Information for professionals

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Information for healthcare professionals

If you are providing professional health care, social work support or legal services to couples, families, individuals, young people or children you may be also be considering where to refer them to for relationship support or mediation. The information below is to help you to decide, along with your service user, if Relate would be a helpful form of support at this time and if so, how to access it and what your service user may expect. 

About us

We offer short to medium term professional, clinically supervised counselling, mediation and group work plus, in some locations, a range of targeted interventions such as reducing parental conflict programmes, domestic abuse perpetrator programmes, couple therapy for depression and compulsive sexual behaviour disorder counselling for individuals, groups and couples. Many of our centres offer additional local services to meet specific user group needs so please find and contact the centre nearest to you or your client for more information. 

We are a national, federated organisation offering face to face, online (zoom, messaging and email) and self-help services.  These also include our one session therapy service as well as our popular RelateHub service where a client can access support and signposting during a half hour session. We do charge for our services. However, in some instances a bursary or sliding scale may be available or up to six funded sessions provided through our various partnership working agreements.   

Our practitioners are all fully trained or in training for the services they provide and their work is supported through regular professional clinical supervision. Our rigorous internal consultancy and safeguarding protocols further support us to work as safely and ethically as possible. 

Client referral

You or the service or organisation for which you work may have an existing contract with us through which clients are referred directly.  Where that is the case, please follow the agreed protocols for introducing the service user to us ensuring that we are provided with all relevant information to assist us with our assessment process. Where that is not the case, following full discussion with your service user and their agreement, please ask them to contact us directly or provide us with a referral letter through which we can contact them directly to arrange an assessment. 

Regardless of how a client gets to us, we carry out an assessment with them to determine if Relate is likely to be a useful resource. Where a couple presents, individual as well as joint time for each partner is part of our assessment process. We also ask them to provide some factual information when they register, prior to their assessment. The same assessment process applies to separated co-parents who are seeking help to reduce conflict in their co-parenting relationship. With family counselling requests, we always meet with the parent/s or those with parental authority prior to deciding whether including other family members might be beneficial.  Similarly, prior to working with a child under 11, we would normally meet with the parent/s to gather data relevant to the child in question.  Following assessment with any potential client/s we offer ongoing services or, where necessary, provide information about other resources which we believe would be more beneficial at this time if we don’t think that we are the most appropriate source of help.

Safeguarding and client welfare 

We believe in a ‘safety before therapy’ approach and always prioritise the safety of any client/s. Prior to their assessment, clients are provided with information which explains the limits of confidentiality.  If, at any time and for any reason, it is decided that Relate is not the most appropriate source of support, we will usually suggest and provide information about more suitable professional help. However, where we consider the risk of sharing our thinking with them may put them or another person at risk of harm, we may share information regarding any safeguarding concerns with an appropriate authority without reference to the client.  

Many of our clients are experiencing some form of mental health issue or concern. Although we cannot ‘treat’ mental health conditions, it is often possible to help an individual, couple or family members to better understand and manage the impact of mental health issues on their relationships. Clients who are actively suicidal will require more targeted support than Relate can provide and we therefore recommend that you do not refer such clients until their situation is stabilised. 

We do not offer services to individuals or couples where there are pending or actual prosecutions for domestic abuse or orders preventing them from contacting their partner. Neither do we offer couple or individual counselling where one partner is undertaking a domestic abuse perpetrator programme. We do not usually offer counselling to couples or individuals where there are current or pending childcare legal proceedings. Part of our individual assessment process is always to screen for any ‘live’ abuse in the relationship where couples or co-parents want to attend sessions together. Where we have concerns, we will not proceed with joint sessions.  

We are sometimes asked to provide reports or assessments about a client/s progress through the service they are receiving.  Due to the confidential nature of counselling, we are not usually able to provide information of this nature. However, in some circumstances, we may be able to provide some limited additional data depending on the nature of the request. 

