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What’s relationship coaching? How to find a coach

June 17, 2024 - 18 min read
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    Relationship coaching empowers you to navigate the dynamics of any relationship and build up your interpersonal skills with confidence.

    In every corner of your social life, there’s probably a relationship you’d like to improve. 

    Whether learning to collaborate with your team at work, strengthening parent-child bonds, or planning for a new partnership, you want to build deeper and more satisfying connections. And relationship coaching helps you get there.

    The skills you develop with your coach can transform how you relate to others and yourself. 

    With so many different types of life coaching services, it’s difficult to narrow them down. Here’s a guide to relationship coaching with a step-by-step process for choosing the right methods and the right coach for you.

    What is relationship coaching?

    Relationship coaching is a type of coaching that focuses on helping individuals and couples improve their relationships. Unlike therapy, which often delves into the past to understand behaviors and emotions, relationship coaching is typically more present and future-focused. 

    Here are some of the key areas where relationship coaches provide assistance: 

    • Improve communication: Relationship coaches understand dialogue and share effective techniques to help you truly hear each other. They can help you recognize misunderstandings and mixed signals and start expressing your needs with clarity.
    • Resolve conflicts: Everyone disagrees sometimes, but relationship coaches know how to turn those heated moments into opportunities for growth. They'll guide you through healthy conflict resolution, helping you find common ground and compromise.
    • Build and rebuild trust: Whether you're just starting or rebuilding after a breach, trust is the bedrock of any thriving relationship. Coaches assist in establishing and maintaining that foundation over time.
    • Set achievable goals: Dreaming of your ideal relationship? Coaches help transform those aspirations into concrete action plans, complete with support and accountability along the way.
    • Navigate transitions: Relationships ebb in natural shifts–marriage, parenthood, relocation, you name it. Coaches provide steady guidance during these pivotal times, helping you and your partner to adapt with grace.
    • Enhance dating skills: Maybe you're still exploring that special someone. Don't worry, relationship gurus can refine your dating game from the ground up, increasing your odds of lasting love.
    • Identify harmful patterns: We all have ingrained unhealthy habits. Coaches have x-ray vision for recognizing destructive patterns and red flags–both in yourself and others—and helping to replace them with positive behaviors.
    • Increase self-awareness: Coaches nurture self-growth and personal discovery, empowering you to show up as your best self.

    Who do relationship coaches work with?

    You might associate relationship coaching with couples coaching, but this process can help you become closer to more people than just your partner. It might include: 

    • Close friends: Relationship coaches can help you deepen friendships by addressing conflicts, improving understanding, or strengthening trust. Working to build better friendships bolsters your sense of community and belonging and your overall well-being.
    • Family: Whether it’s a parent-child, sibling, or extended family relationship, coaching can foster acceptance between you and your relatives. It could help you resolve long-standing disagreements or adjust to changing family dynamics
    • Romantic relationships: A relationship coach can help you build stronger emotional bonds and unique communication strategies between you and your partner. You can develop a stronger foundation that invites more resilient and equitable decision-making along with more love and care.
    • Business partners: For those sharing professional responsibilities, relationship coaching can help you align goals, manage disagreements, and build healthier dialogue in and out of the workplace. 
    • Coworkers and teams: In professional settings, relationship coaching can help create trust and unity in the workplace. You could learn core teamwork skills, improve team dynamics, or develop tools to provide constructive feedback. Whether you’re on a team or mentoring someone, learning healthy communication will strengthen your professional bond. 

    While you might consider working with a relationship coach to work through a problem, you can also work with one proactively to strengthen bonds and talk through conflicts before they happen. And you can work with a coach 1:1 to fine-tune important skills like active listening, conflict resolution, or self-awareness

    What does a relationship coach do?

    A relationship coach is a type of coach that helps you understand your relations with others and resolve interpersonal issues. They give you the tools to build more fulfilling relationships, teaching you strategies to improve interpersonal communication and bolster emotional intelligence. Sessions can happen solo or with the person you want to strengthen your bond with.

    8 benefits of working with a relationship coach

    Your relationships are formative to your personal identity. In fact, studies show that romantic partners’ personalities become more similar over time, demonstrating just how impactful the people in your life can be.

