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PSY4030 Skills and Issues in Counselling

Semester 1, 2013 On-campus Springfield
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Sciences
School or Department : Psychology
Version produced : 21 July 2014

Contents on this page


Examiner: Andrea Quinn
Moderator: Hong Eng Goh


Pre-requisite: Students must be enrolled in Program BSCH in Psychology major (12302) or Program BPSH


This course is designed to provide a solid foundation in the basic skills and concepts needed to pursue a career in counselling, and it comprises the counselling practice component of the program. Other professional issues specifically related to counselling practice, including cross-cultural sensitivity and awareness, are also covered in this course in order to ensure that students are aware of the parameters of appropriate professional practice.


This course provides students with a thorough understanding of the counselling process. The focus of the course is practical with reference to previously learnt counselling theory. Students will develop the basic foundation skills of counselling, as well as the ability to formulate, plan and evaluate therapy. Professional issues pertaining to all aspects of counselling will be covered in detail, as well as contextual issues impacting upon the client and the therapeutic process. These issues include gender and cross-cultural issues. There is an emphasis on both personal and professional self-exploration and development. Toowoomba Campus: This course will be offered via two compulsory workshops on-campus, each of two days' duration, and by self-directed study, readings, assignments and web-based discussion groups. Springfield Campus: This course will be offered via weekly classes which incorporate practical and regular written work, part of which will form the assessment.


On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate a capacity for planning and conducting professional counselling to individuals presenting with a variety of problems;
  2. demonstrate a sound knowledge and understanding of the relevant professional skills and issues associated with counselling practice;
  3. demonstrate an understanding of and sensitivity toward cross-cultural issues in counselling diverse populations.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Week/Module One: THE COUNSELLOR: PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL - what is counselling? - counsellors in therapy - the counselling relationship - issues faced by beginning counsellors - ethical and professional issues related to professional practice 10.00
2. Week/Module Two: THE CLIENT IN CONTEXT - contextual issues that impact upon the client and the counselling process - multicultural issues in counselling - gender issues in counselling - developmental/lifespan issues in counselling. Practicum: Developing a Viable Client Agreement Form - Round Table Discussion 10.00
3. Week/Module Three: BASIC COUNSELLING SKILLS - attending skills and behaviour - empathic listening. Practicum: Group Therapy 1: "Gary's Dilemma" 10.00
4. Week/Module Four: BASIC COUNSELLING SKILLS, cont'd - use of questions and language - opening communication - timing in therapy. Practicum: "Group Therapy 2: Boss From Hell" 5.00
5. Week/Module Five: BASIC COUNSELLING SKILLS, cont'd - client observation skills - individual styles and perception. Practicum: Group Therapy 3: "I Wanna Be Schizo" 5.00
6. Week/Module Six: BASIC COUNSELLING SKILLS, cont'd - encouraging, paraphrasing and summarising - helping clients tell their story. Practicum: Group Therapy 4: Dave's Little Secret 10.00
7. Week/Module Seven: BASIC COUNSELLING SKILLS, cont'd - reflection of clients' feelings. Practicum: Group Therapy 5: "Sam's Dad" 10.00
8. Week/Module Eight: INTEGRATION OF BASIC COUNSELLING SKILLS - structuring the overall counselling process - establishing rapport - gathering information and defining the problem - determining goals - exploring alternatives - generalisation and transfer of learning. Practicum: Dyads. Students pair off - one is therapist and one is client. "Client" role-plays as if he/she had the diagnosis studied, "therapist" uses skills to elicit information that might assist with diagnosis. 10.00
9. Week/Module Nine: ADVANCED COUNSELLING SKILLS - use of confrontation - working with grief and loss. Practicum: Dyads 2. Last week's clients become therapists and vice-versa. Diagnosis selected between weeks 7 and 8 is used by client. 5.00
10. Week/Module Ten: ADVANCED COUNSELLING SKILLS, cont'd - focussing - the genogram. Practicum: Develop your own personal genogram and identify issues relevant to things that are happening in your life (positive or negative) at the time. 5.00
11. Week/Module Eleven: ADVANCED COUNSELLING SKILLS, cont'd - eliciting and reflecting meaning - exploring clients' values and beliefs. Practicum: Group Therapy: "Cliffie" 5.00
12. Week/Module Twelve: ADVANCED COUNSELLING SKILLS, cont'd - interpersonal influencing skills and strategies (interpretation, feedback, advice, self-disclosure, directives). Practicum: Group Therapy: "Bill" 5.00
13. Week/Module Thirteen: SKILL INTEGRATION - planning and evaluation. Practicum: Group discussion of course contents and personal/professional development. 10.00

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, MB & Zalaquet, CP 2010, Intentional interviewing and counselling: facilitating client development in a multicultural society, 7th edn, Brooks/Cole, Pacific Grove, CA.
  • Shpancer, N 2010, The Good Psychologist, Abacus, London, UK.

