Latest information about COVID-19

PSYC5012 Counselling, Communication and Culture


Professional Programs Unit


One Trimester



Credit points:

6 (out of 96) 



Mode(s) of delivery:





This unit is one of the core coursework units for students in the Graduate Diploma of Professional Psychology and the Master of Psychology (Clinical). This unit introduces students to the fundamentals of therapeutic intervention with clients, including providing an overview of counselling approaches, interview techniques and other issues relevant to the therapeutic process, such as an appreciation of culture.

Unit description

This unit considers two inter-related themes: i) the approach of professional psychology to mental health and illness, including the role of classification and conceptualization, treatment planning and evidence-based treatment; and ii) core communication, counselling and interviewing skills fundamental to developing effective therapeutic relationships for professional practice and conducting treatment within a cognitive behavioural framework. Students will participate in seminars considering the process of working with clients as a professional psychologist, the role of communication and counselling skills in achieving outcomes, the elements of the therapeutic relationship, and communication within and across cultures.

Students will also undertake skills training to develop core counselling and interviewing skills in preparation for commencing professional practice. Students will be required to video record counselling skills practice sessions with peers and to analyse microskills and the counselling process. Students will develop skills for reflective practice and will keep a weekly journal in which they consider the impact of context, life experience and cultural background on communication and social interaction, and on how their experiences and background may influence how they understand and conceptualise presenting problems and the therapeutic relationship. Students must successfully complete this unit before undertaking Psychology Practice 1: Ethical, Legal and Professional Issues.

Learning outcomes

On completion of the unit students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate advanced and integrated understanding of important processes and concepts in professional psychology practice including diagnosis, conceptualisation, evidence-based practice and treatment planning

  • Demonstrate advanced and integrated understanding of communication and counselling skills and of the evidence-base supporting their use in psychology practice
  • Demonstrate advanced and integrated understanding of the therapeutic relationship and of the evidence-base supporting the importance of establishing an effective therapeutic relationship for achieving client outcomes
  • Critically analyse the barriers and facilitators of communication within and across cultures with reference to empirical findings
  • Apply advanced core counselling and interviewing skills
  • Apply advanced skills in critical reflective practice
  • Apply advanced skills in information literacy and academic writing
  • Critically apply knowledge and skills to communicate in ways suitable for working with clients from diverse cultural backgrounds

Unit content

  • Mental health and mental illness: evidence based practice in psychological therapies
  • Overview of psychotherapy models
  • Core treatment skills - Basic counselling
  • Core treatment skills - Advanced counselling
  • The therapist
  • Professional practice: Ethics and boundaries
  • Postmodern therapeutic approaches - Narrative and mindfulness
  • Postmodern therapeutic approaches - ACT and DBT
  • Treatment planning
  • Multicultural approaches to treatment

Learning and teaching process

This unit is taught over 10 weeks and totals 4 student contact hours per week.

Students will participate in teaching and learning activities including:

a)    Lectures

b)    Small group skills workshops

In addition to timetabled contact hours, students are expected to do at least 9 hours of personal study each week to review lectures and read prescribed and recommended materials for this unit. The total individual workload of this unit will be around 130 hours (including teamwork, individual self-study and reading).

Assessment summary

Assessment information provided at the commencement of the unit in the online class space.

Recommended text(s)

For more information regarding recommended texts for specific units, please see the School of Psychological Sciences Textbook List.

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 full details of the Academic Misconduct Policy for more information.


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 trimester.  A full and update to date unit outline will be posted on the class space