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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“How Relate NI helps people”

Our counsellor was excellent and really helped me and my husband to resolve the niggles in our relationshipService Attended Adult Relationship Counselling for Couples
My counsellor was lovely, attentive and supportive. She helped me to understand my worth and for that, I will always be gratefulService Attended Adult Relationship Counselling for Individuals
This service is invaluable. Such lovely people to meet and help you through difficult times.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling for Couples
The service was excellent, my counsellor was really good at getting us to open up and helping us to get to the root of our issues. We have definitely improved our communication since attending.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling for Couples
I found the Relationship MOT an excellent method of focusing on how we work as a couple and just as importantly, where we need to work. It was professional, insightful and well worth the time. It has reminded us of how much we have to be proud of in our relationship and why it is so important to occasionally review it with experts.Service Attended Relationship MOT
I would definitely recommend using the Relationship MOT service as a bit of a check in with your partner. I thought how the counsellor was able to steer the conversation was very insightful and nuanced. The MOT reminded us about why we are great together but also the importance of communication and respect.” “Our counsellor provided an outside perspective which immediately helped us to agree that we needed to stop and think with more kindness and empathy for each other especially when stressed or pissed off. We both felt that our counsellor’s excellent and gentle facilitation was quite invigorating. So many positives!Service Attended Relationship MOT 2
Very Interesting Content. I like the concept of preparing your relationship before you have problemsService Attended Sustaining Healthy Relationships – Surestart 4
The face to face programme has made me feel connected with others experiencing similar thingsService Attended Sustaining Healthy Relationships – Surestart 3
The workshops made me more confident to balance family life after the baby's arrivalService Attended Sustaining Healthy Relationships – Surestart 2
I now have a better understanding of myself, it is good to know that it is normal to have argumentsService Attended Sustaining Healthy Relationships – Surestart 1
I felt the weekly questionnaire, couples with the counsellor's understanding of my needs help contribute to my own understanding of my mental health and needs throughout.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling for Individuals
I loved every session. Our counsellor listened to what we had to say and gave us helpful wee homework - would recommend this service to everybodyService Attended Adult Relationship Counselling for Couples
Our counsellor was a fantastic support - we now feel strong enough to continue working on our relationship togetherService Attended Adult Relationship Counselling for Couples
I had a very good counsellor that helped me through a lot and it has made me come out the other side.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling for Individuals
Counselling took us from a bad place to a good one and I would return if neededService Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Couples
Been a lifeline to help us fall in love again - forever grateful!Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Couples
I would just like to say that when I first came for counselling I felt that I was drowning.  I have completed my sessions and I now feel that I can cope a lot better with everything.  Thank you for a brilliant service.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Individuals
Thank you Relate NI for a good nights sleep.Service Attended Relate NI Kids Counselling
Really enjoyed Relate NI and I'm actually going to miss counselling.  I Found it helpful to find myself again. Very fair and equal within our relationship.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Couples
I appreciated the straightforward, helpful and informed observations about situations. It really helped me cope during Christmas which is a difficult time for usService Attended Family Counselling
The counsellor was very pleasant to meet with.  They had the necessary skills to speak and listen when appropriate.  I liked their humour and good personality.Service Attended Family Counselling
Relate NI has helped me move on as well as understand myself and situation more.  My counsellor listened to me, facilitated me and was compassionate!Service Attended Relate NI Teen Counselling
I felt the weekly questionnaire, coupled with counsellor's understanding of my needs helped contribute to my own understanding of my mental health and needs throughoutService Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Individuals
We had four funded sessions and cannot express how grateful we are for the help, guidance and knowledge. Our counsellor was incredibly professional, and her experience and obvious passion for helping couples like us was exceptional. She helped us to understand ourselves and each other like we otherwise never would have been able to.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Couples
I have tried counselling many times in the past. This time actually made a difference. I was able to complete online sessions as well as some face to face.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Individuals

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