It's normal to have questions when you're considering counselling. Here are some answers to some of the most frequent queries we receive.


Do you need a referral to access our services?

No, you don't need a referral from a GP to access our services.

How much do we charge?

Each of our local Centres sets their own prices, so the best thing to do is to check with your local Centre.

Do we offer affordable counselling for people on low incomes or benefits?

We want to support everyone who comes to us for help. That's why many of our local Relate Centres offer reduced rates depending on your income or if you're receiving benefits. Contact your local Centre to find out the best option for you.

Do we see people in LGBTQ+ relationships?

Absolutely! We welcome everyone regardless of how they identify in terms of sexuality and gender. 

Do our counsellors get special training?

All of our counsellors are specially trained in relationship counselling. That means it takes two to three years to become a fully qualified counsellor with us. If counsellors wish to specialise in areas like Family Counselling or Sex Therapy then there's additional training required for that too.

But the training doesn't stop there. All of our counsellors continue with ongoing training and consultation with other professionals, which we call continuing professional development or CPD, to ensure they're prepared to offer the highest standard of help.

What happens when you first meet your counsellor?

We want everyone who visits us to get the most effective support available. That's why your first visit with a counsellor will generally be about deciding together if we are best placed to give you the support you need or whether somewhere else might be more appropriate.

We have different ways of doing this depending on the kind of counselling you're coming for. For instance, if you're coming for relationship counselling we'll ask to see all those in the relationship individually as well as together before deciding on the way forward. We call this an initial assessment. This means that if you're in a couple, it will generally take three sessions (two individually and one together) to complete your initial assessment. In family counselling, however, your counsellor will explore how it's best to get everyone's thoughts before suggesting ongoing family counselling with us.

It might seem drawn out or complicated, but our only aim is to ensure we don't waste your time and that you get the support that's right for you.

Can you bring your kids to a session?

If you're coming to us for relationship counselling, sex therapy or mediation then no, you can't bring your kids along. As most of our Centres don't have childcare facilities it's best to make arrangements for your children to be looked after during your appointment. If this is a struggle, many of our Centres offer online appointments from your home which might make things easier.

If you're coming to family counselling, then it's a different story. Often family counselling involves both parents and children and your therapist might invite you to bring your kids along in that instance. It's always best to double check this information with your Local Centre ahead of your appointment in case they do things slightly differently from the norm. 

What do you do if you have a complaint about any of our services?

We always do our best to help and give you a good experience, but sometimes we don't get it right. If you have a concern or would like to make a formal complaint, please check our complaints procedure. This will guide you through the steps you need to take.

What is our cancellation policy?

Each Centre has its own cancellation policy that should be explained to you when you book into an appointment. If you're not sure or can't remember what the policy is at your Local Centre, just visit our find your nearest page to find out.

What steps do we take to protect your data?

Please read our privacy and cookie policy and our terms and conditions. These pages outline how (and why) we collect and process your personal information and keep it safe. If you have any questions about this, please email GDPR@relate.org.uk. 

Relationship counselling

How long does a counselling session last?

Generally about an hour.

Can counselling help with separation?

Yes! Counselling is a very effective way of talking through and negotiating a separation or a divorce. It can help you process any of the tough emotions you might be struggling to deal with, and bring the relationship to an end with as little pain or misunderstanding as possible.

If you think you might need a bit more support to make arrangements about finances or children, mediation might be the best option for you. We answer a few common questions about meditation a little further down the page.

Will you contact my partner and ask them to attend?

We can't do this for you, but we can help you develop strategies on how to approach your partner and ask them to come along.


What happens at a mediation session?

Mediation is best described as support to have a difficult session. In a standard session, each person will be given a chance to speak and put forward their perspective. The mediator will help you establish some ground rules, like not talking over each other. They'll support you to talk about the issues you need to agree on and at the end of each session, your mediator will provide you with a document setting out what you've agreed. You'll be able to take legal advice on this document between sessions if you want to. 

How much does mediation cost?

Most of our sessions, whether mediation or counselling, do have a fee to cover the cost of running them. Generally, those fees differ depending on where you are in the country and your financial circumstances. Many of our Centres have a contract with the Legal Aid Agency, so if you're eligible for support from them you may be able to access publicly funded mediation. Mediation is generally much cheaper (and more pleasant) than a lengthy and costly court battle.

Do our mediators have special training?

Yes! All our mediators are specially trained on courses approved by the Family Mediation Council (FMC) and undergo a rigorous assessment process in order to qualify.

Can I come to mediation on my own?

In short, no. Unlike relationship counselling, mediation requires both you and your partner to attend so you can both input and agree on things together. 


Sex therapy

How can sex therapy help me?

Sex therapy is great for helping to re-establish an active sex life. Working with your therapist, you'll learn to recognise any difficulties you're having and find a way to move on from them. Most people who explore sex therapy are surprised by just how effective it is.

What happens at a sex therapy session?

Let's get one thing clear at the outset: you'll never be asked to undertake any sexual tasks during a sex therapy session. Instead, all the work you do in the therapy room is based on talking. Based on those conversations, your therapist will design a program of exercises to help you work on your issues in the privacy of your own home. In each session, your therapist will talk to you about how you're getting on and discuss the best next steps.

Can you come to sex therapy on your own?

Yes, you don't need to be in a relationship or have just one partner to come to sex therapy. 

Training and workshops

Who runs Relate workshops?

Workshops and courses are run by qualified trainers, with expertise in relationship issues. Many of our trainers are counsellors. Their approach is sensitive, understanding and non-judgmental.