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YSED105 Ethical Principles and Practice of Youth Work

Unit rationale, description and aim

Youth workers use counselling techniques in their day-to-day practice to engage, support and empower young people, often with the objective of helping the young person re-engage into school, work and/or the community. Having these essential counselling skills means that youth workers have the means to help young people in a variety of areas, ranging from personal growth to social and personal relationships. Youth Workers often take a collaborative approach to providing assessment, planning, goal setting, facilitation and advocacy for options and services to meet a young person's holistic needs. Counselling with young people requires a youth-centred perspective and creative, flexible application of skills and knowledge. The aim of this unit is to introduce skills and approaches for responding to young people using appropriate micro-skills to synthesise theoretical frameworks and evaluate techniques that may be suitable for an individual young person and in intercultural contexts.

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-Identify the major issues for ethical counselling practice in a youth work context (GA3, GA4, GA5)

LO2-Explain key standards required to set professional boundaries and maintain self-care (GA5)

LO3-Define and develop the skills necessary to establish an effective counselling relationship with a young person including intercultural contexts (GA3, GA4, GA5)

LO4-Practise the application of counselling skills in the youth work context (GA3, GA5, GA7, GA9, GA10)

Graduate attributes

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 

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

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

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Topics will include:

  • What is counselling in the youth work context- how does it differ from other counselling contexts?
  • Theories in counselling 

Micro skills 1 - attending skills and observation

Micro skills 2 - questioning

Micro skills 3 - responding

Micro skills 4 - reflection of feeling

The process of counselling

  • Incidental counselling with culturally diverse young people

Ethical issues

  • Key standards required to set professional boundaries and maintain self-care

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit engages students in active learning activities, such as reading, writing, discussion, role plays and problem-solving to promote analysis, synthesis and evaluation of class content in the context of lectures, where ideas are presented to students and tutorials where ideas are explored, practiced and discussed. Students build skills in counselling and use case studies and role plays to explore how what they have learned applies to real world situations.

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to pass this unit, students are required to achieve all learning outcomes and a final grade of 50% or better as an aggregate of all points from assessment tasks completed in this unit. A variety of assessment tasks have been designed to meet the learning outcomes of this unit and to ensure the development of graduate attributes.

To assist this, the following assessments tasks have been devised:

The essay requires students to write on the limitations and opportunities of youth work counselling in their work with young people. This requires students to consider the process of engaging with culturally diverse young people.

The Role Play task requires students to demonstrate counselling micro skills in an interview with young people. This task requires students to reflect on the role of counselling within youth work practice.

The test will assess students on knowledge obtained throughout the semester in readings, unit materials, lectures and/or discussions. and requires students to apply knowledge, theories, skills and attitudes appropriate to working with young people.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes


Students will write an essay on the limitations and opportunities of youth work counselling and professional standards of behaviour in work with culturally diverse young people


LO1, LO2

GA3, GA4, GA5


Students will be assessed on their knowledge obtained through the semester 


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA3, GA4, GA5

Role Play

A filmed 10-minute role play demonstrating application of counselling micro skills. This includes a 500-word written reflection.


LO1, LO3, LO4

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA9, GA10

Representative texts and references

Geldard, K 2009, Practical interventions for young people at risk, SAGE, Newbury Park, California.

Geldard, D, Geldard, K & Yin Foo, R 2016, Counselling adolescents: The proactive approach for young people, 4th edn, SAGE, Los Angeles, California.

Geldard, D, Geldard, K & Yin Foo, R 2017, Basic personal counselling: A training manual for counsellors, 8th edn, Cengage Learning, South Melbourne, Vic.

Gielen, UP 2008, Principles of multicultural counselling and therapy, Taylor & Francis, New York, NY.

Kirkbride, R 2018, Counselling young people: A practitioner manual, SAGE, Los Angeles, CA.

McLeod, J 2013, An introduction to counselling, 5th edn, McGraw Hill, Maidenhead, England.

Miller, L 2012, Counselling skills for social work, 2nd edn, SAGE, Los Angeles, CA.

Pattison, S, Robson, M & Beynon, A 2015, The handbook of counselling children and young people, SAGE, Los Angeles, CA.

Sue, DW & Sue, D 2016, Counselling the culturally diverse: Theory and practice, 7th edn, Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ. 

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