Relationship counseling is the process of counseling the parties of a relationship in an effort to recognize and to better manage or reconcile troublesome differences and repeating patterns of distress. The relationship involved may be between members of a family, couples, employees or employers in a workplace, or between a professional and a client.

History
Relationship counseling as a discrete, professional service is a recent phenomenon. Until the late 20th century, the work of relationship counseling was informally fulfilled by close friends, family members, or local religious leaders. Psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors and social workers have historically dealt primarily with individual psychological problems. In many less technologically advanced cultures around the world today, the institution of family, the village or group elders fulfill the work of relationship counseling. Today marriage mentoring mirrors those cultures.

With increasing modernization or westernization in many parts of the world and the continuous shift towards isolated nuclear families, the old support structures are no longer there and the need for relationship counseling is greater than ever. In western society the trend is towards trained relationship counselors; these are often volunteers who wish to help others, and are trained by either the Government or social service institutions to help those who are in need of counseling. Many communities and government departments have their own team of trained voluntary or professional relationship counselors.

Similar services are operated by many universities and colleges, often staffed by volunteers from among the student peer group. Some large companies maintain a full-time professional counseling staff to facilitate smoother interactions between corporate employees, to minimize the negative effects that personal difficulties might have on work performance.

Methodology
Before the relationships between the individuals can begin to be understood, it is important for all to recognize and acknowledge that everyone involved has a unique personality and background. Sometimes the individuals in the relationship adhere to different value systems. Institutional and societal variables (like the social, religious, group and other collective factors) which shape a person's nature, and behavior must be recognized. A tenet of “relationship counseling” is that:

It is intrinsically beneficial for all the participants to interact with each other and with society at large with the least conflict possible.

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Author's Bio: 

This definition is part of a series that covers the topic of Relationship Advice. The Official Guide to Relationship Advice is Brenda Shoshanna. A psychologist in practice for over 25 years, and long term Zen practitioner, Dr. Shoshanna helps you become calm, balanced and positive, no matter what is going on in your life. Her work combines East and West as she provides psychological, spiritual and practical guidance for building supportive, life giving relationships and becoming all you are meant to be.

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