Graduates applying for AARC membership need to have completed specialised training in relationship counselling that enables development in the following areas:

1. Personal Awareness
The most effective tool the counsellor has is his or her own sense of self. The greater the level of self and other awareness the counsellor has, the greater will be the capacity to respond to the client(s) and to choose appropriate tools for creative intervention.
Training programmes need to emphasise moment by moment awareness of the counsellor’s self in relationship and the counsellor’s ability to articulate this awareness.

This involves the ability to:

  •          Recognise the uniqueness and experience of oneself and that of others.
  •          Communicate one’s awareness of one’s self and others to other human beings.
  •          Monitor events in one’s own life, to make decisions for the future and to recognise this same ability in others.

2. Counselling Skills
Applicants need to be competent in a wide range of counselling skills including the ability: to make initial contact with clients;  to develop rapport; to demonstrate high levels of empathy, flexibility, and the creative use of questions; to use confrontation and challenge; to facilitate communication between the couple, and to use skills within a framework of demonstrated neutrality.

The specialist training in relationship counselling must include the development of:

  •          A deeper level of core relationship counselling skills, including
  •          The ability to recognise the complexity of patterns in relationship issues and to work with these to produce change.

3. Theoretical Knowledge
Applicants need to have a theoretical understanding of human behaviour and the tools being used in the counselling room. In relationship counselling this includes knowledge of the social, legal, and ethical factors that influence relational life. Specifically, training should cover the following:

3.1.      Individual developmental theory as it impacts on family relationships.

3.2.      A set of theoretical models for understanding relationships, and developing a therapeutic perspective for relationship counselling. These    models must allow for an appreciation of both individual, couple, family, and societal factors in relationship work e.g. systemic, behavioural, existential, humanist, somatic, psychodynamic, etc.

3.3.      A socio-historical understanding of relationship in our society.

3.4.      Knowledge of the counselling process plus a basic understanding of the various schools of counselling.

3.5.      Theoretical and therapeutic models for approaching common specific relational problems e.g.:

i.)     Sexuality and sexual counselling.

ii)     Alcohol and drug dependence.

iii)    Psychiatric and/or physical illness in one spouse, including the role of depression in a relationship e.g. post-natal depression.

iv)    Domestic violence. Physical and sexual abuse of spouse or children and associated legal issues.

v)     Extra-marital and other triadic relationships.

vi)    Developmental stages of family life and the key conflict and transition points, e.g. birth, adolescence, midlife, moving house.

vii)   Grief and loss e.g. death, disability and effects of trauma.

viii)  Potential relationship outcomes of long term abuse of either spouse in childhood whether sexual or otherwise.

3.6.      A theoretical and basic legal framework for understanding separation and divorce; associated aspects of grief and loss; issues of single lifestyle, parenting, re-partnering and step parenting.

3.7.      A knowledge of professional ethics as it relates to counselling in general and the specific ethical issues of couple counselling.

3.8.      Introduction to supervision, professional consultation, personal psychotherapy and on-going counsellor survival and growth.

3.9.      How and when to make appropriate referrals.

4.0 Conclusion
The Australian Association of Relationship Counsellors (AARC) Inc. does not accredit training. Each applicant is considered fully on his or her own merits and their individual training path assessed. No one training programme can offer, or in any way advertise, that it leads to AARC membership.Programmes that have been designed to meet the guidelines, or part thereof, as outlined in this document can state: “AARC Inc. guidelines have been taken into account in the design of this course.” Such statement must be in the “small print” of any advertising material and must not in any way be used to suggest AARC Inc. approval or endorsement of the course, nor offer any guarantee of AARC Inc. acceptance.

Clinical Competence

The purpose of this statement is to indicate criteria for assessing a counsellor’s ability to perform adequately as a relationship counsellor. AARC Inc defines relationship counselling as counselling in which the focus is on the relationship between the clients. Ethical standards which govern relationships between counsellors of the Association and clients are established and reprinted on the application form and separately. Counsellors must adhere to these standards in addition to maintaining their professional growth and development.

  1. A clinically competent counselloris recognised by professional peers, appropriate authorities and satisfied clients and demonstrates the ability to:
  • Form and maintain a therapeutic relationship.
  • Produce results. i.e. be dependable in the assistance given and in helping clients find solutions to presenting problems.
  • Give appropriate reasons for counselling behaviour.
  1. Clinically competent counsellors can demonstrate creatively:
  • Understanding of persons and their relationships.
  • An explicit knowledge of theory.
  • Use of personal characteristics such as intelligence, impartiality, flexibility, empathy, integrity, and openness to learning.
  1. In the process of counselling the clinically competent counsellor will:
  • Respect and facilitate a partnership between counsellor and clients.
  • Comprehend the clients’ presenting problems.
  • Incorporate the presenting problem and relationship difficulties within a therapeutic framework.
  • Recognise the limits of his/her professional competence and refer clients when appropriate.
  • Contract with the clients for particular and achievable goals.
  • Formulate methods or strategies to reach these goals.
  • Self disclose and challenge appropriately.
  • Initiate, facilitate and monitor the process(es) required.
  • Modify goals and process(es) as appropriate.
  • Carry the process(es) through to conclusion.
  • Give a critical account of his/her behaviour to others including actively seeking ongoing supervision.
  1. A clinically competent counsellor will undertake ongoing professional development and supervision.