PSYCH5012 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 mental health and diagnostic classification and examines core counselling and interviewing skills fundamental to developing effective therapeutic relationships for professional practice across a range of intervention paradigms and settings. Theories of personality will be highlighted as they interface with conceptualisation of the psychologist's therapeutic role, use of self and interventions, and the nature of the relationship with the client. The unit has two interrelated strands. Students will participate in lectures / seminars considering the role of communication and counselling skills in achieving outcomes for clients, theories of personality and psychotherapy, the elements of the therapeutic relationship, communication within and across cultures, and diagnostic classification. Students will also undertake skills training to develop core counselling and interviewing skills. 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 understanding of counselling approaches and of the evidence-base supporting the use of counselling techniques in psychology practice;
  • demonstrate understanding of the therapeutic relationship and of the evidence-base supporting the importance of establishing an effective  therapeutic relationship for achieving client outcomes;
  • describe the barriers and facilitators of communication within and across cultures with reference to empirical findings;
  • demonstrate understanding of diagnostic classification;
  • demonstrate core counselling and interviewing skills;
  • demonstrate skills in critical reflective practice;
  • demonstrate skills in information literacy and academic writing;
  • demonstrate skills in communication 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 requires students to attend and participate in one two hour seminar and one two hour small group clinical practice session scheduled weekly from week 1 to week 10 of trimester. The seminars will include a lecture component and a range of student-focused, active learning activities. Students will be expected to prepare for each seminar by completing specified activities, such as reading reports and journal articles. Students are expected to actively participate in seminar activities and it is assumed that students will spend a further 10.5 hours in private study, including reading, preparation, and completing assessments, for each scheduled class.

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