COUN6131 Mental Health Counselling

Master Course Unit

COUN6131: Mental Health Counselling

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

Counselling professionals require an understanding of a broad range of issues that can result in people seeking their assistance. One of the major types of problems for which individuals seek help from counsellors and psychotherapists is mental health concerns, including depression and anxiety. Although counsellors are not able to formally assess and diagnose psychological disorders, it is important that they possess a sound understanding of such conditions as a basis for providing effective and evidence-based therapeutic intervention and ensuring they work within their ethical limits. 

Therefore, this unit is designed to provide participants with the knowledge and skills necessary to recognise important characteristics of major mental health concerns as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical manual of Mental Disorder, Fifth Edition (DSM-5; 2013), and also the social and other factors that contribute to the aetiology and maintenance of such conditions. Furthermore, students will be introduced to approaches and instruments relevant for mental health assessment that may be conducted by counsellors and psychotherapists, as well as a number of evidence-based therapeutic interventions for use with clients experiencing specific psychological disorders. As such this course aims to meet the Mental Health Practitioner standards as defined by the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia.  

Learning outcomes

On completion of the unit students will be able to:

a)      demonstrate understanding of the range of mental health disorders which may impact on children, young people and adults, their prevalence and impact on social functioning;

b)      demonstrate knowledge of social and biological determinants of mental health and wellbeing across the lifespan and apply this knowledge to intervention planning;

c)      demonstrate knowledge and skills in evidence based interventions to improve the outcomes for people living with mental illness including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Cognitive Therapy, Interpersonal therapy and family and group interventions;

d)      demonstrate skills in working in multidisciplinary contexts and self awareness about the influence of their own values and attitudes on their practice as mental health counsellors;

e)      demonstrate knowledge of the role of advocacy groups and their influence on Government policy such as the National mental Health Plan with its whole of government, cross-sectorial approach, and the needs and rights of consumers and their families and carers;

f)       understand the impact of personality disorders on social functioning and develop effective counselling relationships with people who have personality disorders. 

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.