How to Become a Relationship Coach: 7 Certification Courses

Relationship coaching trainingCoaching is a vibrant and growing field.

The number of active coach practitioners reached 126,000 in 2023 and is projected to reach 145,000 in 2024, according to research by the International Coaching Federation (ICF, 2023) and CoachRanks (Coachranks, n.d.).

That is almost a 50% increase from the 2020 Global Coaching Study released by the ICF (ICF, 2020) when there were 71,000 coach practitioners.

Specialization as a coach is vital for success. Many coaches today identify as business coaches, but there are other types of specializations, such as career, nutrition/fitness, leadership, creativity, and spirituality.

This article will discuss the specialization of relationship coaching. It will review job possibilities and training opportunities for coaches and therapists who want to deepen their work with couples.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Positive Relationships Exercises for free. These detailed, science-based exercises will help you or your clients build healthy, life-enriching relationships.

How to Become a Relationship Coach

Relationship coaching is a professional, client-focused service that supports individuals and couples in learning skills to achieve their relationship goals (Allen, 2016).

Although many people think of relationship coaching as helping romantic relationships (and it can), it is not limited to that. Relationship coaches can also help with a variety of interpersonal relationships, such as employee-to-manager, peer-to-peer, and even team building (Stout-Rostron, 2019).

Here are some examples of relationship coaching specialties from the Academy of Creative Coaching:

  • (Online) dating
  • Cross-cultural relations
  • Family
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Marriage
  • Adoption
  • Communication
  • Aging parents
  • Business relationships
  • Military families
  • Parenting
  • Divorce/separation
  • Law of attraction
  • Sex and intimacy

As you can see, relationship coaching affords a wide variety of opportunities to empower clients to improve communication, establish boundaries, deepen intimacy, learn conflict resolution for families or kids, and create positive change in relationships (Nelson-Jones, 2006).

Relationship coaching is not the same as couples therapy. Often, with relationship struggles, one or both individuals are coming to therapy with deep wounds, such as trauma or mental illness (Hart, Blattner, & Leipsic, 2001). If that is the case, then therapy is more appropriate. However, coaching can be beneficial for couples who would like to find greater intimacy or learn healthier communication skills.

Because coaching is such a new field, it’s difficult to navigate the world of training. There is one large accrediting body, the ICF, but there are hundreds of programs that are not accredited. In fact, there is no requirement for training or certification at all to call yourself a coach.

However, if you want to be in service to others, you likely want to get the best training possible. For this reason, it is advisable to go with a program that is ICF accredited.

The ICF is currently one of the most rigorous and well-established certification programs in the world. They have a high standard of curriculum, ethics, mentorship, and hours required for programs to be certified. After completing an ICF-accredited program, you can then apply to be an ICF-certified coach.

There are two paths to becoming a relationship coach, depending on the credentials you already have and the type of career you want. First, if you only have a bachelor’s degree or are currently trained or working in a field that has nothing to do with relationship coaching, it is advisable to go through a full life coaching program and, in addition, take some specialty courses in relationship work.

If you are already working as a coach or have a background or license in counseling or therapy, you can quickly obtain a specialization in relationship coaching and shorten your training time.

3 Requirements of Relationship Coaches

Coach provide empowermentBeing a relationship coach can be exceptionally demanding. The following skills can be helpful.

1. Empowerment

Coaches must believe that their clients can change.

To coach is to support a client on the path to growth, and a strong belief in the client’s ability to achieve their goals is paramount to success.

Coaches inherently believe that the client knows what they need and can get there with accountability and encouragement. But they do not want to create an over-reliance on the coaching process. The goal of a coach is to make themselves obsolete.

2. Empathy

Empathy is the ability to see things from another’s perspective. It is vital that a coach understand that all people have their own unique story, and that what works for one may not necessarily work for another.

The ability to empathize fully will help the coach co-create goals that are appropriate to the specific problem the client or couple is going through.

3. Listening and communication skills

If you are worried that you might not have what it takes to work one-on-one with people, fear not. A good coach training program will give you many skills to work effectively with people, such as empathetic listening, motivational interviewing, and growth assessments.

Download 3 Free Positive Relationships Exercises (PDF)

These detailed, science-based exercises will equip you or your clients to build healthy, life-enriching relationships.

4 Best Certification & Training Programs

It’s unnecessary and inadvisable to take a program that only trains in relationship coaching unless you have already completed a coaching program.

