Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


COUN309 Clinical Fieldwork 1 ; UNCC100 Self and Community: Exploring the Anatomy of Modern Society ;

Teaching organisation

3 hours per week of lectures/tutorials for twelve weeks plus placement and 50 hours community engagement

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit has two distinct but related components - clinical fieldwork and community engagement.

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, and so will gain experience working with individuals and groups under supervision. The aim of this unit is to help students make the transition from the classroom to the practice setting.

Students will also participate in community engagement. The aim of component is for students to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of the lives and worlds of people experiencing multiple disadvantages. As a result of their reflection and learning the students will develop a set of principles related to enhancing counselling practices so as to be a source of empowerment with people experiencing disadvantage.

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

LO2 -  evaluate the connections and applications of counselling theory and practice (GA4, GA5, GA8); 

LO3 -  participate in the supervision process and demonstrate the ability to be professionally self-aware and learn through this process (GA4); 

LO4 -  apply counselling skills that take into account the diversity and complexity of the human experience (GA1); 

LO5 -  demonstrate a holistic perspective in casework that takes into account the dynamics of the social context, personality and spirituality of the person (GA1, GA2, GA3); and 

LO6 -  articulate their reflections on the insights they have gained personally and professionally from their community engagement with people experiencing multiple disadvantage and report on the ethical, social and psychological implications of their experiences (GA1, GA2, GA4, GA5, GA9)

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 

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

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Topics will include: 

Clinical Fieldwork 

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

Community Engagement 

  • introduction to community engagement: nature, approach and processes; 
  • ethical approaches to the dignity of the person, the common good and human flourishing; 
  • principles for engagement with people experiencing multiple disadvantage and/or from diverse contexts (e.g., socioeconomic, ethnic, linguistic); 
  • becoming reflective people and professionals-a holistic approach; and 
  • reflective practice and self-care.   

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 and lead students to advanced levels of practice.  

The community engagement component will require students to engage with disadvantaged communities for 50 hours duration. The teaching and learning strategies include active learning; project-based learning; and refective/critical thinking activities, which are designed to help students focus on real world problems and challenges that rely on problem solving, decision making and investigative skills. 

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 through facilitator and peer evaluation and feedback.   

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 students’ Practicum Placement Portfolio 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. Finally, the Reflective Report on Community Engagement will enable students to develop personal and professional insights and consider the broad implications of their experience.  

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Oral presentation and Written Report 

Enables students to demonstrate their knowledge of a specific case and understading of related counselling issues. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6 

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8 

Practicum Placement Portfolio  

Enables students to demonstrate their engagement with their practicum and reflect upon their practice. 


LO4, LO5, LO6 

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4 

Reflective Report on Community Engagement Experience  

Enables students to demonstrate their personal insights and professional insights, along with their understanding of  the ethical, social and psychological implications of the community engagement experience. 


LO5, LO6 

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA9 

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.).3rd 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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