    You need to take care of your relationships the same way you take care of yourself: with attention and love. And coaching can help. Here are some benefits of coaching:

    1. Better communication

    You may not be fully aware of how you convey your thoughts or why you express your feelings the way you do. But strong communication skills guide successful relationships, and a relationship coach can help you identify communication patterns, break down barriers, and give you strategies to establish clear, impactful exchanges. 

    2. Conflict resolution

    Disagreements are unavoidable in any relationship, but combative responses don’t have to be. Without effective conflict resolution skills, small misunderstandings can turn into big problems, and you may begin to harbor destructive resentment or develop a confirmation bias

    A relationship coach can help you develop techniques to resolve disagreements with mutual respect and understanding. Rather than letting conflict create divisions, you’ll give them a positive spin and learn to transform conflict into learning

    3. Emotional awareness

    Emotional awareness is a soft skill that requires self-reflection, empathy, and humility, allowing you to respect people’s boundaries and advocate your own. A relationship coach can help you develop the emotional regulation skills you need for more productive conversations and better relationships.

    Developing these skills will have a snowball effect on your relationships in life and at work. People tend to have more positive perceptions of those with high emotional intelligence because it shows greater care for others.

    4. Self-discovery

    Setting out to improve your relationships is the starting point of developing a better understanding of yourself

    To reach your relationship goals, you’ll have to look inward toward your fears, values, and relationship non-negotiables. Self-discovery with a coach can help you move through relationships more confidently, knowing when to nurture a healthy connection or let go of someone

    5. Trust-building

    When you trust someone, you feel more comfortable being your whole self. Vulnerability leads to more honest conversations and deeper bonding between you and the people you care about, and a relationship coach can offer practical strategies to rebuild trust and sincerity after you’ve lost it. 

    6. Resilience strategies

    Conflict can create tension and stress, but those feelings don’t have to control your well-being. When interpersonal conflict does arise, a coaching program can help you develop coping strategies to overcome stressors, building psychological flexibility and ultimately reducing stress.

    7. More accountability

    A coach’s job is to help you identify a clear objective and build a step-by-step action plan to achieve it. But they also cheer you on as you progress. They’ll hold you accountable to reach your goals and commitments, motivating you to keep working.


    8. Improved relationship satisfaction

    Studies show that a sense of belonging and community gives life a sense of purpose and meaning, whether it’s a close bond with a loved one or a team of colleagues. Fostering those healthy relationships can help you find more meaning in life, and a coach gives you the tools to do so. 

    Relationship coaching versus couple’s therapy, marriage coaching, and dating coaching

    With so many types of relationship-focused therapy and coaching practices, you might ask: what does a relationship coach do, and how is it different from other services? Here’s a breakdown of the distinctions: 

    Relationship coaching

    A relationship coach concentrates on strengthening your long-term relationships and the way you behave within them. Whether it’s relationship coaching for couples, family members, or colleagues, it aims to build your interpersonal skills and stimulate personal growth. 

    Relationship coaches can help you analyze communication styles, love languages, and conflict resolution habits between you and the people around you. They’ll guide you as you dig into your behavioral patterns and inspire a step-by-step action plan to improve.

    Whether you need to learn vulnerability, active listening, or empathy, a coach can help you get there. They won’t tell you what to do, instead lending a hand as you reach your destination. 

    Couples therapy

    A couples therapist is a licensed professional who works 1:1 with couples experiencing distress in their relationship. Their relationship advice might focus on determining and treating specific sources of conflict and dysfunctional behaviors to overcome obstacles. 

    While coaches are focused on the present and future, therapists treat wounds from the past. The latter is most helpful when there are larger issues, like mental illness, at play. 

    Marriage coaching

    Marriage coaching is specifically for married or soon-to-be-married couples, preparing them for the common obstacles or milestones that long-term relationships bring. They can teach you and your spouse tools for financial planning, conflict resolution, and family planning, emphasizing the importance of open communication in decision-making. 


