Relationships Counselling Course - Learn to Understand and Improve Relationships

This course is suitable for anyone working with people in difficult circumstances and who want to help.

Suitable for counsellors, telephone counsellors, child and family workers, teachers, educational staff, social workers, helpline workers, volunteers, and more.

  • Good relationships make life happy, purposeful and less stressed.
  • Bad relationships are unproductive.
  • An understanding of the psychology of relationships will develop your capacity to help yourself, and help others, to a happier, more fulfilled life - at home, at work, at play. 

You can start the course at any time. You study by distance learning with the support and guidance of our excellent specialist tutors.

Enrol today and receive three free eBooks, recommended by our Psychology Tutors, and related to the course.


Study Relationships And Communication Counselling by distance learning

Improve your knowledge of how difficulties arise in relationships and steps to provide support and aid

  • Develop your understanding of the role communication plays in creating, maintaining or destroying relationships.
  • Improve your ability to assist others to improve their relationships communications.

There are many and varied reasons why relationships breakdown and irreconcilable differences is one of them. This occurs when two people differ in their beliefs and values and neither are willing to accept that the other person holds a different viewpoint. While agreeing to disagree would be a type of win-win in this situation, the way in which the difference is communicated and hence managed is often destructive. For example, one may continue to force the other to accept their position, through verbal attacks, or may give the ‘silent treatment’, not speaking to the other. When communication subsides into physical, verbal or emotional abuse (name calling, personal attacks, hitting, yelling, punching, pushing, verbal tirades, destroying personal items), the relationship is most often irretrievable. In fact, research has shown that once a poor or destructive communication cycle is established, it is rare that a reversal can take place as quite often, respect and trust is diminished to very low levels, and may take years of learning new skills to rebuild.

When communication is stifled, a ‘roadblock’ occurs that creates a brick wall to effective communication. One of the first signs that this has occurred is:

  • the inability to listen to the other person (thinking about what you will say next rather than listening, wanting to push your point);

  • a feeling of being overwhelmed (wanting to attack, run away, cry or feeling ‘frozen’);

  • the third sign of a breakdown in communication is the inability to think rationally about what to do next (not knowing what to say or how to respond).


Course Structure and Lesson Contents

The contents of each lesson are outlined below:

1.   Communication in Emerging Relationships

  • Introduction

  • Problems in relationships

  • Stages in relationships

  • Interpersonal communication

  • The communication process

  • Principles of communication

  • Communication filtered through perceptions

  • Verbal communication

  • Non verbal communication

  • Communication responsibility

  • Ineffective communication

  • Signs of relationship breakdown

  • Effective communication

  • Abuse and violence in relationships

2.  Self-Awareness and Communication Goals

  • Introduction

  • Negative communication

  • Self awareness

  • Setting the stage for change

  • Good communication is thoughtful

  • Intent

  • Awareness

  • Recognising reactive patterns

  • Relationship goals

3.  Communication Patterns in Relationships

  • Negative patterns of communication

  • Aggressive patterns

  • Victim patterns

  • Avoidance patterns

  • Thought, feeling and action cycle

  • Thoughts and feelings differentiated

  • Emotions (feelings)

  • Patterns of thought

  • Behaviour (Actions)

  • Action skills

  • Communicating intent

4.  Influences on Relating Behaviour and PBL

  • Influences on communication

  • Environmental influences; family, culture, social, other

  • Global factors

  • Communicating and changing interpersonal needs

  • Changing expectations and needs

  • Adult psychological development

  • Erikson's psycho social stages

  • PBL to create and plan a counselling intervention for a couple who are experiencing relationship difficulties.

5.  Communication Techniques and Skills

  • Introduction

  • Triads

  • Listening

  • Paraphrasing

  • Reflective responses; emotions

  • Reflective responses; content

  • Guidelines to prevent inauthentic listening

  • Open questions

  • Message statements or requests

  • Self disclosure

  • Encouraging clients to learn communication

6.  Maintaining Relationships

  • Introduction

  • Kinds of, and stages in relationships

  • Factors to help maintain relationships

  • Agreements or contracts

  • Praise and gifts for service

  • Relationship nurturing communication

  • Straight talk


Course Duration: 100 hours of self-paced study.


Course Aims

  • Examine the importance of communication in emergent relationships and its changing role within relationships.

  • Explain different influences affecting and changing interpersonal needs over the lifespan.

  • Recognise the role of cultural and physical environmental influences on communication.

  • Identify and examine patterns of communication in close relationships.

  • Describe constructive and destructive methods of maintaining relationships.

