Our counsellors and sex therapists help over one million people every year and receive regular supervision and support throughout their training and practice. 

We offer excellent opportunities for personal growth and development, and provide further training for those who want to specialise in a particular form of counselling such as Relationship Counselling , Family CounsellingYoung People's CounsellingSex Therapy and supervision.

What makes a good counsellor?

People come to counselling from many different backgrounds. Counselling is often a second or third career, and life experience is highly valued.

To help you understand what being a counsellor is really like hear from some of our counsellors about what made them decide to start a career in counselling and what it’s like to work with clients.

Watch our counsellor stories

How do I become a counsellor?

You will need to complete a certain level of training to work as a counsellor in Relate. What training you need will depend on your current qualifications and experience. We’ve outlined the process according to your situation below.

I’m new to counselling

You don’t need any previous knowledge of counselling to train to be a Relate counsellor but what level of training you require will depend on the qualifications you have.

I have no GCSEs/O-levels – you will need to do a Level 2 introductory qualification. This course will give you a basic understanding of counselling and help you decide if you would like to proceed further with your training. Level 2 courses can be part-time or full time and you can do them at a local college or training centre or by distance learning.

I have at least one GCSE/O-level in Maths or English or an A/AS level – you will need to do a Level 3 counselling qualification. This course will introduce you to the three main theoretical approaches to counselling and shows you what you can expect from working with counselling agencies. Level 3 courses can be part-time or full time and you can do them at a local college or training centre or by distance learning.

I already have a degree, can I go straight to level 4 or 5?

The qualifications required as entry to the Relate Level 4 Introduction to Relationship Counselling course are a Level 2 Certificate in Counselling Skills or Level 3 Certificate in Counselling Studies. These qualifications are important as they are practical and counselling focused rather than academically or purely theoretically-focused.

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 empathic understanding. These aspects are not included or assessed in most degree programmes (including psychology degrees) and have to learned and developed in a very different learning context.

You will also be expected to have an individual interview at your chosen centre - counselling training is not suitable for everyone.

 If you have covered the above entry requirements in the degree you have studied, then you can start at level 4 but most degrees do not include the specific practical training in counselling skills, so you will need to start at level 3. 

I’ve completed my Level 3 counselling qualification

If you’ve already completed a Level 3 qualification, or a counselling/listening skills training and have experience working with an organisation such as the Samaritans or Childline, you can apply for the Level 4 Introduction to Relationship Counselling course through the Relate Academy. For the practise element of the training you will need to secure a student placement at a Relate Centre (or other approved placement) where you will be able to counsel couples on relationship issues. On your placement you will need to complete 30 hours supervised counselling practice.

Find out more about the Relate Level 4 Introduction to Relationship Counselling

I’ve completed my Level 4 (or above) counselling qualification

Once you have successfully completed the Relate Level 4 introduction to Relationship Counselling, you can progress to the Relate Level 5 Diploma in Relationship Counselling. If you already hold a Level 4 (or above) counselling qualification by another awarding body, which included clinical practice hours in your training, you can also apply for the Relate Level 5 Diploma in Relationship Counselling. For the practise element of the training you will need to secure a student placement at a Relate Centre (or other approved placement) where you will be able to counsel couples on relationship issues. On your placement you will need to complete 70 hours supervised counselling practice.

Find out more about the Relate Level 5 Diploma in Relationship Counselling

I’m a qualified counsellor at level 5 or above

We’ve recently changed our entry requirements to make it easier for externally qualified counsellors and practitioners to work for us across our different services. 

If you’re already qualified as a counsellor or practitioner (you have completed a Level 5 qualification or higher) you can apply to work at a Relate Centre.

View our current job vacancies

If your application is successful, the Centre will assess your qualifications and practice hours and if necessary, guide you through the Accreditation of Prior Experience and Learning (APEL) process. If the APEL process identifies further training needs we have Relational Modules of training that will be available. This will enable you to meet the competency requirements to work for Relate.

As a qualified counsellor or practitioner we offer further training to deliver in specialised service areas

Level 6 Diploma in Supervisory Practice

Accreditation of Prior Experience and Learning (APEL)

You must have both relevant qualifications and experience in order to apply for APEL. Experience must include supervised practice. APEL is  applicable for qualified counsellors/ therapist applying to work at a Relate Centre. Download more information about the APEL process and the application form below.

PDF iconAPEL process and FAQs

FileAPEL application form

PDF iconAccepted external trainings which are equivalent to Relate’s training

If you'd like to see a visual pathway for becoming a counsellor download our map below. 

PDF iconHow to become a Relate counsellor visual map

Find out more

Get in touch

If you have any questions about our training please email training@relate.org.uk