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NUR5520 Introduction to Counselling Skills

Semester 2, 2012 External Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Sciences
School or Department : Nursing and Midwifery
Version produced : 30 December 2013

Contents on this page


Examiner: Helen Nutter
Moderator: Cath Rogers


Pre-requisite: Students must be enrolled in one of the following Programs: MNRS or MNRH or PDEV or SING or MMPO


Most of the contact people have with nursing professionals occurs when the person or client needs assistance or is under stress. Nurses, because of their trusted and caring roles, are ideally suited to help people deal with psychosocial difficulties as well as their physical problems. While many nurses are skilled in therapeutic communication practices, at times this does not fulfil the requirements of clients needing more intensive communication skills to help them meet their needs. The development of micro-counselling skills as well as the use of reflection to promote self-understanding and lifelong professional development in nursing practice builds on communication and interaction skills already learned and practised within the therapeutic milieu. It is envisaged that nursing students will be able to apply the skills developed in this course to a variety of nurse / patient and nurse / staff scenarios.


The foundational principle of this course is based on the premise that there are two people in a helping relationship: the nurse and the client. The better the understanding nurses have of themselves, the better they are able to help others to work on their own personal difficulties. Students in this course will have an opportunity to develop their knowledge and understanding of a range of theoretical concepts underpinning counselling. The specific focus of this course will encompass two broad areas including reflective skills for self-awareness and professional development, and secondly the development and facilitation of specific counselling micro-skills to be utilised in a variety of nurse / patient situations. Students will have the opportunity to reflect on their performance in developing their micro counselling skills to assist their understanding of the competency required for therapeutic outcomes.


On completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. discuss the purpose and ethics of counselling in nursing practice;
  2. discuss the importance of developing reflective skills for self-understanding in the development of interpersonal counselling skills;
  3. critically discuss the theoretical frameworks that underpin counselling strategies used in nursing practice;
  4. critically reflect upon the development of their personal style as a counsellor;
  5. develop specific micro-counselling skills; and
  6. examine the impact of culture on interpersonal communication.


Description Weighting(%)
1. REFLECTION ON PRACTICE: Developing reflective skills for professional development and lifelong learning; The aims of counselling; Ethics in counselling 15.00
2. THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES: Pepleau's Theory of Communication, The Behaviourist Perspective Systems Theory, Symbolic Internationalism, Client-Centred Counselling 15.00
3. SELF-AWARENESS: The Importance of Self-awareness, Strategies for Improving Self-awareness, Impact of Culture on Communications 15.00
4. MICRO-COUNSELLING SKILLS: Attending and Cultural Context, Listening and Cultural Context, Empathy, Warmth and Cultural Context, Authenticity and Cultural Context, Self-disclosure and Cultural Context 55.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

  • Ivey, AE, Ivey, M & Zalaquett, C 2010, Intentional interviewing & counselling: facilitating client development in a multicultural society, 7th edn, Brooks/Cole, Belmont, Cal.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
  • Boyd, M 2005, Psychiatric nursing: Contemporary Practice, Thompson, New York.
  • Burdess, N 1998, The Handbook of Student Skills: for the social sciences and humanities, 2nd edn, Prentice Hall, New York.
  • Frisch, N & Frisch, L 2009, Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing, 4th edn, Thompson, New York.
  • Hutchinson, D 2007, The Essential Counselor: Process, Skills & Techniques, Lahaska Press, Boston.
  • Pearson, A, Vaughan, B & Fitzgerald, M 2003, Nursing Models for Practice (Rev), 3rd edn, Heinemann, London.
  • Rogers-Clark, C, Martin-McDonald, K, & McCarthy, A 2005, Living with Illness: Psychosocial Challenges for Nursing, Elsevier, Sydney.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Assessments 80.00
Directed Study 50.00
Private Study 45.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
ASSIGNMENT 1 50 50 24 Sep 2012
ASSIGNMENT 2: PARTS A & B 50 50 22 Oct 2012

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the students' responsibility to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To complete each of the assessment items satisfactorily, students must obtain at least 50% of the marks available for each assessment item.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    If students submit assignments after the due date without (prior) approval of the examiner then a penalty of 5% of the total marks gained by the student for the assignment may apply for each working day late up to ten working days at which time a mark of zero may be recorded. No assignments will be accepted after model answers have been posted.

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the weighted aggregate of the marks obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    There is no examination in this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    There will be no Deferred or Supplementary examinations in this course.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. The due date for an assignment is the date by which a student must despatch the assignment to the USQ. The onus is on the student to provide proof of the despatch date, if requested by the Examiner.

  2. Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment. If requested, students will be required to provide a copy of assignments submitted for assessment purposes. Such copies should be despatched to USQ within 24 hours of receipt of a request being made.

  3. The examiner may grant an extension of the due date of an assignment in extenuating circumstances.

  4. The Faculty will normally only accept assessments that have been written, typed or printed on paper-based media.

  5. The Faculty will NOT accept submission of assignments by facsimile.

  6. Students who do not have regular access to postal services or who are otherwise disadvantaged by these regulations may be given special consideration. They should contact the examiner of the course to negotiate such special arrangements.

  7. In the event that a due date for an assignment falls on a local public holiday in their area, such as a Show holiday, the due date for the assignment will be the next day. Students are to note on the assignment cover the date of the public holiday for the Examiner's convenience.

  8. Students who have undertaken all of the required assessments in a course but who have failed to meet some of the specified objectives of a course within the normally prescribed time may be awarded the temporary grade: IM (Incomplete - Make up). An IM grade will only be awarded when, in the opinion of the examiner, a student will be able to achieve the remaining objectives of the course after a period of non directed personal study.