Relationships matter and the quality of our closest relationships can have a significant impact on how we feel about ourselves, how we choose to live our lives and how we treat those around us. Relationship Counsellors offer couples a safe non-judgemental environment to communicate with one another, and identify any underlying issues that may be causing them to argue, or feel disconnected.
A Relationship Counsellor won’t offer couples advice, but they will listen, encourage partners to listen to each other, and ask questions that will help couples to explore their feelings further. Whilst the aim of the counselling is usually to help couples get back on track, sometimes it can also bring about the end of a relationship if one or both people in a pairing discover that they would actually be better off apart.
Couples seek counselling to work through a number of different problems, such as:
- Communication issues
- Trust Issues
- Sexual issues
- Issues within the family e.g. trouble accepting that one partner has a child from another relationship.
- Financial issues
Even if a Relationship Counsellor has strong opinions about how one or both of the people on the couple are behaving, they cannot express these, or side with either party. Instead, they must support and facilitate a couple’s communication, whilst remaining neutral.
During couple’s counselling sessions, a Relationship Counsellor might:
- Encourage both people in a couple to talk to one another openly about how they are feeling.
- Listen to and empathise with couples in an unbiased manner.
- Build trusting relationships so couples feel they have a safe place to open up.
- Steer the direction of conversation between partners – making sure that it’s as productive as possible, rather than just an excuse to have another argument.
- Agree an action plan with a couple during the first session – to determine realistic goals for what they want to achieve, both individually and as a partnership.
- Help couples to better understand their feelings and patterns of behaviour, so they can work out how it may be affecting their relationship.
- Support couples, both as individuals and as a pair, in making positive decisions going forward.
- Refer couples to other sources of help, where necessary.
- Liaise with other professionals such as GPs, hospital staff and community mental health teams when appropriate – always respecting patient confidentiality.
- Keep records of counselling sessions and couples’ progress.
- Suggest helpful tools and coping strategies that couples can use outside of counselling sessions.
Most Relationship Counsellors work with clients face-to-face, but sometimes there are opportunities to counsel couples online or over the phone.
What skills do I need?
The right person will:
- Have excellent communication skills.
- Be receptive to new ideas and prepared to commit to training – it is a skilled job.
- Be able to demonstrate patience and understanding.
- Be reliable and trustworthy.
- Be able to exercise discretion and respect patient confidentiality.
- Have a warm and approachable nature.
- Be a good listener.
- Be able to remain unbiased/neutral.
- Be able to keep their own personal issues separate from their relationship with the client.
- Look after themselves both mentally and physically, to prevent clients’ issues from becoming an unhealthy burden.
- Be non-judgemental and empathetic.
- Be self-aware, mature and stable.
Counselling can be an incredibly rewarding career path, but trying not to get caught up in others’ circumstances can be a challenge (especially if couples are in a real state of conflict), so having life experience under your belt can be a real bonus. Experienced individuals who have lived through life’s ups and downs, can often find it easier to empathise with others who are going through similar circumstances.
What will I love about the job?