Counselling for Seafarers & Families

Counselling for Seafarers & Families

Your Voyage – then and now – share your journey”- Relate NI Communications Assistant Cara McVeigh has written for International Day of the Seafarer, 2022.


Seafarers & fishermen can experience a range of pressure on a daily basis. Dangerous working conditions, long working hours and fatigue are common issues. Coupled with potential financial issues, feelings of isolation on board and separation from family for long periods of time, working at sea can affect relationships and can contribute to poor mental well-being.

Healthy Relationships & Well-being

Healthy relationships build a crucial foundation for our wellbeing. Strong, healthy relationships can increase trust and have been known to improve stress, anxiety and some forms of depression. A strong support system, whether that’s with your parents, partners, family or friends can help you to overcome the struggles faced at sea.

Unhealthy relationships can have a harmful effect on our mental health, as evident in cases of bullying, abuse and domestic violence. Research by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (2020) has shown that work- family conflict and job stress negatively affect seafarer performance at work. It is therefore important that we put healthy connections at the heart of everything we do.

Try to make time to carry out some relationship maintenance both while you are tied up and at sea. Making time to give a loved one a call each day might provide something to look forward to during long, isolating days at sea. Keep a line of communication open can also help you to navigate any relationship issues you may be experiencing with your partner or family.

Where issues are festering over a period of time, it may be useful to speak to a relationship professional. Current & ex-serving Seafarers & Fishermen, as well as their family members, can access fully funded counselling sessions with Relate thanks to support from The Seafarers Charity.


“What is relationship counselling?”

Our highly- skilled counsellors focus on a relational approach to deliver a safe and confidential space to talk about the issues Seafarers and their families may have. Relationship counselling is an effective and vital intervention, particularly where there is continuing relationship distress for a lengthy period.

Counselling can provide the tools to navigate relationship pressures, and prevent relationships falling into crisis at times of crisis where individuals, couples and families reach out early. Our services are available online and across Northern Ireland.


Benefits of Relationship Counselling for Seafarers and Families

Relationship counselling can provide seafarers and their families resources and coping mechanisms for;

  • Communicating effectively,
  • Coping with fatigue and family life,
  • Coping with work load and working conditions,
  • Managing long separation periods,
  • Stress,
  • Missing loved ones,
  • Sustaining good relationships with family and friends ashore.

If you or your family are having difficulty in coping with the pressures of being a Seafarer, it’s important to seek support on your voyage and share your journey with a trained professional who can help you to move forward. We offer a range of options, including in person, via webcam or telephone during the days, evenings & weekends.

What services are available to Seafarers and families?

  • Relationship Counselling for couples/individuals – up to 6 sessions
  • Family Counselling – up to 6 sessions
  • Children’s and Young People’s counselling – up to 6 sessions
  • Sex Therapy – up to 12 sessions


How can I share my journey with a Relate Counsellor?

You can make a self-referral for yourself or for a family member by contacting the Seafarers’ Advice and Informational Line (SAIL) through their online enquiry form, or contact the following details:

Telephone: 0800 160 1842



Just state that you would like to make use of the free Relate NI counselling sessions and they will be able to have you referred into the counselling service at a time that suits you.

For a range of self-help tools, which can help you carry out some relationship maintenance at home, Relate NI also has a range of Advice & Helpful Resources on their website.

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