An excellent coaching program should teach a variety of skills and allow the coach to choose their specialty after learning the basics. For that reason, the programs chosen for this list offer a comprehensive program as well as a specialization in relationship coaching.

Each of these programs is ICF accredited at the level of Accredited Coach Training Program, meaning that they have met the requirements of a minimum of 125 student contact hours, mentor coaching, and a performance evaluation process. In addition, these programs are in English, but the ICF search engine offers many language options.

Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC)

iPEC has been ICF certified since 2002. They offer a comprehensive coaching training program, as well as business development assistance, peer networking, and one-on-one mentorship from an expert coach. Coaches who have completed this program also have access to iPEC’s library of research-backed assessment tools.

The program also offers niche specialty training, including in relationship coaching.

The training program is rigorous and not self-paced. There are three, 3-day virtual meetings that occur 12 weeks apart. There are weekly classes, assignments, webinars, workbooks, and self-study materials. It is conducted more like formal school and is an intensive time commitment.

iPEC’s training program is more expensive than most coaching programs. However, it is also one of the most comprehensive and high quality, and one of the few programs that also offers business assistance for creating your own coaching business.

Find out more on their website.

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Academy of Creative Coaching

The Academy of Creative Coaching offers a variety of ways to learn. They have a four-day weekend intensive program that offers 60 hours of contact. In addition, they also offer live online classes or a fully self-paced design.

This program requires that coach trainees choose a specialty, and training is woven into the program through specialized textbooks, coursework assignments, independent study hours, practice coaching sessions, and one-on-one mentor coaching sessions.

Find out more on their website.

The Academy for Coaching Excellence

The Academy for Coaching Excellence (ACE) is committed to providing an inclusive program. By offering sliding scale pricing, fundraising support, and a diversity and inclusion plan, they offer a promising way forward for many groups that may have not had the ability to attend a coaching program in the past.

The ACE has a commitment to compassion and social consciousness. They will match you with a mentor coach who is aligned with your focus and goals. Their program takes one to two years to complete, is fully online, and has flexible start dates for each module.

The cost of the program is based on your income and offered on a sliding scale. In addition, after completion of the first model, the program helps you begin to get paid to coach while you are completing the training.

Find out more on their website.

Coach Training World

Coach Training World (CTW) offers a program based on “whole person coaching,” a holistic and scientific process that helps the coach bring out the best in their client. They encourage specialization and guide the program based on that choice. Relationship coaching is one specialization they offer.

CTW also focuses on the business aspect of coaching, offering a variety of additional business training options.

The program lasts approximately 6 months, delivering 150 contact hours.

Find out more on their website.

3 Courses & Online Options to Consider

Online coaching coursesIf you’re already trained as a therapist or counselor, it is not necessary to undergo an extensive coaching program, as many of the skills you will learn were already covered in your therapy training such as motivational interviewing, strengths-based therapies, and administering assessments.

You may want to take a brief continuing education course rather than complete hundreds of hours of coaching instruction. These courses are also helpful if you have already completed coaching training and would like to deepen your understanding of relationship coaching.

Erickson International: The Art and Science of Couples Coaching

Erickson offers many continuing education courses for coaches. One such course is their Art and Science of Couples Coaching. This three-day intensive gives coaches tools to better work through the specific problems of couples. You will learn how to use solution-focused coaching to help couples agree on relationship values and vision, rediscover love and connection, and allow forgiveness.

This program offers 20 hours of continuing coaching education units. Prerequisites are completion of previous modules with Erickson or a certificate from another coaching school.

You can have a look at the coaching course on their website.

UK Coaching Academy

The UK Coaching Academy offers many opportunities to get special certifications in coaching outside of their full program. If you have already completed a coaching program, you can apply to complete one of their many additional certifications.

The Relationship Coach Certification course includes videos, a study guide, and an exam and offers 24 hours of continuing coaching education credits upon completion.

Find out more on their website.

Relationship Coaching Institute (RCI)

RCI has a unique approach in that the entire program is geared only toward relationship coaching. It offers an ICF-accredited program that provides 83 hours of instruction, mentorship, and training.

The three modules are Foundations of Relationship Coaching, Relationship Coaching for Singles, and Relationship Coaching for Couples. Students have the option of taking each of these courses separately or completing all three.

The program meets once a week and lasts for nine months. It is the most comprehensive relationship coach training available. Rather than tuition, RCI charges a membership fee. This fee affords members access to all the live courses, as well as other self-study courses on relationship coaching.

Find out more on their website.


