Diploma in Relationship Counselling

Accredited by CPCAB, this two-year qualification provides training for people wishing to work as relationship counsellors within Relate. It is the first step for progression on to our higher level courses. 

It is designed to equip those who are not qualified in counselling or psychotherapy to become a relationship counsellor. Students are required to adhere to the Relate Code of Ethics and Practice. 

The teaching exceeded my expectations. I feel like I am being led by someone passionate about her field, someone who possesses great knowledge, proficiency, and expertise.

Course structure

The taught element of this course consists of 41 days, delivered in two or three consecutive day blocks, over a two-year period.

You must complete and pass year one to progress onto year two. There are also mandatory eLearning courses that you will be expected to complete.

Course content

Module 1(Blocks 1 & 2): A professional framework for relationship counselling

Topics include: What is relationship counselling, introduction to relationship counselling theories, management of the therapeutic relationship, diversity and difference, ethical frameworks, safeguarding and assessing risk, the role of supervision, personal and professional frameworks.

Module 2 (Blocks 3 & 4): A systemic approach to relationship counselling 

Topics include: Systemic practice, exploring skills in couple work using systemic concepts, exploring the self as the counsellor, the use of supervision in couple work, managing cultural diversity and difference, exploring ethical issues and boundaries.

Module 3 (Blocks 5 & 6): A psychodynamic approach to relationship counselling

Topics include: Psychodynamic approach when working with relationships, adult attachment, relationships as attachment mechanisms, sexual relationships.

Module 4 (Block 7): Difference and diversity in relationship counselling pt.1

Topics include: Cultural competence, disability, ageing, reflexivity, issues of difference and diversity, exploring assumptions about relationships, gender and sexuality and intersectionality.

Module 5 (Block 8): A sexual focus and relational challenges

Topics include: Relationships and affairs, divorce & separation, re-formed families, working with a sexual focus, skills practice.

Module 6 (Blocks 9 & 10): Preparing for practice as a relationship counsellor

Topics include: Initial assessment, domestic abuse & safeguarding awareness and understanding, fit for practice assessments, phone/webcam counselling & tutorials.

Module 7 (Blocks 11 to 13): Mental Health and relationship counselling

Topics include: General mental health issues and relationship work, understanding depression and anxiety, including relational impact and substance abuse, exploring perspectives on trauma and the potential effects on adult relationships, managing risk and ongoing assessment.

Module 8 (Blocks 14 & 15): Using relationship theories in relationship counselling

Topics include: Revisiting systemic and psychodynamic concepts, integration in practice & skills practice.

Module 9 (Blocks 16 & 17): Difference and diversity in relationship counselling pt. 2

Topics include: Student experience of difference and diversity in practice, cultural competence, gender, sexual, erotic, and relational diversity (GSERD) and relationship counselling, relationships and wellbeing, integrating and critically evaluating work with clients, developing practice.

Module 10 (Block 18): Further ideas and concepts in relationship counselling

Topics include: Reflecting on a range of other theoretical perspectives informing relationship therapy, Gottman, Chapman ‘love languages’, Transactional Analysis, behavioural approaches, emotionally focused therapy, narrative therapy, and Solution Focused Therapy & LGBT affirmative therapy.

Module 11 (Block 19 & 20): Working in placement and evaluating practice

Topic include: Case presentations, personal and professional development as a relationship counsellor, endings and celebration of achievement.


The programme is delivered through a variety of participatory and interactive methods, including lectures, debates, presentations, structured skills development and practice, group exercises, 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. 

The content in the course was comprehensive and covered topics in detail.


Assessments are made through a combination of skills practice observation and submission of a number of 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 professional framework for relationship counselling (1500 word essay)
  2. A Systemic approach (2000 word reflexive commentary on a recorded session with peers)
  3. Psychodynamic approach (2000 word reflexive commentary on a recorded session with peers)
  4. Difference and Diversity in relationship counselling (1500 word evaluation)
  5. A sexual focus and relational challenges (two 750-word reflections on seminar papers)
  6. Fit for practice assessment and reflective evaluation (in-class assessment & 1500 words)
  7. Mental health and relationship counselling (four 750-word critiques of seminar papers)
  8. Difference and Diversity case presentation (in-class presentation & 1000 word reflection)
  9. Case study presentation and review (in-class presentation & a 3500 word reflexive commentary on client work)
  10. Further ideas and concepts in relationship counselling (in-class group work presentation & 1000 evaluation)
  11. Working in placement and evaluating practice (submission of a final portfolio of evidence)

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 to see how to do this here

The clinical placement wil start after block 10 and consists of 100 supervised hours of practice by the end of the course, around 70 hours of which will be in couples counselling (more than one person in the room). Along with the practice hours, you are expected to attend 1.5 hours of supervision per month, once you have started your client work. 