  • Describe patterns of relationship breakdown and the role of constructive and destructive communication.

  • Discuss the effectiveness of different communication techniques in relationships.


What You May Do In This Course

  • Determine ways in which we consciously communicate in a relationship, and ways in which we unconsciously communicate.

  • Determine different negative messages that can damage relationships, and different positive messages that can nurture them.

  • Determine attitudes or expectations (thoughts and beliefs) that can result in destructive communication, and describe one likely negative outcome for each.

  • Identify common needs that we want to satisfy through our relationships.

  • Identify cultural or social influences that affect individual and family attitudes to happiness, self-expression, and relationships.

  • Explain psychological theories and terms such as attribution theory, implicit personality theory, Gestalt impression formation, inference processes, stereotyping.

  • List benefits and disadvantages of 'self-disclosure' and 'self-disguise or concealment' (lying)

  • Define effective communication.

  • Discuss the role that judgment plays in preventing a person from understanding and/or respecting another person's point of view and feelings.

  • Discuss strategies for replacing negative communication patterns in relationships for positive patterns.


We All Need Positive Relationships

For many individuals, the desire to connect with others in a meaningful, enjoyable or beneficial relationship is a natural basic drive but, for various reasons, many find it elusive. While opportunities for making relationships generally surround us (unless we are in complete isolation), many people find it very difficult to take steps towards establishing a relationship, or even in expressing interest in establishing one. This is not always due to shyness, though that can be a major obstacle. We may be hampered by low self- esteem, which leads us to think that no-one is interested in us or that we don't have what it takes to interest and create relationships with others. We may have experienced previous hurts or rejections, or been raised in an uncaring or hostile environment which can make us fearful of rejection or fearful of anticipated hurt. In each of these cases, understanding the process of establishing a relationship can be helpful.

There are two main aspects to establishing a relationship:

  • One is taking the steps to initiate a relationship, the first steps towards a relationship.

  • The other is what we do to create interest in a relationship to keep that initial contact or those first steps going.

Our success in each of these areas can be largely determined by what we bring to the interaction: our awareness of and expectations of ourselves, the other person, and of the relationship.

Counselling Via Email

Counselling via email obviously relies totally on words. There are no facial expressions, no tone of voice, no spoken words. Counsellors working with emails will still need to use counselling skills and be able to engage clients via ‘writing’ rather than making use of their other non-verbal skills to develop relationships.  

Counsellors working in this way will need to match the client’s style of writing. If a client writes in an informal tone, it is no good the counsellor responding in an academic or intellectual way, as this could put the client off or they may confuse the client, and so forth.

There is no average time frame that client and counsellor may correspond in this way. Some clients may communicate regularly, but others may communicate very irregularly with the counsellor.  Some clients may only write again if they start to experience difficulties again.

Emails may be kept by some email counsellors, whilst others will destroy them. This will need to be clarified with the client. For example, if the counsellor destroys them, the client needs to be aware that they may have to explain their difficulties again when they send a new email.

When writing things down, it can help a client to consider their options and what they are writing down. Some clients find it hard to talk about their problems in the early stages of counselling, so being able to put this down in an email and send it to someone they don’t know can be beneficial to them.  

Some clients may already be in counselling elsewhere, but find the additional support of an email counsellor useful. The counsellor needs to be aware of these other forms of counselling the client is receiving so that they are supportive of this.  

The client and counsellor can also have time to reflect on their reply before it is sent. This ensures that it says exactly what they mean.  

Nevertheless, misunderstandings can arise. Counsellors should encourage clients to come back to them if they are not sure what they mean. If we are having a conversation and someone doesn't understand, we can repeat it in a different way until they do understand. The counsellor should clarify this to the client, that if they don’t understand, we will talk in a different way. It is beneficial for the counsellor to summarise what the client is saying to make sure they understand. 

To work as an email counsellor, the counsellor must therefore ensure that they write clearly and explain well. They should avoid using standard responses and treat clients as individuals.


Enrol Today and receive:

  • Good quality support throughout the course from our highly experienced and well qualified tutors.
  • Individual feedback and marking on all assignments.
  • High quality tutor notes and information about relationships and communication counselling.
  • Three free eBooks, recommended by our Psychology Tutors, and related to the course.

If you have any questions or want to know more about the Relationships And Communication Counselling course, or any of our other courses, please get in touch with us now, by:

Phone (UK) 01384 442752, or (International) +44 (0) 1384 442752, or

Email us at [email protected], or use our FREE COURSE COUNSELLING SERVICE



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