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.
  • Egan, G 2010, The Skilled Helper, 9th edn, Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning, Belmont, CA.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Assessments 48.00
Class Contact 39.00
Private Study 91.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
GENOGRAM 20 20 21 Mar 2013
THERAPIST'S REPORT 50 50 30 May 2013 (see note 1)

  1. Client data on the therapist will be provided to the therapist following role-play activities to support completion of the reflective practice essay. While not specifically for credit, it is expected that feedback will be provided from the 'client' to the 'therapist', as this is a professional issue of assisting one's peers to improve their performance.

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    As this is a core, practical course, attendance at most classes will be necessary, particularly where the role play activities related to the Reflective Practice Essay are to be conducted. Attendance at a minimum of three of the in-class practica sessions will be required for students to demonstrate progression in the development of their microskills. Thus attendance is strongly recommended, in order to ensure that feedback is completed for all students.

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

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    If students submit assignments after the due date without prior approval then a penalty of 5% of the total marks gained by the student for the assignment will apply for each working day late.

  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 for this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    There will be no 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. Students are required to participate in weekly in-class practica, in order to develop their micro-counselling skills throughout the semester. Brief practice sessions for a range of core microskills will be conducted each week in class. While it is understandable that a week or two may be missed during the semester, a MINIMUM of 3 practics sessions will be required for the Reflective Practice Essay, as the essay will be directly based on client and observer data completed at the end of each practice session. Failure to obtain sufficient data through active participation in the practice sessions will limit the student’s ability to effectively complete the Reflective Practice Essay assignment.

  2. Students must submit a 45 minute videotape of a role-played counselling session where the student, in the role of the counsellor, uses the skills learned in the course. For purposes of this exercise, a volunteer recruited by the student will take the role of the client. The issue(s) discussed in the role-play are of the student's choosing and are not relevant to the assessment. The videotaped session is to be evaluated by the student according to the format provided in the Course Outline and both the tape and the self-evaluation are to be submitted to the examiner. Students will be marked only on their self-evaluation and not on the videotaped session itself. Thus, they are assessed on the basis of their appraisal of their performance and not on their actual performance. However, where a skill or technique may not have been used during the session, the student is still expected to demonstrate understanding of that concept and its application.

  3. Assignment submission will generally be through the ‘Assignment Drop Box’ on Level 1 of the Springfield building. The due date for an assignment is the date by which a student must despatch an assignment to the USQ. The onus is on the student to provide proof of the despatch date, if requested by the examiner; STUDENTS MUST RETAIN A DATED RECEIPT FROM THE POST OFFICE WHEN POSTING ASSIGNMENTS.

  4. Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment. This must be despatched to the USQ within 24 hours of receipt of a request to do so.

  5. In accordance with University Policy, the examiner may grant an extension of the due date of an assignment in extenuating circumstances. STUDENTS MUST CONTACT THE EXAMINER DIRECTLY, IN ADVANCE, IN ORDER TO OBTAIN AN EXTENSION. University policy regarding extensions and late submissions will be strictly enforced as a matter of accountability and preparation for the professional workforce.

  6. The Faculty of Sciences will NOT accept submission of assignments by facsimile.

  7. Students must obtain 50% of the marks for each assessment item to qualify for a Passing grade It is expected that all students will gain at least 50% of the total marks available for all summative items.Note that the Conceded Pass is not available in this course due to APAC accreditation standard 2.1.9.

  8. APA style is the referencing system required in this course. Students should use APA style in their assignments to format details of the information sources they have cited in their work. The APA style to be used is defined by the USQ Library's referencing guide.

Other requirements

  1. Students will require regular access to e-mail and internet access to UConnect for this course.

  2. Core topics will be discussed for the first part of class, then practical elements of applied practice will be developed.