Relate and BACP have formed a strategic partnership, with collaborative work focusing around:

  • a social justice campaign on government funding for relationship counselling
  • clinical standards for relationship counselling training

Why are we doing this project?

Data collected through the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme suggests that 61.8% of clients with depression and 58.8% of clients with anxiety recover after receiving couples therapy for depression (NHS Digital, 2016). This is higher than the recovery rates for any other high-intensity intervention. However, clients referred for couples therapy for depression represent only 0.3% of the total number clients who have completed a high-intensity intervention in IAPT (NHS Digital, 2016).

Although IAPT data for couples therapy for depression exists, there is a much larger dataset collected by non-statutory relationship counselling services, such as those services delivered in Relate centres, which has not yet been evaluated. This research will address this gap in the literature. The project also has the potential to further the capacity of both organisations to make cogent and evidence-informed arguments for better funding for relationship counselling services.

What are we trying to find out?

This project aims to increase understanding of:

  • who the clients are in terms of age, gender and ethnicity as well as levels of depressive symptoms and couple communication difficulties
  • the extent to which clients engage with counselling in terms of the number of sessions received
  • how counselling affects depressive symptoms
  • how counselling impacts on relationship issues

What are we doing?

Phase 1 of the project, which looked at who attends couples counselling and why, is complete and the results have been published.

We are still completing the data analysis for phase 2, which looks at the outcomes of couples counselling. The results will be published shortly. 

If you'd like more information about this project, please email