The Challenge:

​Providing high quality relationship counselling at an accessible price

Others’ Solutions:

Using volunteers, new trainees or therapists trained in individual therapy

The Problem:

​’Untrained therapists increase couples’ likelihood of divorce’ – Dr John Gottman, Marriage Researcher

‘We don’t trust a GP or a neurologist to perform open heart surgery on us, so why do we believe that a therapist, with only a couple of courses in couple therapy, even with tons of experience working with individuals, is enough to work effectively with couples?’ ​​- Dr Monica Mansilla, Mindful Integrated Relationship Therapy

Our Solution:


Who are they? Qualified counsellors, members of our Relate Internship Programme, who are committed to becoming experts in relationship therapy. They are able to see clients while still completing their specialist training in couples’ therapy and their work is monitored and supervised directly by our senior Relate team.

What does it cost?

As the Interns progress through their training, their rate increases, from $40 to $100 for individual appointments and from $60 to $150 for couples appointments. The internship usually takes 12 -18 months, so these increases are likely to happen across several months, but within the first year of therapy. You can learn more about our Interns and book to see them at affordable hourly rates here.


  1. The pre-client training means that interns begin their work knowing exactly what factors predict divorce and happiness in relationship.
  2. Interns sit in as observers with the senior team – this lets them see more experienced therapists at work and get a stronger sense of confidence and flow.
  3. They have some structured approaches to follow in sessions and a way to evaluate their progress in therapy.
  4. They are not alone – they train in a team – this means they learn faster and support each other
  5. Interns have access to experts to help you or them – our senior team has decades of experience and a wide range of specialisations – we are a cup of coffee away.
  6. Sessions are videoed and self-reviewed after each session – this is an amazing learning opportunity that further equips our interns for success with clients.
  7. Interns are directly mentored by Steven Dromgool.  Steven is cross trained in multiple relationship counselling approaches and a member of International Clinical Faculty for Relational Path Institute, author of PORT training and co-creator of Mindful Integrated Relationship Therapy (MIRT).
  8. The interns continue training in Presence Oriented Relationship Therapy (PORT) throughout their internship.  At the end of the internship the interns will be among the most qualified relationship clinicians in the country.
  9. Our interns are trained to refer – in the event that a couple needs more than the intern can deliver they will support couples to a more suitable member of the team – or may have a senior team member join them for a series of sessions
  10. Our interns are exceptionally passionate individuals – Relate invests a lot in our intern team and  they invest a lot of time, energy and love with us.  Our interns are AMAZING! 



Relationship Counselling Funding in NZ – a little history

In April 2014 the National Government cancelled a decades old programme that provided up to 6 hours of counselling for relationships for all New Zealanders citing cost and questionable benefits.

This has resulted in a persistent shortfall and service gap to clients throughout the country.

Affordable counselling means different things to different people. New Zealand historically has had a lot of counselling funded through counselling agencies. This has benefits and in terms of accessibility and has some issues/downsides in terms of quality of delivery and vulnerability to government policy changes.

It is Relate’s belief that completely aside from all of the social benefits of secure loving relationships, the provision of family court counselling funding saved the country money.  Divorcing couples typically cost about 40K per year to the country.  Family court funding was less than 1K.  So success with more than 1 in 40 couples meant the service was self funding.  Given that trained therapists have success rates between 70-85% this service was making the country money.

It is our hope that with a more family oriented prime minister and a stable financial situation that this  decision is revisited.

For those of you with a political bent or simply wanting to have your voice heard we included the letter sent to the government here.

Creating Solutions

In 2018 Relate Road Tour took a road tour around New Zealand providing training to therapists around the country.  in 2020 we pioneered an online training in PORT and in 2022 – we hope to advance this into a full service combining digital delivery for self paced training combined with online mentoring. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Counselling is very individual and can feel like a big step if you’ve never been to see a therapist before.
To have your questions answered …

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