COUN6331 Existential Therapy

Master Course Unit

COUN6331: Existential Therapy

Duration: One trimester

Level: 2nd year

Credit points: 3 (out of a total of 48 points)

Prerequisites: 5 Year 1 units must be completed

Mode(s) of delivery: Blended Delivery

Core/elective: Elective

Unit description

Most schools of psychotherapy have as their disciplinary basis philosophical concepts and methods, especially pertaining to notions of self and relationship with others. This unit provides an opportunity to develop an understanding of existential and phenomenological philosophy as a basis for therapeutic practice. Students are introduced to the concepts of self and experience that inform this modality, including the phenomenological method, the existential givens, and the question of authenticity.

Students develop the skills of existential therapy through practising with real material; and will be able to critically evaluate and situate existentialism within the broader field of psychotherapy and counselling.

By the completion of this unit students will have gained sufficient knowledge of the theory, methods and practice of existential therapy to integrate and apply the modality within a range of therapeutic situations and contexts.

Learning outcomes

On completion of the unit, students will be able to:

  • demonstrate in depth knowledge of phenomenological and existential philosophy, its development and concepts of ‘self’
  • locate existential therapy in the spectrum of existing models of counselling and psychotherapy and critically evaluate its therapeutic effectiveness and limitations
  • demonstrate integration of existential therapeutic methods with their own models of practice and therapeutic skills
  • critically evaluate the model of existential therapeutic practice in relation to social theories of feminism, postcolonialism and cultural theory

Unit workload

The workload for this unit is 9 hours per week.

Assignment summary

Please refer to the document available here.

Graduate attributes

The material covered in this unit will contribute to the development of the following graduate attributes:

  • Communication

The ability to communicate effectively and appropriately in a range of contexts using literacy, numeracy and information technology skills. 

  • Independent and Lifelong Learning

A commitment to continued and independent learning, intellectual development, critical analysis and inquiry, integrative thinking, and creativity.

  • Problem Solving

The ability to problem solve across a range of settings including professional, social and cultural contexts. 

  • Information Literacy

The ability to assimilate, analyse and utilise information effectively in a range of contexts, genres and texts types.

  • Innovation and Sustainability

A capacity to promote innovation within a socially sustainable environment.

  • Social Justice

An acknowledgment of and respect for equality of opportunity, individual and civic responsibility, indigenous and other cultures and times, and an appreciation of cultural diversity.

  • Discipline Knowledge and Skills

A command of a significant body of discipline knowledge and relevant professional skills.

  • Ethics and Ethical Practice

An awareness of, and sensitivity to, ethics and ethical standards on interpersonal and social levels, and within a field of study and/or profession.  To demonstrate integrity on social, cultural, and environmental issues.

  • Teamwork and leadership

A capacity for and an understanding of teamwork and leadership.

  • Global Perspective

An appreciation, respect and valuing of cultural and intellectual diversity.

Special provisions

Students will attend an intensive workshop of 14 hours in this unit, which will include lectures, roleplays of therapy sessions applying existential therapy interventions and case discussions to integrate theory and practice.


The required text book for this unit  can be found by viewing the School of Counselling textbook list by selecting the course and trimester at the following link:

Relevant journals and resources

Knowledge and understanding of these topics will be enhanced by wide reading of international peer-reviewed journal articles from various domains of counselling and psychotherapy, which can be accessed via the ACAP Library’s journal databases.

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. This includes plagiarism of any nature. It is your responsibility to make sure that you understand what constitutes plagiarism in order to ensure that you do not engage in it. Please refer to for full details of the Academic Misconduct Policy.


Unit information may be subject to change prior to the teaching trimester commencing.  Once term has commenced please review the Unit Outline in your class space to ensure your trimester study plan is correct.