COUN5011 Counselling Skills 1

Graduate Diploma Level Unit

COUN5011 Counselling Skills 1

Level: Higher

Credit points: 3

Prerequisites: none

Unit description

In this unit, students develop and understanding of the historical development of the counselling profession and an applied understanding of counselling skills. Student learning is facilitated using relevant readings, extensive section notes in the unit manual, learning activities, skills practice and self-reflection. Self-awareness about the influence of values, attitudes and biases on communication is foundational to the development of effective counselling skills.

The process of counselling and establishing the counselling relationship are introduced in this section. Understanding of the stages of counselling provides a framework to practice new skills. The first session with a client and conducting client assessment are a focus of this unit. The counselling relationship is an important means of facilitating change and growth. Students will learn how they can assist clients to achieve positive outcomes and increase their self-understanding.

Foundational counselling skills are introduced in this unit. There will be opportunity for learning through watching counselling demonstrations on YouTube and the In Counselling Video resources available on the library website. Learning activities provide opportunity for practice with peers in triad groups. This is a very important part of developing counselling skills.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit students should be able to: 

  • define counselling and analyse the qualities of effective counselling relationships
  • develop self-awareness about beliefs, values and biases and identify how these may influence counselling relationships
  • establish a triad practice group and conduct an initial counselling session, assessment of the client, and collaboratively establish goals for the session
  • define the stages of counselling and practice the tasks of each stage
  • develop, apply and critically evaluate the counselling skills of reflective listening, holding, use of silence, empathy, summarising and challenging in counselling sessions
  • develop and apply skills of attuning to the language and metaphors used by clients
  • identify and demonstrate the use of open-ended and closed questions in practice sessions and role plays

Unit content

  • What is counselling?
  • Self-awareness in counselling
  • Attitudes and values
  • The therapeutic dialogue
  • The counselling process
  • The first session
  • Listening, silence and holding
  • Accurate empathy and responding
  • Summarising and language and metaphor
  • Questions and common mistakes in counselling
  • Timing and closure
  • Combining skills and process

Unit workload

The workload for this unit is 9.75 hours per week.

Assignment summary



Word count


Reflective Essay and Summary of Counselling Session


Essay - 2000 words

Summary - no word limit


Learning journal and Summary


  Learning journal - 300 words per week

Summary - 500 words

Total word length - 4100 words


Graduate attributes

The following graduate attributes will be developed in this unit:

  • Creative self-expression
  • Reasoned criticism
  • Multiple research methodologies
  • Complex data acquisition techniques and analysis
  • Written expression and reasoned argument from empirical data
  • Evaluating possible outcomes of alternative courses of action

Recommended text

Geldard, D., & Geldard, K. (2012). Basic personal counselling: A training manual for counsellors (7th ed.). Sydney, Australia: Pearson.

Relevant journals

Australian Psychologist
British Journal of Social Work
CPJ: Counselling and Psychotherapy Journal
Counselor Education and Supervision
Counselling Psychology Quarterly
Journal of Counseling and Development
Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development
Journal of Humanistic Education and Development
Psychotherapy Networker
Psychotherapy in Australia
The Counseling Psychologist

Academic misconduct

Ethical conduct and academic integrity and honesty are fundamental to the mission of ACAP. Academic misconduct will not be tolerated by the college. Please refer to for full details of the Academic Misconduct Policy.


This unit outline may be updated and amended from time to time. To ensure you have the correct outline please check it again at the beginning of the semester.