5 essential attributes of a successful relationship counsellor

Relationship counselling is a rewarding and challenging area of therapeutic work with couples, individuals and families requiring additional, specific skills and knowledge to generalist counselling.

Managing the complexities of more than one client in the room, where the client is “the relationship” takes complex clinical skills and capacities for a therapist. Pathways to becoming a Relationship counsellor involves training in systemic theory and practice offered through the Graduate Diploma of Relationship Counselling at RANSW’s training arm (AIRS) with the potential of further consolidation of skills through an Internship within RANSW.

This area of clinical work is not for the faint-hearted, as some issues couples and families are dealing with can be distressing and at times triggering for the counsellor themselves. However, the rewards are also great, when outcomes are successful and clients’ needs are met through the counselling process. The following personal attributes go a long way towards being a suitable candidate for developing professionally in this area of work:

  1. Essentially liking people: A fundamental liking of people, a warm-hearted approach to being curious about people, clients, how they think and feel and most importantly what THEY are wanting from the counselling.
  2. Tolerance and appreciation: Another important attribute is to develop tolerance and genuine appreciation of your client’s cultural and family background. Clients are generally good at picking up in an instant if you are judgmental, stereotyping, or critical of THEM.
  3. Compassion: Develop awareness of the widespread nature of suffering and struggle in the complexities and nuances of being human and being in relationships.
  4. Sound ethical base: Again, a client’s sense of genuineness or artificiality depends on the congruence between YOUR personal and professional life, not to perfection but good enough.
  5. Patience: Be patient with oneself and others in learning new complex skills and making changes from the inside out.
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