COUN5951 Trauma Counselling

Graduate Diploma Level Unit

COUN5951 Trauma Counselling

Level: Higher

Credit points: 3

Prerequisites: Counselling Skills 2

Unit description

This unit provides a basic conceptual framework and skills for counselling people who are suffering from trauma-related stress. The unit builds upon the counselling skills and techniques covered in foundation units in counselling skills.

Upon completion of this unit, students will have the skills to counsel people who exhibit relatively clear-cut, short-term reactions to trauma. In cases involving more complex trauma reactions, students will have the skills to recognise the limits of their expertise and make an appropriate referral. It is not envisaged that students will provide specialist counselling for trauma; such counselling requires intensive training, supervision and experience that is beyond the scope of this unit.

Students are expected to integrate skills they have already acquired with the particular demands of working with traumatised clients. The activities are an integral part of the learning they will do during the unit. Students are advised to take the time to do the activities in their entirety.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit students should be able to: 

  • identify the terminology and concepts associated with trauma
  • identify the situations in which trauma may occur
  • identify the physical, emotional, cognitive and behavioural symptoms of trauma-related stress
  • identify the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder
  • identify the major components of trauma that impact on communities
  • identify the stages in recovery from trauma
  • demonstrate the appropriate application of counselling techniques to ameliorate the symptoms of short-term trauma-related stress
  • identify the advantages of workplace education regarding the impact of trauma
  • identify the limits of your expertise regarding the treatment of trauma-related stress
  • identify appropriate referral resources for clients suffering from trauma-related stress

Unit content

  • Introduction to Trauma
  • Physiological and Psychological Reactions to Trauma
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Grief
  • Community Trauma – Natural Disasters
  • Community Trauma – Man-made Events
  • Workplace Trauma and Critical Incident Stress Debriefing
  • Childhood Trauma – Experiences and Impacts
  • Approaches to Counselling Children
  • General Principles for Counselling Traumatised Clients
  • A Model for Counselling Traumatised Clients
  • Trauma Counselling Strategies and Techniques
  • Being a Counsellor, Responding to Trauma

Unit workload

The workload for this unit is 9.75 hours per week.

Assignment summary



Word count


Case Study




Academic Essay




Graduate attributes

The following graduate attributes will be developed in this unit:

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

Recommended text

Allen, J. G. (2005). Coping with trauma: Hope through understanding (2nd ed.). London, England: American Psychiatric.

Relevant journals

British Journal of Health Psychology
Child Abuse Review
Counselling and Psychotherapy Research
European Journal of Psychotherapy, Counselling and Health
International Journal of Mental Health
Journal of Child and Family Studies
Journal of Loss and Trauma
Journal of Mental Health Counselling
Journal of Sexual Aggression
Journal of Traumatic Stress

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.