Relational Couples Coaching

Relational Couples Coaching

Relational Couples Coaching is based on teaching individuals relational skills that enhance intimacy, which is something we humans were all designed for, crave and deserve.

I apply the principles of Relational Life Therapy (RLT), an approach designed by Terry Real, in all of the couples, family, and individual coaching work I do.  I was attracted to this model of couples coaching because it integrated so much of my previous training and I found the “truth telling” aspect of it very compelling.  I became certified in this brand of coaching several years ago and it dramatically changed the way I do couples coaching–with more successful results!!

By the way, did you know that less than 10% of mental health professionals are truly qualified and competent to provide couples coaching?  This fact helps to explain why so many couples seeking help end up “spinning their wheels” and becoming frustrated in couples coaching.  Be sure to ask what specific training a coach or therapist had in couples coaching and how many years of experience they have in the field. Couples caoching is one of the most difficult types of coaching to achieve positive results.

What is Relational Life Coaching​?

It was developed by Terry Real, a therapist from Boston, MA

  • The basic premise of RLT is that the old 1950‘s model of marriage no longer meets the needs of couples in today’s world.  Yet, this is the default model of marriage on which many couples still rely.
  • Terry Real’s model is based on teaching individuals relational skills that enhance intimacy–something we humans were all designed for, crave, and deserve.
  • He believes that intimacy is a state of wholeness that includes personal attributes of compassion, connectedness, authenticity, and openness.

How Relational Coaching​ works

RLT departs from traditional coaching in a few ways which is why it so effective.

  • It is a short term, results oriented coaching that is designed for dramatic and significant results.
  • There is a therapeutic contract for doing the work in either three or six month intervals. The progress is evaluated and decisions are made to continue or not.
  • Within the first few sessions, the couple is given a “relational diagnosis” based on comprehensive data gathering by the therapist. The diagnosis is rich with what needs to change and which skills need to be acquired.
  • Couples are kindly told the “truth” about the areas in the relationship where they are “off” with their partners and need to change. This is where the therapist might need to “take sides”–something that traditional couples coaching does not do. I tell couples that “I take turns taking sides.” Most often both partners have their share of individual changes to make.
  • Rather than meeting one hour weekly, RLT coaches meet with their couples clients for two hour sessions every other week with the expectation that they are working hard on their skills between sessions.

Relational Life Coaching​ Skills

  • Terry Real’s book, The New Rules of Marriage, is the “textbook” for this coaching.
  • The focus is on each individual doing their own work, implying that if each person is doing their work, the couples system will begin to change synergistically.
  • You learn about the role your family of origin had on your relational behaviors.
  • You learn about being “one up” or “one down” and being “walled off” or “boundaryless.”
  • You learn about your “losing strategies” and the “core negative image” of each other.
  • You learn about “containing” and “protective” boundaries to create safe communication which allows for enhanced levels of intimacy.
  • You learn a method for communicating where there is a specific “speaker” and “listener” role that allows each person to feel heard and validated.
  • You learn about managing shame and self-esteem.
  • Learning these skills creates a sense of relational competency that expands to all of your relationships. You can’t go wrong with this coaching model!!


The New Rules of Marriage book or audiobook
Terry Real holds couples workshops in the Minneapolis area twice a year
​Terry Real’s website:

I hope I have the opportunity to help you
with the changes you are seeking!

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