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. 

Day 1

Introduction to relationship counselling and the self in practice

​Benefits to you

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

  2. Consider who attends for relationship counselling and why

  3. Understand ethical implications working with couples

  4. Be able to create and work with a genogram

Content / Topic

  • Understanding of what relationship therapy is

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

  • Difference and diversity – an introduction

  • Reflexivity – use of self in relationship counselling

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

Day 2

Basic systemic and psychodynamic thinking and common factors

Benefits to you

  1. Understand systemic thinking

  2. Understand/apply different systemic theories 

  3. Understand basic psychodynamic principles

  4. Understand the common factors across models

  5. Consider the importance of the therapeutic relationship

Content / Topic

  • Systemic thinking – origins and general themes

  • Issues of diversity and difference in couples work

  • Psychodynamics – repression, splitting, defences etc.

  • Vulnerability cycle

  • How to build the relationship

Day 3

Applying theory to practice and solution focussed working

Benefits to you

  1. Be able to adapt individual work to working with the couple dynamic

  2. Using systemic questioning to direct couple work

  3. Be able to work in a solution focussed way

Content / Topic

  • Setting goals and contracting

  • Using systemic questioning to help move couples forward

  • Solution focussed working – choosing the goal and remaining focussed

  • How to use homework and active techniques

Day 4

Safety and specific issues in working relationally

Benefits to you

  1. Know how to identify DVA (Domestic Violence/Abuse) and coercive control

  2. Be able to work with blended families

  3. Increase understanding of working with affairs

  4. Understand life stages and loss

Content / Topic

  • Identifying DVA (including control)

  • How to deal with this in the room.

  • Safety planning

  • Working with affairs

  • Working with blended families

  • The impact of life events and loss on couples

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