How to Become a Relationship Coach: 7 Certification Courses

Relationship coaching trainingCoaching is a vibrant and growing field.

According to the 2020 Global Coaching Study released by the International Coaching Federation (ICF; 2020), worldwide there are now more than 71,000 coach practitioners, an increase of 33% from 2015.

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, 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 empowerment

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.

 

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.

 

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.

Find out more 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.

 

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.

 

Resources From PositivePsychology.com

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.

 

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.

  • International Coaching Federation. (2020). 2020 ICF global coaching study: Executive Summary. Retrieved from https://coachingfederation.org/app/uploads/2020/09/FINAL_ICF_GCS2020_ExecutiveSummary.pdf
  • Allen, K. (2016). Theory, research, and practical guidelines for family life coaching. Springer.
  • 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.
  • 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.

About the Author

Dr. Amanda O'Bryan is a certified wellness coach and specializes in using evidence-based practices to empower her clients to shift the ways that stress and anxiety impact their lives. She also works as a freelance writer, creating psychoeducational content. Her goal with writing is to help people understand themselves better by presenting cognitive science in a fun and interesting way.

Leave a Reply