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Do Relationship Coaches Save Marriages?

Short answer, no. Not even by a long shot.

Couple being coached.
"So you're saying your husband doesn't coach you like he use to?"

The only people who can save a marriage are the ones who are actually involved in the relationship and follow through with what is being coached. That being said, working with a relationship coach can clarify goals, provide a safe space to talk, and help provide a roadmap for a relationship. If you decide on coaching married couples, you may even find yourself coaching a couple who has decided that getting divorced is the best option. This example gives a different perspective on what relationship coaches can be; "success" and "failure" become relative terms based on the couple's goals, not based on the status of a relationship. The takeaway here is that a coach does not take credit for the work the couple does outside of the session.

What's the goal of your relationship? Seriously. Think about it. Plenty of people get into relationships for many different reason. But once you are in what? Whether its explicitly said or not, every relationship has goals and desired outcomes, with the expectation that your partner at the very least shares some of the same goals. But what if you and your partner start to have different goals? Or what if your communication methods don't mesh? Or what if you know what you want but don't know how to get there? This is where a relationship coach can help. Unlike therapists and counselors who focus on "the problem", past trauma, or disfunction, a relationship coach partners with you to make sure your relationship is working towards the same goals and helps you reach the outcomes you want to see. This week on CLCI Live Brooke Adair Walters (M.C.P.C.), Jerome LeDuff Jr (M.C.L.C.), and Anthony Lopez (M.C.P.C.) interview our wonderful owner of CLCI, Lisa Finck (A.C.C.), who started off in couples coaching and gives us valuable insight into how relationship coaching helps empower couples.

What's the Difference Between Couples Coaching and Therapy?

The answer depends on what the couple is looking for. Unfortunately, many people will use these terms interchangeably when seeking outside support but there is a significant difference between what a therapist and coach can accomplish. Basically, a therapist can coach, but a coach cannot provide therapy.

The Therapist

A therapist that focuses on couples is a mental health provider and licensed professional who works to alleviate pain and help treat and manage disfunction or trauma. Topics that could fall under relationship therapy include:

  • Substance abuse

  • Codependency

  • Anger Management

  • Sexual Abuse

  • Trauma & PTSD

  • Grief & Loss

  • Behavioural Issues

  • Domestic Abuse

  • Gambling

  • Infertility

  • Infidelity

  • Managing mental disorders

Therapists will often address the root causes of a problem and work with a couple to either find a solution or manage ongoing disfunction. That is not to say therapists don't coach. Quiet frequently mental-health professionals will use coaching as another skill in their toolbox to help their clients.

The Coach

A coach is a professional who takes on a goal-oriented approach to partnering with couples. A coach will focus with clients on the here and now rather than diving into the past or a person's psyche. Any coach worth their salt will refrain from giving out advice and instead ask powerful questions. Questions like:

  • "What do the both of you want for the future?"

  • "What does that 'future' looks like?"

  • "Why does this goal matter to you?"

  • "How will you get there?"

  • "What are the next steps?"

  • "What can be accomplished in this session? How will you know by the end of the session that it was accomplished?"

  • "What will be done between this session and the next?"

If you are new coach and decide relationships are your niche, we highly recommend networking and find a therapist or counselor you can refer out to for issues outside of the scope of your practice. Often these relationships can become mutually beneficial as the therapist and clients refer out to one another.

How Do I Coach Two (or More) People?

Relationship coaches are caught in a weird spot. Coaching a relationship is quite different than one-on-one coaching, but may not involve enough people where the coach will call themselves a "group coach". It's basically it's own thing and requires a degree of balance when managing the conversation. We say "managing" because at its worst you may be serving as a referee if you are working with a couple who have a more aggressive communication methods. By referee we mean that you will need to set the ground rules, make sure each client gets their say in the conversation, and making sure everyone is treated with respect in the coaching space.

In our discussion with Lisa, we go over that happens when one partner is dominating the conversation while the other remains silent. The solution is patience. With any coaching client it takes time to build a trusting relationship and one partner may be far more willing to open up than another. It is important to be mindful of this and simply invite the quieter partner to share and to direct questions to them as well. If they are not as responsive that is okay as it takes longer for other to be comfortable with sharing.

Keeping all of the above in mind, relationship coaching can be an incredibly rewarding profession where you see couples evolve, grow, and reach their maximum potentials.


ACTO is Accepting Applications for Student Scholarships Now!

The Association of Coach Training Organizations (ACTO) is pleased to open the application for its annual (2022) Coach Training Scholarship.

As in years past, two Scholarships will be awarded – each in the amounts of $2,000 USD – to the individuals who best meet the established criteria of the Scholarship Award.

This opportunity is open to both new coaching students, as well as students currently enrolled in an Accredited Coach Training Program to complete a coach training program from one of the ACTO member participating schools.

The criteria for the ACTO Scholarship Award are narrowly focused as follows:

  1. Applicants must express a commitment to pursue a career in coaching, ultimately credentialing through a recognized professional body. The award must be accessed (but not necessarily completely used) within a one-year period and training completed within two years.

  2. Applicants must express a clear and specific intent to use their acquired coaching skills to positively impact society by working with underserved and/or historically excluded populations. (Examples of underrepresented people and communities include, but are not limited to: Black, Brown, Indigenous and other people of color, ethnic or religious minorities, lower socio-economic or caste status, LGBTQIA+ persons, youth, elderly, economically or educationally disadvantaged, incarcerated or formerly incarcerated individuals, immigrants or migrants, etc.)

  3. Applicants must share a credible expression of financial need for this award.

Completed scholarship applications must be submitted to ACTO by April 1, 2022. Scholarship Awardees will be announced at the 2022 ACTO Conference (June 15-17, 2022).

Important Dates

January 1, 2022 – Scholarship application process open

April 1, 2022 – Completed scholarship application submission deadline

June 15-17, 2022 – Scholarship Awardees will be announced at the 2022 ACTO Conference


Thank you,

Lisa Finck, Brooke Adair Walters, Jerome LeDuff Jr, and Anthony Lopez!

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Anna Frost
Anna Frost
May 21, 2023

I believe that such psychotherapy and the help of professional psychologists can be useful. And I know this from my own experience, when I tested rejection sensitive dysphoria symptoms and turned to experienced professionals. This is a great way to solve your psychological problems in a relationship and after a breakup. But it is important to find a really high-quality service in which experienced specialists work and who can find an approach to each client.


Billi Jean
Billi Jean
May 21, 2023

Thanks for advice!

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