A to Z of relationship counselling

Before you decide to begin counselling – as an individual, couple or family – your journey will often start with a question.

The questions can be very general – how can counselling help me? Does relationship counselling work?

When the root of your problem is known, the question can be quite specific: will counselling help with my anxiety? Can counselling save my marriage?

To help you decide if counselling is the right option, The Spark has put together a brief A to Z of relationship counselling.

Here we list the most common life challenges and issues individuals, couples and families come to The Spark for support with.


Abuse and relationship counselling

Abuse can take many forms including physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Abuse occurs when your treatment by other individuals or groups becomes harmful to your health and wellbeing.

If you feel in threat or danger as a result of an abusive relationship there are specialist agencies like Women’s Aid and Men’s Advice Line that can provide immediate support.

relationship abuse

Relationships should not be abusive. Often the abuser can be in a relationship with their victim and control or manipulate their relationships with friends and family.

When you feel safe enough to explore these issues, relationship counselling for abuse can help you deal with how these experiences have made you feel and have negatively impacted your life.

Find out more about counselling on freephone 0808 802 2088 or make an enquiry online.

Addiction and relationship counselling

Addiction is a scenario where you become excessively dependent upon something in your daily life.

In many cases, addiction is a result of other issues and problems that you may or may not be aware of. The addiction, therefore, becomes a temporary escape from them.

We can become addicted to many things including alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography and gambling. The impact of addiction on relationships can be severe.

Marriages, families and life-long friendships can be broken by addiction.

relationship addiction

Relationship counselling for addiction can help you determine the underlying cause of your dependence and work towards stopping your addictive behaviour and its negative impact upon your relationships.

Find out more on freephone 0808 802 2088 or make an enquiry online.

Affairs and relationship counselling

Affairs are one of the most significant causes of relationship breakdown. The nature of an affair can vary between couples but ultimately it represents a major breach of trust within a relationship. The advent of social media and digital technology has increased the scope for breaches of trust within relationships.

A sexual relationship may represent the ultimate betrayal however others forms of infidelity are now commonplace.

Texting or sexting another individual, sharing deep emotional secrets outwith a marriage and secret online relationships are only a few modern examples.

relationship affairs

Counselling for affairs and infidelity can help individuals or couples understand where the desire to have an affair stemmed from. Counselling can help to process the feelings of mistrust, betrayal and anger created by an affair.

Where a couple has decided to continue with their relationship, counselling can help rebuild trust and deal with the issues that led to an affair.

Find out more on freephone 0808 802 2088 or make an enquiry online.

Anger and relationship counselling

Feelings of anger are a perfectly normal and natural emotion. Excessive and uncontrollable anger, however, can be problematic for you, your family and your relationships socially and in the workplace.

relationship anger

Some individuals internalise this excess anger which can lead to issues such as addiction, self-harm or depression. Those who do not can find themselves breaking or compromising relationships with friends and family.

Conversely, relationship problems can be a trigger for anger management issues which unchecked can lead to abuse and the irretrievable breakdown of relationships.

Relationship counselling for anger can help individuals understand the source(s) of their anger, develop strategies to cope with the triggers of anger and understand the harmful impact upon their relationships.

Find out more on freephone 0808 802 2088 or make an enquiry online.

Anxiety and relationship counselling

Anxiety describes a set of emotions and physical sensations experienced during periods of worry about recent or future events.

Feelings of unease, worry, fear and panic are common along with physical reactions tied to our in-built ‘fight or flight’ response.

relationship anxiety

We all feel anxious from time to time but ongoing anxiety can stem from distressing experiences or harmful relationships in the past or present.

Relationship counselling for anxiety can help you to understand the root of your feelings of panic and their link to past/present relationships.

Counselling can also provide coping mechanisms and strategies to use in situations that are likely to trigger panic attacks/anxiety.

Find out more on freephone 0808 802 2088 or make an enquiry online.

Bullying and relationship counselling

Bullying is sadly a common feature of many relationships between partners, within families and in the workplace.

Through physical, emotional or verbal attacks bullying can adversely affect individuals in terms of their confidence, self-esteem and ability to function, generating feelings of anxiety and fear.

Bullying can be both obvious and subtle. Skilled bullies can create the negative sensations of bullying without a clear or obvious action.

relationship bullying

Relationship counselling for bullying can help you to understand the causes of the actions by others, develop strategies to deal with bullying and understand how past/present relationships shaped these experiences.

