Good personal and family relationships are essential for your wellbeing. There's a wealth of evidence that suggests having healthy relationships can help you live longer, enjoy better health and improved self-esteem. But more often than not strong relationships don't just happen, you have to work at them.

Relationship counselling isn't often talked about, but for those who need support with their relationships it can really help turn their lives around. According to research by Relate, the UK's largest provider of relationship counselling, relationship counselling has a number of benefits. Looking exclusively at people having couple counselling, the report found that:

  • 80% of clients said having counselling had a positive effect in helping them maintain or strengthen their relationship
  • 58% said it had a positive effect on their ability to concentrate at work
  • 70% said it had a positive effect on their self confidence

Here at CABA we've partnered with Relate to offer confidential relationship counselling, family counselling, young people's counselling as well as sex therapy to ICAEW members and their families in the UK. Here's an overview of the different counselling services on offer.

Relationship counselling

Relationship counselling is for everyone, whether you're married, living together, single, gay, lesbian or straight. If you're having any difficulties in your relationship, Relate's confidential and non-judgemental counselling provides a caring and supportive environment to help you work things through. Relate counsellors have experience in helping people of all ages and from all different backgrounds, and are here to help, no matter how bad or trivial your problems may seem.

What to expect during relationship counselling

We realise people these days lead hectic lives which is why you can talk to your counsellor in person, over the phone, by email or online - whichever fits your lifestyle best. You may want to have counselling with your partner or on your own, or have some sessions alone and others as a couple. Your counsellor will be happy to speak to 1 or both of you, whichever you feel most comfortable with.

A session usually lasts from 45 minutes to an hour, and during that time your counsellor will ask you questions about your situation and how you feel. Even if you feel nervous and apprehensive at first, it's highly likely you'll find that just talking to someone who isn't involved in the relationship can be helpful. Depending on your situation your counsellor may also offer you advice or suggest things you can try at home. 

Most people feel a positive change after having counselling sessions with Relate - and even if things don't change, it may help you see things differently or help you make a decision that will allow you to move forward. 

Family counselling

Family relationships can be the most rewarding of all. But there can be times when things may not be so great - for instance when there's a change in the family structure due to divorce, separation or bereavement, when parents remarry and form step families, or when siblings or other family members aren't getting on.

At these and other times family relationships can become strained, leaving you and other family members feeling isolated or overlooked. This is when family counselling may be useful, helping all members of your family communicate more effectively with 1 another as well as helping you to resolve your differences.

What to expect during family counselling

At a Relate family counselling session your counsellor is there to listen and give non-judgemental support and encouragement. All members of the family are welcome, and all are encouraged to have their say and share their feelings - children, especially, can benefit from being listened to in a safe and supportive environment.

By helping you learn how to adapt and support each other through difficult times, family counselling can reduce conflict and arguments, so you can enjoy being together as a family and face whatever life has in store for you as a strong, united team.

Children and young people's counselling

For many children and young people, growing up can be hard work. Most go through periods when things are tough. They may be affected by depression or another mental health problem. They may not be getting on with their parents or siblings, or they may be having problems at school with friends, other school children or even teachers. They may be finding things difficult because their parents are splitting up, they may not like 1 of their parents' new partners, or they may feel they don't fit in with their new step family.

When things like this happen, children and young people's counselling can help. A Relate counsellor listens and respects a child's or young person's point of view without any judgement - they never talk down to them. Indeed many young people claim they feel happier after seeing a Relate counsellor, and say they are better able to deal with their problems.

In some cases, Relate counsellors have helped children and young people to concentrate better at school or college, or get on better with their friends and family. And even if nothing changes, a counsellor can help a young person to think about things differently, so that things don't get them down so much.

Sex therapy

Whether you're married, living with your partner, gay, lesbian or straight, if you're having difficulties with your love life, sex therapy can help. All couples go through phases where they don't have the time or energy for regular sex. Or perhaps you're having sexual problems that are stopping you from starting a family. It may be embarrassing to talk about it at first, but Relate's sex therapists are here to help you resolve any psychological or physical issues that are affecting you, so you can rediscover your sex life.

What to expect during sex therapy

During a sex therapy session all of the work will be based on talking. Your therapist can help you work out how to deal with the problems you're having and to find a way to move on from them. You will be listened to with the utmost sensitivity, and once you get over the initial embarrassment of talking about your sex life you may be amazed at the difference it can make. In fact, according to Relate, 93% of couples who have used the sex therapy service said it improved their sex life.

If you would like more information about the confidential relationship support we provide in partnership with Relate to ICAEW members and their families: