Enter the fascinating world

of couples counselling

Effective Couples Counselling

6 Day Foundation Programme


Alex Sanderson-Shortt is an experienced counsellor and trainer who specialises in relationship therapy, Alex has an MA in Relationship Therapy and is an accredited member of NCS. Alex teaches for Relate as well as presents seminars and training on LGBTQ issues in counselling.



This course is combines the learning of theory and practice through a mix of direct teaching delivery, group discussions and experiential exercises such as role play / skill practice sessions.


Pre Requisite

Recognised Counselling Qualification

Course Details

The course content outline is presented below. Please note the day structure may vary slightly depending on needs of attendees. 

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Day 1

Introduction to relationship counselling and the self in practice


  1. Understand what relationship therapy is and how it differs from individual

  2. Consider who attends for relationship counselling and why

  3. Understand ethical implications working with couples

  4. Explore Self in Context

  5. Reflexivity


  • Understanding of what relationship therapy is

  • Ethical practice – how does BACP guidelines relate to couple work (individual is client not relationship)

  • Difference and diversity – an introduction

  • Reflexivity – use of self in relationship counselling and how the therapists narratives can facilitate and stand in the way of effective therapeutic processes

Day 2

Theory - Basic systemic and thinking and common factors


  1. Understand systemic thinking

  2. Be able to use systemic questioning to direct couple work

  3. Be able to create and work with a genogram


  • Systemic thinking – origins and general themes

  • Systemic questioning

  • Creating a genogram – to be kept through the whole course

Day 3

Theory – Intro to psychodynamic ideas


  1. To have an understanding of psychodynamic principles in couples work

  2. To understand couple fit and object relations

  3. To explore projection, transferences and projective identification

  4. To be able to use the vulnerability cycle in couples work


  • Psychodynamics – repression, splitting, defences etc.

  • Vulnerability cycle

Day 4

Attachment and managing the couple relationship in the room


  1. Have an understanding and be able to work with attachment styles in couples counselling

  2. Building the relationship


  • Attachment Theory

  • Holding Split agendas

  • Managing 2 people in the room

Day 5

Domestic violence and abuse and working with a sexual focus


  1. Be able to identify and work with DVA and coercive control and be able to refer appropriately

  2. Be able to work with a sexual focus

  3. Understand the circular relationship between sexual and relational issues

  4. Understand the difference between relational issues and sexual dysfunction


  • Identifying DVA (including control) and how to deal with this in the room

  • Safety planning

  • Exploring the issues couples bring with regard to sex – what are the presenting problems

  • How to uncover the problems when the couples find it hard to talk about

Day 6

Working with affairs and using active techniques


  1. Understanding how to work with affairs

  2. To have explored the effects of mental health issues in relationships

  3. Be aware of issues around diversity and managing intersectional dynamics in the couple

  4. Be able to use active techniques in couples work


  • Working with affairs

  • Mental health issues in couples work

  • Diversity

  • Active techniques – e.g. sand tray, stones, timelines

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