Train to be a couples therapist with Tavistock Relationships

Find out how to get into couples counselling from those in the know.

Tavistock Relationships is calling on people considering a career change, or already working in the psychotherapy sector, to look at training and career opportunities provided by the internationally renowned charity at its two London clinics.

Tavistock Relationships offers training programmes in Counselling, Psychotherapy and Psychosexual Therapy, ranging from introductory and specialist programmes to masters and doctorate level.

Dr Damian McCann, Head of Learning and Development, Couple Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist and Clinical Lecturer, at Tavistock Relationships, talks about his path to become a couple therapist and his work with same-sex couples.

Can you tell us how you got into couple counselling?

Well, initially, I studied social work and was employed in both adult and child and adolescent mental health services. I then trained as a family and systemic psychotherapist and my clinical doctorate was concerned with understanding the meaning and impact of violence in the couple relationships of gay men. My decision to subsequently train in couple psychotherapy was informed by the awareness that although couple therapy was at the heart of my practice, I had not as yet undertaken a specific training in couple therapy itself.

My attraction to Tavistock Relationships was based largely on its reputation as a centre of excellence for training and research concerning couple relationships and I was also heartened by its openness to gender and sexuality in both theory and practice. I found the training fascinating and my contribution to the seminars was welcomed and respected.

What happened after you qualified?

Throughout my training, I continued to work part-time as a consultant family and systemic psychotherapist with the NHS, and so was able to continue developing my couple psychotherapy training.

In fact when a post became available with Tavistock Relationships, I applied and was appointed to the faculty and over the past eight years, have, along with others, contributed to the development of thinking in regard to gender and sexual diversity relating to our work with couples. I have published a number of papers on my work with LGBTQ couples and have lectured both nationally and internationally on the topic of working with same-sex couples.

Why is there a need for LGBTQ therapists?

Tavistock Relationships is a relatively small organisation and yet we see individuals and couples from all walks of life. In light of this we are very keen to recruit and train a variety of couple therapists to ensure greater representation in our workforce to meet the diverse needs of the clients we see.

Having students from a variety of backgrounds also enriches our training programmes, since having diversity within the student body allows for greater awareness and development of thinking and practice. In addition, we find it interesting that so few men choose to train to become couple therapists and, so, it remains a challenge for us to recruit straight, gay and bisexual men to our training.

What measures have you taken to make LGBTQ students welcome?

We have an ongoing commitment to inclusive training and practice. As an institution, we have been involved in a fundamental process of change directed towards greater inclusivity of LGBTQ couples within the organisation as a whole.

Between 2013 and 2015, we worked closely with PACE (a leading charity concerned with promoting LGBTQ mental health and wellbeing) and were awarded the eQuality Chartermark, which reflected a fundamental shift towards greater integration of gender and sexuality into all of our training programmes, as well as greater visibility of our commitment to LGBTQ couples in our advertising and on our website.

This important work resulted in a 50% increase in referrals of same-sex couples following the award and to date at least 5% of our total referrals identify as same-or-bi-sex couples. Staff at Tavistock Relationships, continue to publish and teach on the themes of gender and sexuality and our CPD programmes reflect our interest and commitment to developing this aspect of our work further.

We are also a member of the LGBTQ Support Network for Psychoanalytic Practitioners and I will be presenting a two day workshop in New York in December entitled ‘A psychoanalytic exploration of the clinical needs of LGBTQI couples’.

What should someone who is interested do?

To undertake training with Tavistock Relationships, I would recommend coming to one of our open evenings (the next one is on Friday 2 November, 6-8pm at our Warren Street Clinic), where you will have the opportunity to talk to other students, therapists and staff. If you wish to apply, then after making an application you will be invited to interview and you could then be offered a place to begin training with us.

The journey usually begins with a foundation or introductory course and there are opportunities of progressing to the full clinical training, with the aim of becoming a registered individual and couple psychotherapist.

To find out more about the training offered by Tavistock Relationships, go to or call 020 7380 8288.

To register to attend their free open evening on Friday 2 November 2018, 6-8pm at 70 Warren Street, London W1T 5PB click here.



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