Certificate in Family Counselling

This 12 month course in Family Counselling is founded on a model of systemic practice that is informed by the latest research findings on what makes family work effective.

Certificate in family counselling

After successfully completing this course, you will have a good working knowledge of:

  • Systemic theories and their application to Family Counselling.
  • Working with children in mind when working with families, including the use of narrative strategies.
  • Narrative approaches.
  • The therapeutic relationship in the context of family counselling.
  • Working systemically with families:  Attachment narrative therapy.
  • Managing difference and culture when counselling family members.
  • Emotions as a social construction – helping family members understand the impact.
  • Systemic supervision for practitioners working with families.

Students are required to adhere to the Relate Code of Ethics & Practice and the BACP Ethical framework.

Course structure

The taught element of the programme consists of 12 days spread throughout the year delivered in two or three day consecutive blocks. See the course dates for details. Please note that you must attend the first five days (blocks 1 and 2).

Course content

Module 1: Systemic theory and concepts: ethical considerations in family counselling.  

Topics include: applying systemic skills in family work, systemic questioning.

Module 2: Exploring and understanding work with families: starting practice. 

Topics include: initial assessments in family work, working with children and young people in family work

Module 3: Integrating and critically evaluating work with families: the complexities of interpersonal communications

Topics include: Practical theory of communication to therapeutic conversations (Coordinated Management of Meaning), dominant discourse in reflexive practice, ethical approach to domestic abuse in family work

Module 4: Narrative therapy: stories lived and stories told

Topics include: a critique of systemic theories presented, Attachment Narrative Therapy, recursive relationship between the stories we live and the stories we tell, and the clinical importance of highlighting the difference.

Module 5:  Working with difference: blended families 

Topics include: societal assumptions about families, social difference, involving children and young people in family work, parental alienation

Module 6:  Emotions and social constructions: endings  

Topics include: emotions within a systemic/social constructionist approach, experience of ‘self as therapist’, Appreciative Inquiry, supervision within a systemic framework, different models for ending therapy.


The programme is delivered through a variety of participatory and interactive methods, including lectures, debates, presentations, audio-visual materials, structured skills development and practice, group exercises, skills and reflective practice, case presentations, peer observations and reflections and programme group meetings.

As this is a clinical programme, there is a strong emphasis on practical and experiential work, including personal and professional development groups.

Also, your supervised placement practice (counselling hours) will allow you to apply your learning and gain valuable experience and confidence from your tutors, supervisor and peers. 

Good interactive course, lots of role play practice and group discussion time.


Assessment is made through a combination of skills practice observation and submission of a number written assignments.

The assignments are designed to demonstrate that you have met the learning outcomes and the assessment criteria. All assignments will be marked pass or fail. Anyone who fails their first submission will be allowed a second submission.

The central focus of the assessment process is to encourage and enable you to:

  • Engage in learning activities/processes commensurate with the academic level of the course.
  • Engage in personal evaluation of your own progress using critical reflection on your learning, utilising feedback from peers, supervisors and tutors.
  • Assume responsibility for your own learning.

The assessment breakdown is as follows:

1.       A tutor marked/observed practice skills assessment & evaluation.

2.       A written reflexive essay (1500 words).

3.       A case presentation to peers and tutor, and a written casework assignment (2000 words).

4.       Submission of a portfolio.

Each assignment is marked in accordance with Relate standards and policies.

Supervised placement

You will need a placement at a Relate Centre. Download our guide here

The clinical placement consists of 30 supervised hours of practice by the end of the course. Along with the practice hours, you are expected to attend 1.5 hours of supervision per month.

Entry requirements

You must:

  • Be aged 19 or over.
  • Have a Level 5 (or above) Diploma in Counselling (or equivalent).
  • Have access to a Relate Centre for your clinical placement.

All successful applicants will be required to have the appropriate DBS (Disclosure Barring Agency) checks as requested by the Relate Centre.

Applicants are strongly advised to ensure that they have adequate word processing and IT skills, access to a computer and the Internet will also be needed before and throughout this course. All course materials and assignments are accessed and submitted through our learning platform, Learn Relate.

Personal therapy

Accessing personal therapy is a cornerstone of training as a relationship counsellor. All students are strongly encouraged to have undertaken at least 20 hours personal therapy prior to joining the course or to consider doing so whilst in training.


You will be required to attend an interview with your placement centre and will need to demonstrate personal qualities relevant to therapeutic practice and training, which include:

  • Respect for and valuing of others, and their differences.
  • A commitment to anti-discriminatory practice.
  • A capacity of personal emotional resilience.
  • A capacity to cope with the professional and academic demands of the course.
  • A capacity to be reflexive and use experience and feedback constructively.

Acceptance on a course will be conditional on a confirmed Relate placement.

The tutor makes the training very interesting and interactive, and has a very calm, accepting, encouraging teaching style that is often hard to achieve on-line.

Course dates and venues

New dates currently being scheduled, please check back soon..

Course fees

This course costs £2,200.

Once your place on our course has been secured, you will need to pay. We offer all students two options, either to pay the full amount in one go or by direct debit instalments. Course confirmation and materials will not be released until payment has been made.

Additional expenses

These will vary depending on personal circumstances, but these should be taken into consideration when applying. We are unable to contribute to any of these additional costs.  These costs may include:

  • Registration on the Practitioner Directory - £50 – this is non-refundable
  • Travel and accommodation costs, it is advised that you do not book these until course dates are confirmed.
  • Buying books/resources etc.
  • Enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) Certificate.

Fees terms and conditions

All fees must be paid either in full or as agreed. Failure to pay will result in your exclusion from the course.

  • If you withdraw within two weeks of starting the first block, you are liable to pay 25% of the total course fees, minus the non-refundable costs.
  • If you withdraw within four months of starting the first block, you are liable to pay 50% of the total course fees, minus the non-refundable costs.
  • If you withdraw any time after five months of starting the first block, you are liable to pay 100% of the total course fees.

Non refundable costs

  • The Practitioner Directory fee 
  • Application process fee

How to apply

You will need to secure your place at a Relate centre before you submit your application.

To apply please download and complete the application form 

To prevent any delay in your application being processed, please make sure all the supporting documents are provided.

Your application will not be processed if it is incomplete.

Please email your application and supporting documents to training@relate.org.uk


Apply now