Famed relationship therapist Ester Perel gives advice on intimacy, careers, and self-improvement – Summit

A Look at Our Positive Relationships Masterclass

Another great option for practitioners who want to deepen their understanding of positive psychology and relationships is our Positive Relationships Masterclass. This course will teach you the key principles of successful relationships and give you access to hands-on tools.

You will be provided with the content needed to design and deliver a client coaching, development, or therapy program so that you can help people build supportive relationships at scale.

17 Exercises for Positive, Fulfilling Relationships

Empower others with the skills to cultivate fulfilling, rewarding relationships and enhance their social wellbeing with these 17 Positive Relationships Exercises [PDF].

Created by experts. 100% Science-based.

Resources From

Looking for even more tools to support your relationship coaching practice? Check out the following free worksheets and activities.

  • About Your Partner is a fun worksheet to deepen connections between partners. Questions explore values and preferences in several different categories.
  • Things I Love contains icebreaker-style questions from 10 categories to help get to know each other and encourage stronger relationships.
  • This Assertive Communication worksheet fosters learning healthy communication styles. It helps clients differentiate between aggressive, assertive, and passive styles.
  • The Active Listening Reflection worksheet can be used to practice using active listening skills. There is a list of several active listening techniques, where the client is invited to try each and reflect on what worked and what didn’t.
  • When communicating with a partner, the overuse of “you” statements can begin to feel judgmental. This Turning “You” Into “I” worksheet helps rephrase questions in a more open and compassionate way.
  • The Valuing My Partner worksheet invites clients to reflect on the things they value in their partner. It helps shift from a negative focus to a positive one.
  • Relationship Qualities is a worksheet useful to help couples explore their shared strengths.

If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others build healthy relationships, this collection contains 17 validated positive relationships tools for practitioners. Use them to help others form healthier, more nurturing, and life-enriching relationships.

A Take-Home Message

While life coaching is an exciting and growing field, to be truly successful as a coach, it helps to choose a niche. New coaches may believe that choosing a niche will lead to fewer clients, but it’s actually the opposite. When you have expertise in a specific area, it helps to set you apart from the many coaches out there (Dean, 1999).

If you have a passion for working with couples and helping people reach their goals in relationships, then becoming a relationship coach may just be the perfect fit for you. If the idea of helping reignite the spark between two people excites you, you are on the right track. Or maybe you’d like to help managers learn how to better interact with their employees, design team building, or work in conflict resolution.

The world of relationship coaching is rich with possibilities, and it is only growing. Now is a great time to become a coach.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Positive Relationships Exercises for free.


  • Allen, K. (2016). Theory, research, and practical guidelines for family life coaching. Springer.
  • CoachRanks. (n.d.) Finally, accurate coaching market size data for 2023 & 2024. Retrieved from
  • Dean, B. (1999). Marketing a virtual coaching practice on a national scale. The Independent Practitioner, 19(3), 112–115.
  • Hart, V., Blattner, J., & Leipsic, S. (2001). Coaching versus therapy: A perspective. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 53(4), 229–237.
  • International Coaching Federation. (2020). 2020 ICF global coaching study: Executive Summary. Retrieved from
  • International Coaching Federation. (2023). ICF Global Coaching Study. Retrieved from
  • Nelson-Jones, R. (2006). Human relationship skills: coaching and self-coaching. Routledge.
  • Stout-Rostron, S. (Ed.). (2019). Transformational coaching to lead culturally diverse teams. Routledge.


What our readers think

  1. Melissa F.

    Hello, I just started my grad degree in Marriage and Family Therapy (online school), but while I am completing that degree part-time, I’d really like to build a coaching practice. I am absolutely an evangelist when it comes to CBT and Positive Psychology. I just can’t afford the Masterclass, or I would be all-in. I am specifically interested in a very niche practice: I’m wanting to build an intimacy coaching practice geared towards women with sexual intimacy/motherhood/self-image issues. From the time our bio clocks start telling us to have kids, through pregnancy and momming, and on through menopause…we go through a lot mentally and physically. I know I can help guide women through this time. But, I am having trouble finding a program that I know will be of a high quality, and have the benefits of a CBT/research-based foundation. Would you have some thoughts as to where to steer me? Thank you so much for your time!

    • Julia Poernbacher

      Hi Melissa,

      It’s great to see your enthusiasm for CBT and Positive Psychology, and your desire to specialize in intimacy coaching for women. Since you’re looking for high-quality, research-based programs without the high costs, here are some streamlined tips:

      – Look for specialized certifications in sex therapy or intimacy coaching that emphasize CBT and Positive Psychology.
      – Focus on programs offered by reputable institutions or professional associations in psychology and therapy.
      – Seek programs with financial aid options or scholarships to manage costs.