    Most people who seek marriage counseling or coaching do so in the early stages of their marriage, so this process isn’t meant for people who need long-term support. It’s more like taking a personalized course than coaching.

    Dating coaching

    While a relationship coach tends to focus on maintaining established relationships, a dating coach helps you get the most out of the dating process. They give you the tools to work on your confidence, teach you to hold a conversation, and give insights into your communication style. They can also prepare you for milestones in your love life. 

    What to expect in a relationship coaching session

    Like life or career coaching, your first session is the opportunity to learn more about coaching and how it can help you achieve goals. You’ll meet your coach, talk about your situation, and learn about how the process will work. They’ll pose thought-provoking questions and encourage you to reflect on your needs.

    After setting a goal together, you and your coach will develop an action plan, usually in the form of specific challenges and goals. This may include role-playing exercises to understand different perspectives, mindfulness practices to build emotional awareness, or communication drills to enhance your ability to convey ideas.

    Throughout the sessions, your coach will give you guidance and constructive feedback to help you develop clarity about your behaviors, patterns, and progress. A good coach creates a safe space so you never feel uncomfortable sharing. 

    The coaching process should have a clear beginning, middle, and end, with goals and milestones along the way. Your coach's role is to get you to the finish line. Once you achieve your objective, the work is done — or you move on to the next goal. 

    How to find a relationship coach

    Relationship coaching is a vulnerable and personal experience. To get the most out of it, it’s important to choose someone you connect with. 

    Here are three ways to find the right coach for you: 

    Identify your needs

    Understanding your goal will guide your search. You can start by asking yourself some of the following questions:

    • What are my goals in this relationship? 
    • Are there specific conflicts I want to resolve?
    • What are my social strengths and weaknesses?
    • What tools do I want to build to improve my connections? 
    • Will I seek coaching services for myself or with a partner? 

    At this stage, you should also define what kind of coach you’d like to work with. Do you need virtual coaching on Zoom, digital coaching on your phone, or in-person sessions to get the most from your experience? It’s worth it to try different formats and discover which you prefer.

    Define expertise

    Depending on the specificity of your objective, a coach with particular expertise may be more beneficial. If you want to learn to have more open conversations, a relationship and communications coach can give you the right tools.

    If you’re recently back on the dating scene and need help setting boundaries, you may want to work with a coach that deals specifically with dating. 

    Reflect on your introductory session

    A good coaching experience can be life-changing. It helps you see yourself in a new light to move forward with more intention. 

    The introductory session is your opportunity to determine whether the relationship can take you to that place. Pay attention to whether you trust them, respond well to their communication style, and engage with their approach.

    If their coaching skills match your needs and preferences, it’s a good sign of what’s to come. If it doesn’t feel right, that’s okay. There’s another coach out there for you.

    Tackle your relationship coaching goals head-on

    Managing your relationships won’t always be easy, but relationship coaching can bridge the gap. Whether you need to overcome an interpersonal conflict or want to equip yourself with better social skills, a coach can give you the strategies you need. 

    Start by examining your goals and deciding on whether you’ll be conducting coaching sessions 1:1 or with a partner. Refine your search and read up on each coach. Reviewing testimonials, coaching packages, and their relationship coach training can provide you with useful insights. You — and your connections — will be happier for it.

    Navigate social settings with confidence

    Improve your social skills, confidence, and build meaningful relationships through personalized coaching.

    Navigate social settings with confidence

    Improve your social skills, confidence, and build meaningful relationships through personalized coaching.

    Published June 17, 2024

    Elizabeth Perry, ACC

    Elizabeth Perry is a Coach Community Manager at BetterUp. She uses strategic engagement strategies to cultivate a learning community across a global network of Coaches through in-person and virtual experiences, technology-enabled platforms, and strategic coaching industry partnerships.

    With over 3 years of coaching experience and a certification in transformative leadership and life coaching from Sofia University, Elizabeth leverages transpersonal psychology expertise to help coaches and clients gain awareness of their behavioral and thought patterns, discover their purpose and passions, and elevate their potential. She is a lifelong student of psychology, personal growth, and human potential as well as an ICF-certified ACC transpersonal life and leadership Coach.

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