Where bullying has been covert, counselling can make the actions and consequences explicit and consequently make it easier to deal with the bullying actions and their negative impacts.

We also provide specialist Children and Young People counselling which can help with bullying in educational and social settings.

Find out more on freephone 0808 802 2088 or make an enquiry online.

Children and relationship counselling

Throughout a child’s life, there can be periods when the child and their family will need additional relationship support and guidance. The challenges of life can bring up difficult emotions or unwanted behaviours that place strain upon relationships within the family.


relationship children

These can be between parent(s) and child, siblings or children and their own social connections in the community (e.g. school friends and teachers). In some cases, parents may even clash over how to bring up a child if they hold differing views, values or parenting styles.

Childhood issues, if left unchecked and unresolved, can carry over into adulthood. This can further negatively impact important relationships and the ability of the individual to function happily and effectively.

Parents are role models for their children and often are unaware of the impact of their own behaviours until they are exhibited in their child.

Counselling for children and young people can help them understand where the difficult emotions and behaviours come from. Understanding can then provide a foundation for developing ways to deal with those issues, emotions and behaviours.

Find out more on freephone 0808 802 2088 or make an enquiry online.

Debt and relationship counselling

Debt has become a daily reality for adults in Scotland.

Debt can be a necessary means to support significant life changes like securing a mortgage to buy a house or starting a business.

Uncontrolled debts like credit cards and pay-day loans, however, can lead to significant personal issues and relationship problems.

relationship debt

Debt is a very common cause of relationship problems and relationship breakdowns. The pressure of debt, financially and emotionally, can be intolerable.

Counselling for couples and families struggling with debt will not provide practical ways to manage your financial situation.

Counselling can, however, help you to understand the underlying reasons why debt has become an issue in your life, where it is damaging key relationships and how to address those problems and stressors.

Find out more on freephone 0808 802 2088 or make an enquiry online.

For practical financial advice on managing debt visit Money Advice Scotland.

Depression and relationship counselling

Depression is an increasingly common illness that affects an individual’s mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. The illness impacts on the person as a whole, compromising their thinking, sleeping, eating and emotional state.

Difficult relationships in the past or present can result in depression. Often it can be difficult for someone suffering from depression to maintain important relationships.

depression relationship

Depression is not simply feeling a bit ‘down’ and cannot simply be ‘shaken off’.

Counselling for depression can assist in understanding the underlying relationship issues that have contributed to the illness. Research has shown a direct link between relationship counselling and recovery from depression.

Furthermore, counselling can help tackle the spillover effect of depression upon relationships with partners and family.

Find out more on freephone 0808 802 2088 or make an enquiry online.

Eating disorders and relationship counselling

Eating disorders are a growing issue with potentially life-threatening consequences. Typically eating disorders are characterised by an unhealthy relationship with food.

This leads to extreme behaviour with regards to food and health in general, consequently impacting upon relationships with family, friends and loved ones.

Counselling for eating disorders – as part of a dual-diagnosis approach with medical specialists – can help sufferers understand the underlying causes of their unhealthy relationship with food.

Counselling can help with challenging the thought processes that can lead to unhealthy eating behaviours and tackle the negative impacts upon their closest relationships.

relationship eating disorder

Family counselling can also be beneficial when an eating disorder has impacted the whole family.

Triggers for eating disorders can come from difficult family relationships or experiences. In those instances counselling that is focused on the whole family unit can help determine the root causes of the eating disorder.

Find out more on freephone 0808 802 2088 or make an enquiry online.

Feeling down and relationship counselling

We all feel down and upset at times in life. In many cases, relationship problems can be the source of those feelings.

When a marriage is struggling or a relationship has come to an end, it can be helpful to talk to a relationship counsellor. This is particularly the case if the issues continually cause unhappiness or we feel upset on a regular basis.

relationship sad

Typically we will speak to family or friends when we are upset or struggling in life. But sometimes that is not practical. Your unhappiness may be the result of the state of your relationship with them.

Alternatively, you may be concerned about upsetting them also. The chance to speak to someone who is completely impartial can be a better option. Furthermore, it can be beneficial to start dealing with an issue before it worsens.

Relationship counselling offers the chance to speak openly, freely and confidentially about issues you are facing. It can help you discover the roots of unhappiness in your life – like problematic relationships – and determine better ways to deal with them.

Find out more on freephone 0808 802 2088 or make an enquiry online.

