relationship issues facing today’s couples, and how best they can be best supported to deal with them.

The event, held at Tavistock Relationships’ training centre on New Street in London, was attended by: the Sun newspaper’s agony aunt Sally Land; ITV This Morning’s agony aunt Deidre Saunders; ITV Daytime’s head of counselling Penny Jordan; and members of their counselling teams.

The workshop was led by Kate Thompson, Tavistock Relationships’ Joint Head of Clinical Services & Head of Couple Therapy for Depression, Projects and Business Development, and Velia Carruthers, the charity’s Training Team Leader for Couple Therapy for Depression.

Common relationship issues explored included:

  • Issues around communication and access to children when a couple separates, particularly when a new partner is introduced;
  • Mums struggling with all the pressures a baby brings, especially when she may have two or three other young children, when her partner is working long hours and comes home exhausted, and maybe doesn’t see it as his role to engage with a baby;
  • Different parental attitudes towards discipline – especially when the children have learning difficulties;
  • People not being able to cope when their partner has a serious health issue, or their child has special needs, and leaving the relationship - either by physically moving out or emotionally withdrawing;
  • Men and women in heterosexual relationships having gay affairs;
  • Agreeing and keeping to relationship guidelines around the amount of time spent on phones and social media, and conduct, including online sexual relationships; and
  • How to convince a reluctant partner to come for relationship counselling.

Kate Thompson, Tavistock Relationships’ Joint Head of Clinical Services & Head of Couple Therapy for Depression, Projects and Business Development, explains: “We were delighted to spend the day with Sally, Deidre, Penny and members of their counselling teams, examining some of the relationships issues they most commonly deal with, and working out the best advice to give to people in these often complex and distressing situations.

“We spent time looking at family relational patterns of intimacy and trauma and how these impact on the couple relationship, as well as the crucial life stages for a couple. And we looked at the best ways to explain how couple and individual therapy can help people in relationship distress.”

Sally Land, The Sun newspaper’s agony aunt, explains: “Relationships are complicated, with each individual bringing to the table a myriad of conscious and unconscious hopes and desires. The challenges that today’s couples face, particularly as a result of the pandemic and the cost of living crisis, often make things even harder. Gender roles and sexual identity, the influence of social media, the availability of sexual content on the internet, and the rise of polyamory and open relationships has meant that people are grappling with ever more questions about what it means to be in a good relationship.

“It can be extremely damaging to relationships, when parents struggle to navigate their own, as well as their children's, physical and mental health challenges. And with four in every 10 children not living with both their biological parents, many couples are dealing with the added challenge of co-parenting apart.

“We are very fortunate to be able to work with Kate and Velia to examine some of the most common relationship issues we are confronted with. This deeper consideration, will enable us to provide the very best and up-to-date advice to those contacting us for support and advice.”

Deidre Sanders, ITV This Morning’s agony aunt, says: “The make-up of families today is often very different from how it was in the past, but families remain the bedrock of support for most of us. Single-parent families, blended families and shrinking families are very normal now but, whatever the make-up of the family, its strength and ability to weather practical and emotional storms can have a crucial and positive impact on all the lives involved, and the future life chances of the children.

“Tavistock Relationships have been working with couples and families for 75 years, and are world-renowned for their research and training in couple therapy. All the agony aunts at The Sun and ITV This Morning have counselling qualifications, but we welcomed the opportunity to examine in depth some of the most common, but also complex relationship issues that we offer people advice on, with two of the leading psychotherapy trainers at Tavistock Relationships. This has provided fresh insight into how best to advise people coping with situations that are stressful, upsetting and often peculiar to the 21st century. We look forward to bringing today’s experience to our work in future.”

Find out more about Tavistock Relationships training, research and therapy services by visiting our website or call 020 7380 1960.


For more press information contact:

  • Paula Scott, PR Consultant T: 07932 740221 E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Notes for editors

Established in 1948, Tavistock Relationships is the charity helping individuals and couples to have better relationships. 

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