      Networking with professionals in your intended field can also offer personal insights and recommendations for suitable programs.

      I hope this helps!

      Warm regards,
      Julia | Community Manager

  2. Marlene

    I’m interested in being a relationship coach. I don’t have any background on this area just have the desire to learn about this area as I struggled all my life to express myself. I’m an empathetic person, who loves to listen and help people and I have been doing that without a certification. I love to study about human behavior, spirituality, a bit of psychology…I just love to learn. I’m a hopeless romantic and that’s the reason I would love to help people in their relationships and even with their sexuality and intimacy and I’m a very sensitive person. Where should I start?

    • Julia Poernbacher

      Hi Marlene,

      Great to hear you’re interested in becoming a relationship coach!
      Begin by checking out the courses listed in the article and see if anything captures your interest. If so, pursuing that course may be a great way to educate yourself on becoming a relationship coach. Aside from formal training, it would also be an option to gain practical experience by working with clients, either through volunteer work or internships. This will allow you to put your skills and knowledge into practice.

      I hope this information helps you, and I wish you the best of luck on your journey ahead.
      Kind regards,
      Julia | Community Manager

  3. NT Zantsi

    I’m a Social worker dealing with minor victims of crime. I’m interested in doing the course on Relationships with couples, singles, widows, divorced, between the managers and their subordinates as well as relationship courses generally.

  4. Petra van Vliet

    Hi. I am a social worker and counsellor, with extensive e pertinence in mental health. I am interested in becoming a dating coach for neuro divergent people. Can you recommend any courses? I live in Australia.

  5. Felicity

    I’m interested in being a professional coach- relationship.
    I have an intense background of counselling in different aspects and I also do it on daily basis, but would like to do it at a professional level now.
    Please let me know about the costs.

    • Nicole Celestine, Ph.D.

      Hi Felicity,

      Exciting that you’re looking to become a coach! Ultimately, the costs involved in undergoing training and certification will depend on the program(s) you choose. There are no formal training or certification requirements, however, we generally recommend becoming certified under a ICF-registered training provider:

      I would recommend getting in touch with the different certification providers listed to inquire about cost, as these may have changed (as well as their use of virtual vs. in-person modalities) since 2020.

      – Nicole | Community Manager

  6. Marie

    I would love to become a Dating Coach!
    Can you provide more information on this .

    Thank you very much!

    • Nicole Celestine, Ph.D.

      Hi Marie,

      That’s very exciting! You’ll find a good step-by-step guide on becoming a dating coach here:

      Our piece of advice would be for any training you undertake to ensure it’s by an ICF certified training provider. That way, you know you’ll be getting high-quality training, and your credential following the training will be recognized globally:

      Good luck!

      – Nicole | Community Manager

  7. Funmi Ibitayo

    So what is it going to cost me to be a coach before specializing on becoming a relationship coach.

    • Nicole Celestine, Ph.D.

      Hi Funmi,

      There are many affordable coaching courses you can undertake to grasp the basics. We have a blog post reviewing several of these if you are interested, with many affordable options. The right course for you will really depend on how comprehensive a course you’re looking for, and whether you also need support to set up your business and marketing. Udemy also has some great introductory training options, some of which include accreditation, for less than $50.

      We also offer a series of comprehensive Masterclasses if you’re interested in developing a coaching program from a Positive Psychology perspective.

      Hope this helps!

      – Nicole | Community Manager

  8. Brij bhatia

    Hello, i am interested to learn and become a relationship coach. I can afford Tier 1 payment plan. Please guide me a way forward. Thank you.

    • Nicole Celestine, Ph.D.

      Hi Brij,

      That’s very exciting! Could you let me know which specific course you were interested in? That way I can point you in the right direction.

      – Nicole | Community Manager

  9. Edna Dabundeh

    Hello, I am interested in doing relationship coaching and mentoring. May I have more information on this please? What’s the cost for these course and how do I get to apply and how long is the training for. Also is an online training or face to face? Please get back to me on the above.

    • Nicole Celestine, Ph.D.

      Hi Edna,

      Thank you for your interest. Did you know which of the specific courses described in the article interests you? Each will have different modalities, costs, and durations, so it really depends on what you’re interested in, your budget, and what time you can commit. If you let me know some of these details, I should be able to point you in the right direction 🙂

      – Nicole | Community Manager


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