Inherent requirements for the Master of Psychotherapy and Counselling

The statements below specify the course requirements of the Master of Psychotherapy and Counselling for student admission and progression. The statements are clustered under eight domains consisting of ethical behaviour, behavioural stability, legal, communication, cognition, relational skills, reflective skills and sustainable performance. Many of the activities associated with the professional practice of a counsellor/psychotherapist are time sensitive, where the capacity to perform certain activities within specified time limits is required to reduce or avoid risks to patient safety and wellbeing. The safety and wellbeing of you and others is always of paramount importance. The inherent requirements below should be read in conjunction with other course information, and the codes, guidelines and policies of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia.

What is it like to do this course?

It may be helpful for you to understand a little about what it is like to complete the Master of Psychotherapy and Counselling. Further information about the course is available in the course guide and we recommend you familiarise yourself with the information there.

What about when I finish my course?

Successfully completing the course makes graduates eligible for employment as a Professional Counsellor or Psychotherapist.  Further, the successful completion of this course enables graduates to join the peak professional body of the profession, PACFA, at an Intern, Provisional, or Clinical level, depending on their experience. If you are undertaking this course in order to complete subsequent higher education it is important to ensure that you are familiar with the inherent requirements of those courses also. You may also find it helpful to familiarise yourself with the requirements for work in a professional capacity as a Counsellor or Psychotherapist to assess your suitability for such a role following graduation.

Inherent requirement domains

There are eight domains of inherent requirements in the Master of Psychotherapy and Counselling. Some domains have a number of sub-domains.

  • Ethical behaviour 
  • Behavioural stability 
  • Legal compliance
  • Communication 
  • Cognition 
  • Relational skills 
  • Reflective skills
  • Sustainable performance

 Ethical behaviour

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Counselling is a profession guided by the codes, guidelines and policies of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (opens in new window) whereby Counsellors are deemed accountable and responsible for ensuring their professional behaviour in all contexts. Counsellors must adhere to these codes and should demonstrate knowledge of and engage in ethical behaviour in practice. Research undertaken is governed by the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research. 
  2. Student demonstrates knowledge of, and engages in, ethical behaviour in practice and research.
  3. Why is ethical behaviour an inherent requirement?
    Compliance with the codes, guidelines and policies facilitates safe, competent interactions and relationships for students and/or the people with whom they engage. This supports the physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of all.
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet the ethical behaviour requirements must facilitate behaviour consistent with the codes, guidelines and policies of PACFA and not result in unethical behaviour. 
  5. Examples of ways in which ethical behaviour applies to this course
    Complying with conduct required to maintain professional membership of PACFA.
    Understanding and practising appropriate professional boundaries including confidentiality and duty of care in work with clients on supervised field placement.
    Appropriately acknowledging sources in the preparation of written assignments.
    Abiding by relevant research ethics guidelines, such as the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, in the conduct of research.

 

 Behavioural stability

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Behavioural stability is required to function and adapt effectively and sensitively in academic and field placement settings.
  2. Student demonstrates behavioural stability to work constructively in a diverse and changing academic and clinical environment, which may at times be challenging and unpredictable. 
  3. Why is behavioural stability an inherent requirement?
    Behavioural stability is required to work individually and in teams in diverse and changing environments. Students will be exposed to situations which are challenging and unpredictable, and will be required to have the behavioural stability to manage these objectively and professionally.
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet the behavioural stability requirement must support stable, effective and professional behaviour in both academic and clinical settings. 
  5. Examples of ways in which behavioural stability applies to this course
    Demonstrating the capacity to manage emotions and behaviour appropriately, including when feeling under stress.
    Being receptive and responding appropriately to constructive and / or critical feedback.
    Managing own emotional state in order to be able to develop and maintain an appropriate relationship with a diverse range of clients, professional colleagues and supervisors, academic staff, and peers
 Legal compliance

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Counselling practice is governed by legislation covering health professions to enable the safe delivery of care. Counsellors are also subject to laws governing child protection, mandatory notification of children and young people at risk, and criminal activity. Counselling practice is further governed by peer regulation through professional counselling and psychotherapy organisations.
  2. Student demonstrates knowledge and compliance with relevant laws and professional regulations.
  3. Why is legal compliance an inherent requirement?
    Knowledge, understanding and compliance with legislative and regulatory requirements are necessary pre-requisites to supervised field placements in order to reduce the risk of harm to self and others.
    Compliance with these regulations and the law ensures that students are both responsible and accountable for their practice. 
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet the legal compliance requirement must be consistent with legal and regulatory requirements. 
  5. Examples of ways in which legal compliance applies to this course
    Complying with legal requirements regarding all aspects of practice.
    Demonstrating capacity to research, understand and apply regulatory requirements specific to safe practice in the class setting and on supervised field placement.
 Communication

This course requires effective, verbal, non-verbal and written communication skills.

