COUN1104 Ethical Frameworks and Decision Making

Bachelor Course Unit

Level: 1 st year core

Credit points: 6 (out of 144)

Prerequisites: COUN1101 Counselling Skills and Practice 1 AND COUN1103 Mental Health

Mode of Study: On Campus and Blended Delivery


In this unit students learn to identify and apply ethical practice skills and comply with legal responsibilities inherent in providing counselling services to clients.

Unit description

This unit draws on students’ self-awareness of their ethical values, beliefs and behaviour to consider how these influence counselling practice. Students will develop appropriate ethical interventions on matters of safety for clients and others, such as self-harm, suicide, family violence, child abuse and neglect, discrimination and victimization; and engage with sociological theories of power, culture, gender, age and disability, to critically evaluate how these may impact upon professional practice.

Learning outcomes

 On completion of this unit students should be able to:

  • describe, identify and apply ethical practice skills and comply with legal responsibilities inherent in providing counselling services to clients
  • identify safety issues for clients and others e.g. self-harm, suicide, domestic violence, discrimination and victimization; and develop appropriate ethical interventions
  • identify and analyse ethical, legal and sociological issues, including power, culture, gender, age and disability
  • develop self-awareness of their ethical values, beliefs and behaviour , and the influence of these on counselling practice
  • analyse how power and influence impact upon professional relationships 

Unit content

  • Foundations of Ethics, Law and Ethical Practice
  • Legal Implications for the Counselling/Health Professional
  • Client Confidentiality and Privacy Issues
  • Ethical Decision-Making
  • Ethical Practice and Multicultural Considerations
  • Boundaries, Multiple Relationships and Client Welfare
  • Issues of Self-Disclosure, Touch and Sexual Contact
  • Awareness of the Needs of Diverse Communities
  • Power and influence with Relation to Client Safety and Autonomy
  • Unique Responsibilities when Working with Children, Families and Couples
  • Vicarious Traumatisation and Compassion Fatigue
  • Clinical Supervision

Learning and teaching process

The on-campus version of this unit comprises 12 weekly three hour on-campus lectures. Studying by Blended Delivery mode involves an online study guide and readings, video recorded lectures, four one and three-quarter hour synchronous online tutorials, and a two-day on-campus workshop.

Assessment summary

Please refer to the document available here 

Recommended text

For more information regarding recommended texts for specific units, please see the Counselling Textbook List.

Unit workload

The workload for this unit is 9 hours per week.

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 the Academic Misconduct Policy for more information.

Enrolment Recommendation

It is the recommendation of Psychological Sciences and Counselling that students follow the recommended enrolment guide for the Bachelor of Psychological Sciences and Counselling, and complete COUN1101 Counselling Skills and Practice 1 and COUN1102 Counselling Theories and Models 2 within their first two terms of enrolment in the program. Please see our recommended sequencing of unit completion here.


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.