COUN2103 Alcohol and Other Drugs

Bachelor Course Unit

Level: 2nd year core

Credit points: 6 (out of 144)

Prerequisites: COUN1101 & COUN1102

Mode of Study: On Campus and Blended Delivery


This unit introduces a framework for substance abuse counselling by providing an overview of national policy and counselling approaches in this complex field. Students will develop skills in assessment and referral, intervention planning for a range of client presentations, and relapse prevention.

Unit description

A comparison of the effectiveness of the major counselling theories used in the field, Motivational Interviewing, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, and Psychodynamic Therapy, is provided. Principles for working with involuntary clients and clients with concurrent conditions are also presented.

An understanding of the impacts of alcohol and other drug use on families, Indigenous communities and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds will be developed. Finally, important areas of professional practice for alcohol and other drug counsellors, boundaries and self-care, are addressed. Throughout this unit, students will be encouraged to reflect on their personal values and attitudes towards substance abuse, which will influence your counselling practice in the field of alcohol and other drugs counselling.

Learning outcomes

 On completion of this unit students should be able to:

  • understand and apply the concepts of substance use, abuse and dependency to case studies
  • identify and apply the major treatment options available in the field according to their evidence base
  • match treatment options to individual needs
  • develop and demonstrate specific assessment and referral skills for counselling clients effectively who present with substance use, abuse and dependency issues
  • develop and apply effective strategies for relapse prevention
  • analyse interactions between individual drug use and the social context
  • analyse the impacts on families of substance use, abuse and dependency
  • identify special needs groups and clients, including ATSI and CALD communities and develop evidence based interventions to meet their needs
  • discuss current practice issues for alcohol and other drugs counsellors, including boundaries and self-care

Unit content

  • Overview of Theories and Concepts of Substance Abuse Counselling
  • Physiological, Psychological and Sociological Aspects of Substance Use
  • Assessment of Substance Abuse
  • Treatment Options and Services in the Alcohol and Other Drugs Field
  • Comparison of Major Approaches to Substance Abuse Counselling
  • Re-Examination of the Comparison of Major Approaches to Substance Abuse Counselling and their Evidence Base from a Practice Perspective
  • Strategies for Relapse Prevention and Their Evidence Base
  • Best Practice in Families
  • Working with First Australian and CALD Clients and Communities to Reduce Substance Abuse Harm and Impact
  • Counselling Clients with Co-occurring Conditions
  • Policy Frameworks in Alcohol and Other Drugs
  • Boundaries, Ethical Principles and Self-care for Alcohol and Other Drugs Counsellors

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 10 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 all three second level counselling units (i.e., COUN2101 – COUN2103) before progressing to third level counselling units within the program. COUN1101 Counselling Skills and Practice 1 and COUN1102 Counselling Theories and Models 1 are pre-requisites for COUN2103 Alcohol and Other Drugs. 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.