COUN6361 Counselling Theory and Practice

Master Course Unit

COUN6361 Counselling Theory and Practice

Duration: One trimester

Level: 1st year

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

Prerequisites: None

Important: This is studied by those whose previous undergraduate studies were not specifically in the field of counselling (e.g., you have previously graduated with a Bachelor of Psychology, Bachelor of Psychology (Honours), or Bachelor of Human Services etc).

Mode(s) of delivery: Blended Delivery

Core/elective: Elective

Unit description

Counselling Theory and Practice is designed to provide students with a thorough grounding in the historical, philosophical, and theoretical bases of major schools of counselling and psychotherapy, including psychodynamic, humanistic-existential, cognitive-behavioural, and postmodern approaches. Students will not only be exposed to the theory underlying these counselling schools, but also have opportunity to learn and practice specific processes and skills associated with each framework. In addition this unit will focus on evaluating the strengths, limitations, and evidence-base of the major approaches to counselling, as well as their potential application with diverse groups of clients. Finally, students will critically reflect on and begin to identify specific counselling methodologies that resonate with their own developing framework of practice.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit, students will be able to:

  • Describe the historical development, philosophical influences and theoretical bases of major psychotherapeutic schools;
  • Understand and apply important skills and processes from a range of counselling approaches;
  • Critically evaluate the strengths, limitations and evidentiary base of major schools of counselling;
  • Evaluate the potential application of a variety of counselling frameworks with diverse groups of clients;
  • Critically reflect on the potential relevance of counselling schools studied in the unit for their own developing approach to practice.

Unit workload

The workload for this unit is 9 hours per week.


  • Section 1: Introduction to unit; Psychodynamic school: Historical development & theoretical perspectives
  • Section 2: Psychodynamic school: Processes & skills;
  • Section 3: Humanistic-existential school: History and theory;
  • Section 4: Humanistic-existential school: Processes and skills;
  • Section 5: Humanistic-existential school: Application and evaluation;
  • Section 6: Cognitive-behavioural school: History and theory;
  • Section 7: Cognitive-behavioural school: Processes and skills;
  • Section 8: Cognitive-behavioural school: Application and evaluation;
  • Section 9: Postmodern school: History and theory;
  • Section 10: Postmodern school: Processes and skills;
  • Section 11: Postmodern school: Application and evaluation;
  • Section 12: Integration of diverse approaches. 

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 on campus workshop of 14 hours in this unit. These workshops are compulsory to meet PACFA Professional Training Standards which require a minimum of 200 hours of face-to-face teaching.


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.