Certificate in Couple Counselling

This one-year certificate course in couple counselling is delivered by the Institute of Family Therapy (IFT) commissioned by a consortium of Relate Centres; Relate London North West and Hertfordshire Relate London North East and Essex and Relate Mid Thames and Buckinghamshire.

The course is taught at Level 6/7 and is a gateway to Relate Registration, via our competency framework. Relate centres need to expand our practitioner workforce with suitably qualified Relate couple counsellors.

The course is based on a well-established accredited IFT course which has been tailored to train relationship therapists to work in Relate services.  The course is accredited by the Association for Family Therapy & Systemic Practice (AFT).

Course Participants will need to have a Clinical Placement agreed with a Relate Centre. Placements are on a volunteer basis and the number of hours working with clients may vary.

Students who commit to undertaking a second year of part time study in family counselling with IFT immediately following this course may be eligible for BACP accredited membership. This course alone is insufficient for BACP accredited membership.

The course will take place online by webcam using Zoom.  It runs over 17 days on alternate Tuesdays provisionally starting from 27th April 2021

The course fee is £2380  for 17 days (including materials, tutoring marking etc.). Limited bursaries may be available for people from under-represented communities.

Entry criteria: Minimum requirement is Level 3 certificate in counselling and listening skills or listening skills training and experience working with an organisation such as the Samaritans or ChildLine.

To apply please contact emma.winter@relatemtb.co.uk
Operations Manager, Relate Mid Thames and Bucks


1.What are the entry levels requirements for this training?
a. Minimum entry level: You will need a Level 3 Certificate in counselling and listening skills or counselling/listening skills training and it is desirable to have experience working with an organisation such as the Samaritans or Childline.

b. If you already have a counselling certificate at level 4 (with evidence of clinical placement) you can apply to this training.

c. Counselling is a relational activity, which depends on personal qualities, self-awareness and soft skills such as the ability to build a trusting relationship, work with difference and diversity and to convey empathetic understanding. These aspects are not included or assessed in most degree programmes (including psychology degrees) and have to be learned and developed in a very different learning context.

2.What are the criteria for a clinical placement within a Relate centre?
For the practice element of the training, you will need to have secured a student placement at a Relate Centre where you will be able to counsel couples and individuals on relationship issues. The clinical supervision will be provided by the Relate centre. The clinical supervisor needs to be registered on the Relate Practitioner Directory.

3.This is a ‘foundation’ certificate – what is the difference between this and a diploma?
The foundation status comes from the AFT (Association for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice) standards as this course is regarded as the 1st year of 4 year Systemic Psychotherapy training and therefore considered foundational, although this course will not carry the University credits. The difference between a foundation certificate and diploma is credit rating. Foundation is notionally 60 credits at level 6/7 and should be completed part time over 1 year. Diploma is notionally 120 credits at level 7 and completed either part time   over 2 years or full time over 1 year.

4.What are the options for further training?
On successful completion of the Foundation level course students can apply for the Intermediate level course which at IFT is called the Post Graduate Certificate in Systemic Practice with 2 parallel routes – Families or Couples/Child Focused Practice. Courses commence annually in October.

5.Who can do this training?
The intention is that this training will be suitable for students at different entry levels (i.e. both prospective Level 4 and 5 students) but not for already experienced couple counsellors.

This course is accredited by the Association for Family Therapy & Systemic Practice (AFT). The AFT accreditation applies to the course and not individual students although you will be able to say that you attended an AFT accredited course. The course does not lead to any individual accreditation, which is the case for anyone accessing AFT Foundation level training.

7.Seeing Clients
Foundation level courses as set out by the Association for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice are written to enable participants to use systemic ideals in their usual place of work and so have no facility to comment on readiness to practice.  This remains the responsibility of the Relate centre placement through the supervisory system.  It is good practice that you will have regular contact with your centre placement supervisor prior to starting the training, attending individual CSG (Case Discussion Groups) and individual supervision. You will decide with your supervisor at what point you are ready to start to see clients (around the 4th module).

8.Practice hours – how many hours do I have to do to complete the training?
The course requirement is 25 hours (detail in the course summary along with assessment details). Please note this requirement is for the training qualification, which sits alongside the Relate Competency Framework for adult relationship counsellors, which sets the standards for training and practice in centres.

9.Do I need a Relate clinical placement to do this training course?
Yes- see entry criterial below. You will need to have an offered Relate placement before completing the IFT training application form. This will involve having a face-to-face interview with the centre management and clinical supervisor.

10.How do I become an ‘experienced’ Relate counsellor?
You will be able to complete the Relate competency framework to achieve the certificate of proficiency and it varies from Relate centre to centre at what point you will be eligible for the local paid counsellor scheme. This information should be available at your interview.

11.Can I gain BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) registered status with this qualification?
BACP accredited membership requires counselling training that included at least 450 hours of tutor contact hours lasted at least two years (part-time). This course alone will not meet this criteria.

12.The cost?
The course fee is £2380 (for 17 days including materials, tutoring, marking etc.-please note that meals are not provided) Limited bursaries may be available for people from under-represented communities.

13.Where and when will the course take place
The course sessions will be by webcam using Zoom. If and when it is safe to do so, teaching sessions in person will be held at The Institute of Family Therapy at 1-4 Great Tower Street, London, EC3R 5AA). The course will run over 17 days usually on a Tuesday. The following dates in 2021/2022 have been provisionally planned for:

April:             27th

May:             11th, 25th

June:            8th, 22nd

July:              6th, 20th

August:         3rd

September:   7th, 21st

October:       5th, 19th

November:    2nd, 16th, 30th

December:    14th

January:        4th

There are two further days of Relate mandated training on Initial Assessment meetings and Domestic Violence & Abuse.

14.How do I apply for the training?
To express your interest email: emma.winter@relatemtb.co.uk and ask to attend our information session (Wednesday 13th January).  You will be sent a confirmation email and a Zoom link to access the session.

After the session you will be required to send your CV to Relate MTB. Selected applicants will then be invited for an interview late January/early February.

Successful applicants who are offered a placement will be given an application form to complete.

Each application will be sent to IFT for academic scrutiny before your place on the training is confirmed.