Verbal

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Effective verbal communication, in English, is an essential requirement to provide safe and effective delivery of counselling and needs to be respectful, clear, attentive, empathic, honest and non-judgemental.
  2. Student demonstrates:
    Sensitivity to individual and/or cultural differences.
    The ability to listen, understand and respond to verbal communication accurately, appropriately, empathically and in a timely manner.
    Consistent and appropriate awareness of own verbal communication style.
    The ability to provide clear instructions and guidelines in the context of the situation.
    Timely clear feedback and reporting.
  3. Why is verbal communication an inherent requirement?
    Communicating in a way that displays respect and empathy to others and develops trusting relationships.
    Speed and accuracy of communication may be critical for individual safety or therapeutic intervention.
    Accurate and effective delivery of verbal instructions is critical to individual safety, support and management.
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet the verbal communication requirement must address effectiveness, timeliness, clarity and accuracy issues to ensure safety and appropriate support. 
  5. Examples of ways in which verbal communication applies to this course
    Participating and engaging in class and clinical discussions.
    Demonstrate effective communication with a diverse range of clients, field placement colleagues, and supervisors.

Non-verbal

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Effective non-verbal communication is fundamental to clinical counselling and needs to be respectful, clear, attentive, empathic, and non-judgemental.
  2. Student demonstrates:
    The capacity to recognise, interpret and respond appropriately to behavioural cues.
    Consistent and appropriate awareness of own behaviours.
    Sensitivity to individual and/or cultural differences.
  3. Why is non-verbal communication an inherent requirement?
    The ability to understand non-verbal cues assists with building rapport with people and gaining their trust and respect in academic and professional relationships.
    Displaying consistent and appropriate facial expressions, eye contact, being mindful of space, time boundaries and body movements and gestures promotes trust in academic and professional relationships.
    Being sensitive to individual and/or cultural differences displays respect and empathy to others, and develops trusting relationships.
    The ability to understand non-verbal cues is essential for safe and effective observation of clients' symptoms and reactions as part of their assessment and treatment. 
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet the non-verbal communication requirement must enable the recognition, interpretation and appropriate response to non-verbal cues as well as initiation of effective non-verbal communication in a timely and appropriate manner. 
  5. Examples of ways in which non-verbal communication applies to this course
    Recognising and responding to non-verbal cues indicating a change in the emotional state of a client during supervised field placements.
    Recognising and responding to non-verbal cues in classroom situations.
    Demonstrating an awareness of personal non-verbal behaviours and their impact on peers, academic teachers, field placement colleagues and clients.

Written

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Effective written communication, in English, is a fundamental counselling responsibility with professional and legal ramifications. 
  2. Student demonstrates capacity to construct coherent written communication appropriate to the circumstances. 
  3. Why is written communication an inherent requirement?
    Construction of text based assessment tasks to reflect the required academic standards are necessary to convey knowledge and understanding of relevant subject matter for professional practice.
    Accurate written communication for a range of purposes and audiences is vital to provide consistent and safe client care. 
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet the written communication requirement must not compromise the necessary standards of clarity, accuracy and accessibility to ensure effective recording and transmission of information in both academic and clinical settings. 
  5. Examples of ways in which written communication applies to this course
    Constructing written assignments to required academic standards including appropriate referencing of sources.
    Preparing client records and reports which are appropriate to the purpose and audience, and completed in a timely manner.
 Cognition

This course requires knowledge of theory and the skills of cognition, literacy and numeracy.

Knowledge and cognitive skills

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Consistent knowledge and effective cognitive skills must be demonstrated to undertake safe and competent counselling practice. 
  2. Student demonstrates:
    The capacity to locate appropriate and relevant information.
    The ability to process information relevant to practice.
    The ability to integrate and implement knowledge in practice.
  3. Why are knowledge and cognitive skills inherent requirements?
    Safe and effective counselling practice is based on identifying and accurately extracting plus understanding information from a range of sources and applying this appropriately. 
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet the knowledge and cognitive skills requirements must not compromise or impede student's ability to demonstrate the minimum acceptable level of knowledge and cognitive skill required to practise safely. 
  5. Examples of ways in which knowledge and cognitive skills applies to this course
    Ability to conceptualise and use appropriate knowledge in supervised field placement settings.
    Ability develop and implement to individual and group treatment plans based on the research and practice literature.