More about some of the services we offer 

Adult Relationship Counselling

For any individual, couple or group of people with a relational issue, whether they are friends, partners, ex partners or colleagues. Such issues include but are not limited to   concerns about a current relationship, difficulty in forming a relationship, managing multi relationships, the impact of past relationships or problems with friendship groups or work place related relationships.     

Couple Therapy for Depression

For couples where one partner has been diagnosed with depression. It is delivered by practitioners who have received extensive specialist training in this intervention, which has a high rate of success. Couples can be referred by their GP and may receive up to 20 sessions of counselling, at no cost, assuming they meet the criteria for the service. 

Adult Individual Counselling

A service for individual adults presenting with non-relational issues e.g. mild anxiety and depression, bereavement or workplace issues.     

Sex Therapy

A service based on a cognitive behavioural model for adult individuals and couples with specific sexual issues or difficulties related but not limited to arousal, desire, orgasm and pain.  

Compulsive Sexual Behaviour Disorder  

Some of our practitioners have undertaken additional training in this area and following detailed assessment may offer individual, couple or group work interventions. Relate does not offer this service to individuals involved in criminal sexual behaviours or activity but in some instances may be able to offer support to family members or partners.  

Family Counselling

Focuses on the family system and helps family members to resolve difficulties in their relationships with one another.  Any combination of family and blended family members may attend family counselling where, typically, the focus will be on family relationship interactions as opposed to work with a couple or specific individuals within the family group. Assessment for family counselling usually starts with seeing the adult family members first. 

Young People Counselling

For individual young people aged 11 and upwards.  Commonly presented problems are related to family conflict/breakdown, witnessing domestic abuse, parental separation/divorce; step family issues, self-harm, anxiety and depression.  We recommend that young people with diagnosed or suspected serious mental health issues and or active suicidal ideation are referred to CAMHS rather than to Relate.  

Children's Counselling

This service is for children aged 5 – 10, who may be displaying behaviours connected with distress caused by family conflict/breakdown, friendship or school groups or related issues.  Counselling may be carried out with the child alone or with a parent/s present.  When online contact only is available, the service may also be delivered directly to parents/carers in order to help them respond effectively to their child.  

Referrals from Social Care and CAMHS 

Please ensure that you complete our interagency referral form with all relevant information including all risk or safeguarding factors and any pending or active legal proceedings. We will review the information and let you know if we think that, subject to an assessment, it is likely we can offer counselling. Where that is the case, we will contact the client/s directly and offer them an assessment. We do not submit reports on general progress to referrers. However, in limited circumstances it may be possible to share information about attendance. Any safeguarding concerns will be addressed by using our child protection and safeguarding policies and procedures. 


Mediation is open to anyone who needs support in resolving family disputes and is for anyone who is divorcing or separating.  Family mediation helps arrangements to be put in place for finance, property and for children. Mediation helps married or co-habiting couples, civil partners, grandparents and other members of the extended family. 

From April 2014 anyone wishing to make an application to the family court must show the court that they have tried to resolve the issue by attending a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting know as a MIAM. This meeting allows clients to decide on whether mediation, which is a voluntary process, is the best way to resolve the dispute.  

MIAMs are usually done individually to give clients a chance to have a confidential discussion with a fully trained mediator, to discuss their options and to decide whether mediation is the right service for them. 

If mediation is chosen, it can give clients a voice and a chance to discuss the issues with the other party in a safe environment. This can lead to them making a formal agreement which can then be taken to their Solicitor to make this into a Consent Order which is the legally binding agreement. 

Some mediation services are also able to involve children in the mediation process to ensure they also have a voice. 

In some circumstances, clients might be eligible for Legal Aid to fund mediation. 
Deciding on the best way forward with any client or patient can be complex. If you’re considering if Relate might be a helpful resource for someone with whom you are or have been working and require more information about any of our services, please get in touch with our Head of Service Quality and Clinical Practice at