COUN6141 Ethics in Practice

Master Course Unit

COUN6141: Ethics in Practice

Duration: One trimester

Level: 1st year

Credit points: 6 (out of a total of 96 points)

Prerequisites: None

Mode(s) of delivery: Blended Delivery

Core/elective: Core

Unit description

This unit is designed to develop the student’s awareness and understanding of legal and ethical issues critical to the effective practice of counselling. Students will be introduced to the concept of ‘ethical maturity’, and encouraged to explore and develop their own ethical maturity through the skills of self-awareness, personal responsibility and critical thinking. This development will be underpinned by a working knowledge of counsellor and psychotherapist responsibilities in regard to professional codes of ethics and relevant policy and legislation, and the introduction of ethical decision-making models and processes. Students will be encouraged to draw on these tools, as well as their own growing ethical maturity, when examining client needs, rights and autonomy, and issues such as confidentiality, boundary setting, trust and power.

Learning outcomes

  • Analyse the philosophical basis of ethics and of mature ethical decision-making practices with relevance to counselling.
  • Evaluate counsellor and psychotherapist responsibilities with respect to legal and ethical issues including reference to professional codes of ethics, relevant policy and legislation.
  • Critique and analyse ethical principles of confidentiality, boundary setting and trust in the therapeutic relationship.
  • Demonstrate respect for client needs, rights and autonomy.
  • Demonstrate awareness of the role of power in the therapeutic relationship.

Unit workload

The workload for this unit is 9 hours per week.

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.