Literacy (language)

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Competent literacy skills are essential to provide safe and effective counselling practice. 
  2. Student demonstrates:
    The ability to acquire information and accurately convey appropriate, effective messages.
    The ability to read and comprehend a range of literature and information.
    The capacity to understand and implement academic conventions to construct written text in a scholarly manner including making explicit links between practice and theory. 
  3. Why is literacy (language) an inherent requirement?
    The ability to acquire information and to accurately convey messages is fundamental to ensure safe and effective assessment, treatment and delivery of counselling practice.
    The ability to read, decode, interpret and comprehend multiple sources of information is fundamental for safe and effective delivery of counselling practice. 
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet the literacy (language) requirement must not compromise the student's ability to demonstrate the minimum acceptable capacity to effectively acquire, comprehend, apply and communicate accurate information and engage in written reflection. 
  5. Examples of ways in which literacy (language) applies to this course
    Conveying a spoken message accurately and effectively during field placements.
    Paraphrasing, summarising and referencing in accordance with appropriate academic conventions, including the avoidance of plagiarism.
    Understanding class and assessment instructions and producing appropriate written responses.
    Producing accurate, concise and clear documentation while on placement which meets legal and professional requirements.

Numeracy

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Competent and accurate numeracy skills are essential for sound and effective professional and research practice. 
  2. Student demonstrates:
    Correct interpretation and analysis of data, measurement and numerical criteria.
  3. Why is numeracy an inherent requirement?
    Competent numeracy skills are required to analyse and synthesise complex information, problems and concepts that contribute to research practice. 
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet the numeracy requirement must demonstrate a capacity to interpret and apply numerical concepts and processes in a timely, accurate and effective manner. 
  5. Examples of ways in which numeracy applies to this course
    Analyse critically, evaluate and transform information to complete a range of activities.
    Perform calculations and statistical analysis, using statistical software packages, in response to academic tasks and assessments.
 Relational skills

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Counselling practice requires the ability to use highly developed interpersonal skills and establish and maintain strong relationships with people. 
  2. Student demonstrates:
    The ability to establish and maintain rapport with clients, academic staff, supervisors and peers.
    The ability to engage in effective and empathic counselling and group work.
    The ability to engage and relate appropriately in individual and group clinical supervision and experiential learning groups.
  3. Why are relational skills inherent requirements?
    Highly developed relational skills are a cornerstone of effective therapeutic relationships that permit effective engagement, assessment, intervention and closure.
    Highly developed relational skills are necessary to engage effectively in individual and group supervision of client work and experiential training activities that support the establishment and maintenance of an effective and appropriate therapeutic relationship with clients. 
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet the relational skills requirement must permit students to demonstrate effective relational skills. 
  5. Examples of ways in which relational skills applies to this course
    Building and maintaining rapport with a client in order to engage them in effective counselling while on supervised field placement.
    Effectively using relational and interpersonal skills to manage the therapeutic relationship with clients.
    Relating effectively, openly and sensitively to academic staff, supervisors and peers to facilitate an effective learning environment and manage one’s own academic progress.
 Reflective skills

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Counselling practice requires self-awareness and a capacity for reflection and reflexivity in order to consider the effect of one's own issues, actions, values and behaviours on practice. 
  2. Student demonstrates:
    The ability to accurately reflect on their counselling performance.
    The ability to accept feedback on their counselling practice and respond constructively. 
  3. Why are reflective skills inherent requirements?
    Participation in supervision is a key teaching strategy in counselling training which requires well developed understanding of oneself in order to appropriately engage in this activity.
    Working with clients while on supervised field placement and understanding and responding to them requires well developed understanding of oneself and the ability to effectively manage one's reactions to situations that may arise. 
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet the reflective skills requirement must not compromise the student's ability to demonstrate an acceptable minimum level of capacity in this area. 
  5. Examples of ways in which reflective skills applies to this course
    Identifying when a clinical issue is outside one's scope or expertise, or when one's practice may be negatively affected by personal experience and/or reactions.
    Identifying how one's own relational style and behaviour may impede or enhance work with particular clients on supervised field placement.
    Identifying how one's ability to relate to others may impede or enhance work with peers and academic teachers in classroom practice settings.
    Identifying and bringing difficult areas of one's clinical practice to supervision in order to improve therapeutic work with clients on placement.

 

 Sustainable performance

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Counselling practice requires both physical and mental stamina. 
  2. Student demonstrates:
    Consistent and sustained level of physical energy to complete a specific task in a timely manner and over time.
    The ability to perform repetitive activities with a level of concentration that ensures a capacity to focus on the activity to completion.
    The capacity to maintain consistency and quality of performance throughout the designated period of time.
  3. Why is sustainable performance an inherent requirement?
    Sufficient physical and mental endurance is an essential requirement needed to perform multiple tasks in an assigned period to provide safe and effective support.
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet the sustainable performance requirement must ensure that performance is consistent and sustained over a required period. 
  5. Examples of ways in which sustainable performance applies to this course
    Attending and actively participating in tutorial and lectures as scheduled and for the required duration.
    Attending and actively participating in field placement activities as host with the placement agency over a negotiated time frame.