Introduction to Couples Counselling

It’s likely that as a counsellor or therapist, couples counselling wasn’t given much coverage in your initial training. If working in this field is something in which you’re now interested, you’ll probably find that most courses are one or two years long. Also, many courses focus on just one approach.

We believe that it’s possible to learn the fundamentals of couples counselling though a short course. This Introduction to Couples Counselling is facilitated by Debbie Winterbourne, with assistance from Simon Adamson. It’s a 4-day course, and will provide you with key principles and techniques that you can start putting into practice to help couple clients. The course comprises a mixture of theory, group work, role-plays and videos.

This course will be of particular benefit to you if:

  • You’re thinking of starting work with couples and want to have a basic grounding in how to handle the particular challenges of couples therapy;
  • You’re already working with couples and wish to gain a better understanding of how to deal with the issues and challenges you’re encountering;
  • You’re not necessarily planning to work with couples, but wish to engage in an area of professional development that could assist you further with your individual work, since ultimately, all our work is relational.

Dates set for 2019

The next London course is scheduled as follows:

First weekend: 8th & 9th June 2019
Second weekend: 6th & 7th July 2019
Times: 10am to 5pm
Venue: The Deborah Ubee Trust, Greenwich, London SE10 8JS (a short walk from Greenwich mainline and DLR station)

Please note:

Both weekends (4-days) are required to learn the basics of couples counselling.

Cost: £470 per 4-day introductory course or £450 for the early bird rate.

To book a place, a non-refundable deposit of £100 is required, followed by the remaining balance six weeks prior to the first weekend. Please email for payment details.

There will be a maximum of 15 people per 4-day course to ensure the maximum individual attention and benefit from the training.

Introduction to Couples Counselling Part 1 (first weekend):

Day One

  • Philosophy & theory of couples counselling;
  • The role of the therapist in couples counselling. Content versus process;
  • Different models of couples counselling;
  • Essential communication skills to teach your couples;
  • The basics of non-confrontational communication. Therapist as ‘translator’;
  • Couples dialogue. Facilitating your couples expressing differences & frustrations.

Day Two

  • Ethical dilemmas in couples counselling (seeing individuals separately concurrently with couple counselling; screening for domestic violence; addictions; confidentiality & keeping secrets; contact outside sessions);
  • Transference in the couple relationship; mechanisms of attraction & partner selection; uncovering unconscious relationship attraction patterns;
  • Attachment vs. Differentiation. Working with conflict & Emotions;
  • Attachment Patterns & mechanisms of disconnection;
  • Working with the couple’s defeating patterns.

 Introduction to Couples Counselling Part 2 (second weekend):

Day Three

  • Ethical dilemmas in couples counselling;
  • Stages of relationship from romance to power struggle to co-creation;
  • Working with the stages and developmental tasks of relationship;
  • Working with hostile couples; understanding & de-escalating conflict; bonding exercises;
  • Working with avoidant couples; facing the elephant in the room.

Day Four

  • Ethical dilemmas in couples counselling;
  • Homework & exercises for couples;
  • How to conduct your first couples session; theory & format; determining client intentions, motivation & how to proceed;
  • How to conduct your first couples assessment session; role plays;
  • Making a Treatment Plan for the journey ahead;
  • Questions; summary & end.

New for 2019 – Introduction to the Bader-Pearson Developmental Model

A new four-day introductory training in understanding and working with the ‘Developmetal Model’ in couples counselling.

The Developmental Model was created over 30-years ago by two psychologists in the US; Dr. Ellyn Bader and her husband Dr. Peter Pearson, who also jointly founded the Couples Institute.

Our course will cover the following topics:

  • The ‘three strands’ of the Developmental Model: Differentiation Theory; Attachment and Neuroscience;
  • The five stages of development in adult relationships, and the goals/tasks of each stage;
  • The three types of couples that present for couples counselling;
  • How to assess and diagnose a couple using The Couples Questionnaire;
  • The Paper Exercise: a key exercise to ascertain and diagnose six major problems in the couple’s ability to handle conflict, negotiation and communication;
  • How the Developmental Model works with hostile and avoidant couples;
  • Facilitating the Initiator-Inquirer Dialogue to strengthen differentiation in relationship;
  • How to help couples repair ruptures in their relationship;
  • The Fire Drill: an exercise to clarify what the couples aspire to create in their relationship;
  • Working with and disrupting symbiosis;
  • Facilitating differentiation;
  • Key negotiation principles; strategies for making decisions;
  • How to work with affairs and betrayals using the Developmental Model; different types of lies within relationship.

Dates set for 2019

The next London course is scheduled as follows:

First weekend: 9 & 10th March 2019
Second weekend: 6 & 7th April 2019
Times: 10am to 4.30pm
Venue: The Deborah Ubee Trust, 20 Egerton Drive, Greenwich, London SE10 8JS (a short walk from Greenwich mainline and DLR station)

Cost: £450 early bird; £470 if booked after 15 January 2019.

Minimum qualifications required to enrol: this course is most suited to qualified counsellors or psychotherapists. If you are a trainee, then completion of a minimum ten week certificate course is required to enrol. If you are outside of these criteria, please contact us to discuss, as in exceptional cases, enrolment may be possible.

Space is limited, so to reserve a place, please pay a non-refundable deposit of £100 now. Please email for payment details. Balance is payable by 9th February 2019.

Both London courses are expected to run at least once or twice per year.

There will be maximum of 15/16 people per course to ensure optimum benefit of the course.

A CPD certificate of 24 hours will be provided on completion of the course.

Cancellation terms for both courses: A £100 non-refundable deposit is required to reserve a place. The balance is payable one month before the course start date. Once paid this balance is also non-refundable.


“Absolutely fantastic course, jam-packed with information and resources. Will definitely be recommending to fellow counsellors.”  Katie, Private Practitioner

“An excellent overview to couples counselling offering you a strong base to start practising with growing confidence.”  Isabel, Letchworth Centre

“I found the course very enlightening and full of information. Highly recommended course. You will get all the information you need to move forward in couples counselling. Debbie is an inspirational teacher and I would recommend this course to anyone who wants to work with couples.”  Counsellor attending London course

“I would certainly recommend this course to anyone who is thinking of starting out on couples counselling. Be ready to discover how much there is to take on board. Debbie is a fantastic tutor.”  Counsellor attending London course.