Professional Training

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 you’re interested in working with couples, you’ll probably have found that most of the available courses in this field are one or two years long. Also, many courses focus on just one approach, meaning that you need to make a significant commitment in time and cost before you can be sure whether the approach suits you, or even if you necessarily wish to pursue this kind of work.

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 both of us (Debbie Winterbourne and Simon Adamson). It’s a 4-day course that introduces key principles and techniques from several established approaches that you can start putting into practise to help both couple clients and individuals presenting with relationship issues. The course comprises a mixture of theory, group work, role-plays and videos. We created the course by pulling together the key concepts we discovered through working in this challenging field ourselves, while also drawing on our personal relationship experiences.

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;
  • You have an interest in working with couples, but aren’t yet sure if this is the work for you.

The next introduction course is scheduled as follows:

First weekend: Friday 1st & Saturday 2nd November 2024

Second weekend: Friday 6th & Saturday 7th December 2024

Times: 10am to 5pm

Venue: Quaker Meeting House, 2 Lawn Terrace, Blackheath, London SE3 9LL

Please note:

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

Cost: £530 for the full 4-day introductory course with an earlybird rate of £500 if booking before 1st December 2023.

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.

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.

This course usually runs at least once or twice per year, so if you can’t make the next date, please get in touch so that we can let you know when the next dates are announced.

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

Cancellation terms: 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.

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 (therapeutic balance between couple partners);
  • 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 (domestic violence);
  • 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. 

Level Two Couples Counselling Course

As a follow-on from the introduction course, this Level 2 course explores the important concept of differentiation in couples counselling, with a particular focus on the Developmental Model of Couple Counselling pioneered by Drs Ellyn Bader and Peter Pearson. There is also an overview of Dr David Schnarch’s Crucible Therapy model. It has a similar 4-day format to our introduction course and is facilitated by Debbie Winterbourne and Simon Adamson.

The next Level Two course is scheduled as follows:

First weekend: Friday 31st May & Saturday 1st June 2024

Second weekend: Friday 26th & Saturday 27th July 2024

Times: 10am to 4.30pm

Venue: Quaker Meeting House, 2 Lawn Terrace, Blackheath, London SE3 9LL

Cost: £530, for the full 4-day Level Two course (£500 early-bird rate if booking before 1st April 2024).

A CPD certificate of 22 hours will be provided on completion of the course.

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.

Cancellation terms: 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.

Testimonials by previous attendees of our training courses:

  • ‘This course is amazing. Simon and Debbie bring a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to engaging the complexities of couples counselling. They are both counsellors and an actual couple! Their real, true to life education offers each learner a plethora of skills and techniques to take away and apply directly into their practice. The only disappointment I have is there aren’t more levels! The handouts alone are worth the price!

Jason, (attended Level 2 Course 2023)

  • ‘Debbie and Simon provided a very full introduction to couples training. The programme was so well thought out and presented in what can only be described as their warm, unique and truly authentic style. Their daily training plans and handouts were detailed and easy to follow and they offered generous access to their well-thought out resources. I am already looking forward to a future training with them. Thank you!’

Michele (attended Introduction Course 2023)

  • ‘Debbie and Simon’s introduction to couples therapy training is one of the most enjoyable and inspiring CPD trainings I’ve attended. They shared their passion for the work with huge generosity and patience. The training was robust, with every aspect carefully considered to ease and encourage our learning, from extensive handouts to fresh fruit during the breaks. It felt like a really safe place to practise new skills and ask questions freely. There was a great combination of theory and experiential practise and although the days were jam-packed they seemed to fly by.

    I feel I now have a good understanding of the basics involved in becoming a couples therapist including many of the ethical dilemmas such as working individually with clients alongside couples work, of confidentiality vs. transparency as well as the practical issues of drawing up contracts and the wording of client questionnaires. They kindly provided us with a great set of ready-made documents to facilitate our entrée into the world of couples therapy.

    What I love too is the ongoing support through their facebook group and the option to be included in their couples therapist directory. If you are thinking of finding out more about couples training I can’t think of a better place to start.’

Cas (attended Introduction Course 2021)

  • ‘I can honestly say that this is by far the best couples counselling training I have ever attended. I would not hesitate to recommend this training to anyone, excellent all round.’

DN (attended Introduction Course 2019)

  • ‘The Introduction Course provided an excellent foundational level insight into the world of couples therapy. I am completing the course feeling well equipped to begin couples therapy. The handouts and level of information and different theoretical approaches is exactly what I was hoping for. Thank you both.’

Deone Payne-James, Integrative Counsellor (attended Introduction Course 2019)

  • ‘Clear concise delivery, I feel confident to start with clients. I have trained on a couples workshop previously but didn’t feel confident to start working, so delayed and continued to look for further training. Really impressed by the content shared, every question answered and great safeguarding implementation.’

Therapist (attended Introduction Course 2019)

  • ‘I am so thankful that I chose to do your course. My supervisor highly recommended it, and I was not disappointed. Not only did it reassure me that I already was familiar with a good number of approaches by the foremost experts in the field of couples counselling, but your comprehensive coverage of the basics was thorough, practical and reassuring. The range of helpful handouts will also be a source of practical guidance both for me and my clients: a wide menu. Ellyn Bader and Peter Pearson’s ‘developmental approach’ was new to me, and makes absolute sense. I’ll enjoy exploring it more. It was also a first proper introduction to Marshall Rosenberg, and I now have his step by step guide to nonviolent communication in my grasp and am passing it on to clients. I also liked the fact that you both have a depth of knowledge and experience, which has come both from your passionate exploration over time within the field, as well as your ongoing commitment to increased happiness within your own relationship.’

Loraine McDonald (attended Introduction Course 2019)

  • ‘This course was an excellent way of creating the solid groundwork for having a couples practice, whilst giving the tools and confidence to be a better practitioner. It made me re-evaluate all my counselling skills and practice.’

Therapist (attended Introduction Course 2019)

  • ‘This was one of the most informative and useful trainings I have experienced. Excellent trainers, thorough handouts, lots of practise. Highly recommended. Don’t become a couples counsellor without this training!’

Denise Dyson (attended Introduction Course 2018)

  • ‘An excellent and thought provoking training. The course is well structured and Debbie and Simon weave in a range of theory and therapeutic approaches. I left feeling much better equipped to work with couples. I also found plenty to enrich and expand my individual work. I will definitely recommend this course to colleagues looking to make the transition from individual to couples counselling.’
Rowena (attended Introduction Course 2018) 
  • ‘An extremely full and informative course for therapists. Diverse in content approaches, and very well supported with copies of information given. Great balance between interactive and didactic approaches and good to share existing and future work with other clinicians. Gives space to explore the parallels between one’s own experiences and the clients’, which is an essential part of our ongoing practice.  Good for therapists new to couples work and to those well versed in the practise. Very pleased that I found this rare training.’

Julia Dansie (attended Introduction Course 2018)

  • ‘For anyone considering working with couples, this course is a must; so informative and really enjoyable.’

Julie Mills-Langdown, Psychodynamic Counsellor (attended Introduction Course 2018 London)

  • ‘Very well organised with excellent handouts. warm, professional delivery. Excellent course. Thank you.’

Therapist (attended Introduction Course 2018)

  • ‘High quality training delivered with a real depth and enthusiasm. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.

Therapist (attended Introduction Course 2018)