Health problems and relationship counselling

Physical health problems are a very challenging aspect of life. Occurring unexpectedly they can negatively impact our mental and emotional wellbeing.

Significant life changes can result from health problems, thus impacting on the status of our relationships with our partner, family and friends. As a consequence, our relationships can be put under severe pressure.

Deteriorating health can impact our ability to maintain good relationships. It can also place a great strain on our relationships with those who are trying to help and support us.

Whilst counselling cannot help with physical health problems, it can be useful in terms of mental and emotional health.

relationship health

Whether coming to terms with a diagnosis, going through treatment or fulfilling the role of carer, counselling can help you to understand the whirlwind of emotions.

Counselling can also be beneficial to partners in terms of coping with and managing the change in their relationship with their partner or loved one.

Find out more on freephone 0808 802 2088 or make an enquiry online.

Infertility and relationship counselling

Undertaking treatment for infertility is one of the most emotionally challenging processes a couple can go through.

From initial diagnosis to the emotionally draining and potentially costly treatment itself, the process can place an unimaginable strain on a relationship. Infertility can also create relationship issues with friends and family who are unable to empathise with your situation.

relationship infertility

Counselling can help support couples to process their diagnosis and maintain a strong, loving relationship throughout. Counselling for infertility can help manage the uncertainty of the process and the emotional highs and lows that follow.

Furthermore, the complexities raised by some forms of infertility treatment like egg or sperm donation can place additional strain upon a relationship.

Counselling can support couples through this process and help them find ways to positively deal with the emotional strain.

Find out more on freephone 0808 802 2088 or make an enquiry online.

Loss, bereavement and relationship counselling

We all experience bereavement in our lives. The loss of a loved one can be the ultimate ending of a loving relationship.

Bereavement can cause a wide range of unpleasant emotions with anger, sadness, regret and denial being common responses to losing a loved one.

relationship bereavement

Every individual is different in how they react to bereavement but relationship counselling can help to understand and work through the loss of an important relationship.

In some cases, relationship counselling is valuable in processing feelings around a difficult relationship that was not resolved prior to the death of a friend or family member.

Find out more on freephone 0808 802 2088 or make an enquiry online.

Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland also offer free support services for those enduring the loss of a loved one.

Parenting and relationship counselling

Parenting is one of life’s greatest joys but also one of life’s greatest challenges.

The life of a parent is a constant cycle of change and transition. From bonding with a new-born to navigating school and adolescence, the natural cycle of life events means parents and their parenting techniques need to constantly change and evolve.

Parents place a great deal of pressure on themselves to cope with all of these life transitions. Counselling can help parents cope with the periods of change in a child’s life.

relationship parenting

Where there are particular issues within a family unit – constant arguments or ill-discipline – counselling can help parents find solutions to those problems. Differing perspectives on how a child should be brought up can also be a source of friction and division between parents.

Counselling can also be beneficial for parents who are separating or divorcing by laying a foundation for their future relationship as co-parents of a child or children.

Find out more on freephone 0808 802 2088 or make an enquiry online.

Pornography and relationship counselling

Pornography and how it impacts upon relationships is both a complex and current issue. The consumption of pornography can create issues that place a significant strain on a relationship.

Partners may have differing views about its suitability, there may be secrecy and mistrust associated with its use and ultimately issues with addiction.

Even when partners view pornographic material together, trust issues can emerge over whether it is also viewed out with that setting.

relationship pornography

Counselling for pornography addiction can help individuals determine and understand the underlying cause of your porn dependence.

Counselling can also help individuals work towards stopping their addictive behaviour and challenge the negative impact on their relationships.

Where the use of pornography has become an issue within a relationship, counselling can support couples working through issues with trust, secrecy and intimacy.

Find out more on freephone 0808 802 2088 or make an enquiry online.

Postnatal depression and relationship counselling

7 out of 10 couples say that post-natal depression negatively impacted their relationship.

Post-natal depression can often result in an effective temporary ‘stop’ on a relationship between a couple. All of their time and effort is focused on mum, baby and trying to overcome the illness.

relationship post natal depression

If you think you are suffering from post-natal depression you should first seek support through your GP or midwife.

Counselling for post-natal depression can help in terms of strengthening the relationships between mum and dad and baby.

The Spark aims to provide support and therapeutic care to mums, dads and the wider family unit as you deal with post-natal depression.

