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A perfectly normal, middle aged well placed and respectable couple turning up to save their marriage with the help of a counsellor was considered an anomaly. As the years went by, the rate of divorce went up further in the UK. When a social phenomenon persists too long, human attitude towards it gets shaped accordingly. The same thing has happened with divorce. The general level of awareness has gone up, and visiting a marriage counsellor is quite common. 

The Role of a Marriage Counsellor 

What does a marriage counsellor do? Let us briefly outline some of the roles that a marriage counsellor may play. 

  • Marriage counsellors are not lawyers. They cannot fight a court case for you. Of course, the average counsellor today is well informed and has a good grasp of legal terms as well. Therefore, they are in a position to give you good, precise advice about the law and its loopholes. They can tell you what is considered offensive in the eyes of the law, and what isn’t, how to deal with your children and property from the legal perspective and what are the benefits granted by the law to married couples. But they have no legal authority.

  • Marriage counsellors are not divorce counsellors. They are trying to save your marriage and not destroy it. And while they are cheaper than lawyers, they are not your best friends, so do not waste time in gossiping with them. They are professionals and their time is precious, even if they are being very kind and gentle with you.

  • Marriage counsellors can also help you with relevant advice on managing finance and property, making wills, educating children, how to get over bad habits, how to communicate with each other, solving dilemmas, and improving your sexual experience. But they are not doctors either, and if they suggest that you get medical help to solve a physical or emotionalproblem, you should follow that advice.

  • Marriage counsellors provide a neutral space where both of you can talk, but with some constraint, and benefit from having a third point of view. It also helps when someone is present only as a listener, and gives a great relief.

How to Find Good Counsellors 

Here are a few pointers on finding suitable marriage counsellors. 
  • Try asking for personal recommendations. It is always better to go to someone who has already helped your friend or neighbour with family related problems. This also acts as a check on the counsellor.

  • The net contains several directories according to area from where you may find a counsellor close enough to your home or work place.

  • You may approach large enterprises such as Relate for their counselling services. This may take some time, but will at least ensure the quality of the counsel offered.

  • You may also approach a government run mediation centre. A mediator deals with both marriage and divorce, and would be probably more aware of the legal and financial implications of both marriage and divorce. You may also bring up problems related to children or ask for suitable sources of medical advice at both Relate and the mediation centre.

Qualities of a Good Counsellor 

This is something for you to judge, but some general points are being given below. 
  • Does the counsellor listen to you? It is very important to have a good listener as counsellor. He or she will not interrupt you while you are speaking, but be attentive enough to have noted down points on which there may be a discussion.

  • Is the counsellor neutral enough? We are all human beings, and have our own opinions, but a counsellor, like a judge, is supposed to be patient and impartial. A prejudiced person will only complicate matters more.

  • Is the counsellor willing to arrange sessions for you alone as well as for both of you? If your spouse is unwilling to come, or is being hostile, there should be provision for one of you to attend at least, have both the joint as well as separate sessions.

  • Is the counsellor thorough with marriage laws? Check the track record before you go in. There is nothing snobbish about this, you are paying for it, and after all, it is your life.


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