Entry requirements

You must:

  • Be aged 19 or over.
  • Commit to two years towards gaining this qualification.
  • Have completed a recognised Level 3 certificate in Counselling Studies, with tutor-led teaching and input. 
  • Have access to a Relate Centre for your clinical placement.
  • Be able to commit to around 10 hours a month towards your clinical practice (in addition to all other commitments). 

All successful applicants will be required to have the appropriate DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) 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 (not a tablet) 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.

The course had fantastic skills practice and exercises.

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 this course will be conditional on a confirmed Relate placement.

The tutor is just brilliant! Human, humorous, hugely capable, and very very knowledgeable. They are also very approachable and generous with their time.

Course dates and venues

Course code: NOT/RCD/016

Location: Nottingham

Start date: 06 July 2024 | End date: 06 July 2026

Start time: 09.30 | End time: 17.00

Application deadline: 06 June 2024

The course will consists of the following blocks* of training dates:

Year one

Block 1:  06/07 July 2024
Block 2:  03/04 August 2024
Block 3:  31 August/01 September 2024
Block 4:  28/29 September 2024
Block 5:  26/27 October 2024
Block 6:  23/24 November 2024
Block 7:  04/05 January 2025
Block 8:  01/02 February 2025
Block 9:  01/02 March 2025 
Block 10: 29/30 March 2025
Phone Counselling Workshop: 05 April 2025 (virtual)

Year two

Block 11:  12/13 July 2025
Block 12:  09/10 August 2025
Block 13:  06/07 September 2025
Block 14:  04/05 October 2025
Block 15:  01/02 November 2025
Block 16:  29/30 November 2025
Block 17:  10/11 January 2026
Block 18:  07/08 February 2026 
Block 19:  07/08 March 2026 
Block 20:  25/26 April 2026

*Please note that you must attend blocks 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10 in the first year and blocks 16 & 17 in year two. There is an overall 80% attendance to pass the course.

Course code: ROM/RCD/017

Location: London North East/Romford

Start date: 16 November 2024 | End date: 16 November 2026

Start time: 09.30 | End time: 17.00

Application deadline: 16 October 2024

The course will consists of the following blocks* of training dates:

Year one

Block 1:  16/17 November 2024
Block 2:  14/15 December 2024
Block 3:  11/12 January 2025
Block 4:  08/09 February 2025
Block 5:  08/09 March 2025
Block 6:  05/06 April 2025
Block 7:  17/18 May 2025
Block 8:  14/15 June 2025
Block 9:  11/12 July 2025
Block 10: 09/10 August 2025
Phone Counselling Workshop: Date to be confirmed (virtual)

Year two

Block 11:  22/23 November 2025
Block 12:  03/04 January 2026
Block 13:  31 January / 01 February 2026
Block 14:  28 February / 01 March 2026
Block 15:  28/29 March 2026
Block 16:  25/26 April 2026
Block 17:  06/07 June 2026
Block 18:  04/05 July 2026
Block 19:  01/02 August 2026
Block 20:  19/20 September 2026

*Please note that you must attend blocks 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10 in the first year and blocks 16 & 17 in year two. There is an overall 80% attendance to pass the course.


Course fees

This course costs £2,900 per year. This includes the non-refundable CPCAB registration and application fee. (The total cost of this qualification is £5,800).

Once your place on our course has been secured, you will need to pay the the amount in full or the deposit.

We offer all students two options, either to pay the full amount in one go or by direct debit instalments. If paying by DD instalments we require a deposit of £750, as your first payment.

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 and paid separately.
  • Cost of personal therapy (some Relate Centres may require you to attend some personal therapy).
  • Travel and accommodation costs, it is advised that you do not book these until course dates are confirmed.
  • Buying books/resources etc.
  • Enhanced DBS 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
  • The CPCAB registration fee
  • Application process fee

How to apply

To apply please download and complete the application form.

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

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’s incomplete.

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


Apply now