Credit points


Campus offering

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COUN226 Ethical and Professional Issues in Counselling ; COUN229 Counselling Skills and Case Management; PSYC212 Abnormal Psychology

Teaching organisation

3 hours per week of lectures/tutorials for twelve weeks plus 200 hours placement

Unit rationale, description and aim

Counselling skills are acquired through practice and whereas students have learnt abilities and theory throughout the undergraduate counselling program, it is not until these skills are used in a real-life setting that they can appreciate the application of these learnings. Clinical Fieldwork is necessary for the student to experience the broader issues that a practising counsellor typically has to deal with when integrating academic learning with professional application, and facilitating change in the client.

Students will pursue a practicum in an organisation such as a community agency, or non-government organisation, for a minimum of 20 client contact hours with at least 5 hours of supervision. Students will gain experience working with individuals and groups under supervision by a qualified counsellor, social worker or psychologist. The aim of this unit is to help students make the transition from the counselling classroom to the counselling practice setting.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - demonstrate understanding of the current trends and issues that affect counsellors in human service organisations (GA4, GA5, GA8); 

LO2 - model the qualities, skills and commitment to life-long learning that is required of professional counsellors (GA4, GA5); 

LO3 - evaluate the connections and applications of counselling theory and practice (GA4, GA5, GA8); 

LO4 - participate in the supervision process and demonstrate the ability to be professionally self-aware and learn through this process (GA4); 

LO5 -  apply counselling skills that take into account the diversity and complexity of the human experience (GA1); and 

LO6 - demonstrate a holistic perspective that takes into account the dynamics of the social context, personality and spirituality of the person (GA1, GA2, GA3). 

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


Topics will include: 

  • preparation for placement; 
  • ethical considerations; 
  • cultural competency; 
  • supervision; 
  • mental health care; 
  • self-care for counsellors; and 
  • individual and group therapy 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The practicum program will be undertaken on approximately two days a week for twelve weeks. During this time the student will be required to log professional supervision as part of meeting requirements of engaging in a minimum of 20 client contact hours with at least 5 hours of supervision. The practicum will also be integrated with weekly classes on campus which are delivered in face-to-face mode for 3 contact hours per week including a 2-hour lecture and a 1-hour tutorial. The teaching and learning strategies are structured on the principles of experiential and adult learning that aims to facilitate the integration of theory and practice. These include active learning, case-based learning, individual and group activities, and reflective/critical thinking activities, and are designed to equip student counsellors with the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to work ethically, sensitively, inclusively and respectfully with clients from diverse backgrounds. There will be opportunity to focus on specific areas of counselling practice within the class forums each week. The seminars will be progressive in content and will facilitate the load students to advanced levels of practice. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

Standards-based assessment tasks for this unit are designed for students to demonstrate their acquisition of knowledge; the application of that knowledge; and achievement of each learning outcome. In order to successfully complete this unit, students will need to complete and submit all Assessment Tasks. The oral presentation will provide an opportunity for students to increase their knowledge and awareness of issues relating to the practice of counselling in specific settings and with specific populations of clients. The written report will incorporate the knowledge and awareness of the specific issues (relating to the practice of counselling presented in the oral presentation), with learning from class discussions. Through reflective practice, students learn to explore and evaluate personal insights, including how their knowledge or practice was influenced by the process. The case report will provide students with the opportunity to apply consepts in a counselling setting. Finally, the students’ Prcticum Placement Portfolia will provide the students with a means of ensuring they are engaging appropriately with their practicum and reflecting upon their practice in a meaningful way. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Oral Presentation and Written Report 

on a specific case relevant to a student’s placement increases knowledge and awareness of counselling issues. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6 

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8 

Case Report 


Enables students to apply concepts in developing an assessment and treatment plan. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6 

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8 

Practicum Placement Portfolio 


Assists students to engage appropriately with their practicum and reflect upon their practice. 


LO4, LO5, LO6 

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4 

Representative texts and references

Bager-Charleson, S. (2012). Personal development in counselling and psychotherapy. London: Sage. 

Bager-Charleson, S. (2010). Reflective practice in counselling and psychotherapy. Exeter: Learning Matters Ltd. 

Baird, B. N. (2013). The internship, practicum, and field placement handbook: A guide for the helping professions (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.  

Bor, R., & Watts, M. (Eds.). (2011). The trainee handbook. A guide for counselling & psychotherapy trainees (3rd ed.). London: Sage. 

Cleak, H & Wilson J. (2013). Making the most of field placement (3rd ed.). South Melbourne: Cengage. 

Duncan, B. L., Miller, S.D., Wapold, B.E., & Hubble, M.A. (Eds.). (2009). The heart and soul of change: Delivering what works in therapy (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: APA.  

Faiver, C., Eisengart, S., & Colonna, R. (2003). The counsellor intern’s handbook (3rd ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole. 

Kiser, P. M. (2011). The human services internship getting the most from your experience (3rd ed.).23rd ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage. 

Kottler J. A. (2014). Introduction to therapeutic counselling: Voices from the field (8th ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.  

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