Find out more on freephone 0808 802 2088 or make an enquiry online.

Pregnancy and relationship counselling

Pregnancy is a time of great joy for a couple as they prepare for the birth of a child. It is also a time when the relationship dynamic between a couple changes.

Pregnancy marks a transition when mum needs to focus more on her baby and a father more on his partner.

Roles and responsibilities change within the household. Sources of income change, financial stability is tested and life will never quite be the same again.

Health concerns may arise for mum or baby and anxieties around providing for another mouth to feed can overwhelm.

relationship pregnancy

Sadly pregnancy can bring into sharp focus any relationship difficulties that have remained under the surface previously. The shifting dynamic, changing roles, health or financial concerns can expose issues that have not been dealt with as partners become parents.

Relationship counselling during pregnancy can help to address any underlying relationship issues that emerge during this time.

It can also deal with the fears and anxieties that might emerge as a result of becoming an expectant parent.

Find out more on freephone 0808 802 2088 or make an enquiry online.

Redundancy and relationship counselling

Redundancy – losing your job because the work you do is no longer required – can impact your life emotionally, mentally and financially. Practically it can cause anxieties over our ability to pay the bills. Emotionally it can create feelings of confusion, lack of purpose/identity and lead to problems with confidence and self-esteem. In terms of relationships – with our partner, friends, family or former colleagues – redundancy can make them a source of further anxiety and unhappiness.

relationship redundancy

Counselling can help you explore how redundancy has impacted upon your self-esteem and your relationships. The process can also help with issues like low self-esteem by helping you change how you view yourself and your role in the workforce. Find out more on freephone 0808 802 2088 or make an enquiry online.


Relationships are what we are all about at The Spark. They are at the core of our lives in every way because we have relationships with everything. Relationship counselling focuses on understanding why we feel certain emotions and why we respond the way we do within the context of our closest and most important relationships.


These relationships can be with our partner, children, friends or work colleagues. In the 21st century, we have also now formed significant relationship attachments to things like our mobile phones, social media activity and cosmetic surgery. Once we understand why and how we behave within these relationships, counselling can help to change how we interact.

Counselling can help us to establish and build stronger, happier relationships in our everyday lives.

Find out more on freephone 0808 802 2088 or make an enquiry online.

Self esteem and relationship counselling

Individuals suffering from low self-esteem can experience life from a very negative perspective.

Typically they might consider themselves worthless and unimportant to the friends and family they share relationships with. Life, in general, may feel like a hopeless drag and a resulting lack of confidence can negatively impact their ability to maintain and build good relationships.


Counselling for low self-esteem can help you explore how you feel about yourself and consider which relationships and experiences have shaped this attitude. The process of counselling for low self-esteem can help you to change how you view yourself.

Find out more on freephone 0808 802 2088 or make an enquiry online.

Self harm and relationship counselling

Self-harm takes many different forms. Some are obvious and others much more hidden and subtle. Ultimately it is a coping strategy that highlights the existence of an underlying issue causing unhappiness and pain.

By definition self-harm can create secrecy between couples, establishing a barrier of understanding which puts pressure on the relationship.

Partners may struggle to manage their own emotions when they discover a loved one self-harms. Thus both sides of the relationship suffer.

Counselling for self-harm can help address the underlying causes of this type of behaviour. Where it is due in part to relationship issues, counselling can provide insight into the elements of a relationship that are triggering self-harm.

Counselling can also be beneficial for partners of those self-harming by helping them come to terms with the condition and how best to support their loved one.

Find out more on freephone 0808 802 2088 or make an enquiry online.

Stress and relationship counselling

Life is naturally stressful. A degree of stress can be beneficial in our lives – helping us to focus on important tasks, solve problems and play a part in driving us on towards our ambitions.

Excessive stress and/or stress over an extended period of time however can be damaging to our health and our most valued relationships.

Relationships can be a source of stress as well as a victim of its impact. Difficult relationships with our partner, children, family or friends can be sources of considerable stress.

relationship stress

Counselling for stress can help you understand the causes of stress in your life. These can be specific relationships with people or certain situations.

Counselling can also help you develop coping mechanisms and strategies that you can use in everyday situations to better manage your stress levels.

 Find out more on freephone 0808 802 2088 or make an enquiry online.

This guide is not exhaustive. Where The Spark cannot assist with we can signpost you to specialists who can. Freephone 0808 802 2088 or complete the enquiry form below.