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COU5007 Counselling Issues and Contexts

Semester 2, 2019 External
Short Description: Counselling Issues & Contexts
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences
School or Department : School of Psychology and Counselling
Student contribution band : Band 1
ASCED code : 090513 - Counselling
Grading basis : Graded
Version produced : 21 May 2019


Examiner: Nathan Beel


Pre-requisite: Students must be enrolled in one of the following Programs: GCCO or GDCN or MCCO or PDEV or GCHH or GDHH or MOHH


The knowledge and skills acquired in this course are designed to address areas of competence specified in the PACFA accreditation standards for postgraduate counselling training, and will be relevant to similar standards in most allied health disciplines. Counsellor education at an advanced level requires a continued examination of issues introduced in previous studies and the development of clear conceptual and theoretical frameworks which underpin professional practice. Thus, this course introduces specific issues of therapeutic counselling and contains an intensive skill development and practice component which links to specific therapies within a designated transtheoretical model. This approach is then embedded in counselling practice. This course informs and provides the foundation for other courses in the counselling stream, COU5010, COU5006, and COU5009, as well as underpinning the learning outcomes for the various specialisations and advanced degrees in the counselling stream.


The course introduces students to transtheoretical notions of change and resistance. It then introduces students to a range of settings and contexts that counsellors operate in, including various compositions of clients being treated (individual, couple, family, group). It introduces different client groups that requires counsellors to demonstrate sensitivity to various diverse experiences. Its final part is surveying commonly presenting issues in counselling, their features, assessment, and treatment.

This course contains a mandatory four-day residential school and 10 hours mandatory online synchronous workshops.


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

  1. broad knowledge of symptoms, risk factors, and other associated features linked with a range of commonly presenting client issues;
  2. understanding of a range of specific and customised treatment philosophies and interventions currently applied to commonly presenting client issues;
  3. knowledge of different contexts and client configurations and contextual and individual diversity.
  4. express an understanding of past and current influences in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  5. advanced academic and professional literacy through a critical understanding, application and justification of counselling approaches and theory;
  6. understanding of key transtheoretical concepts that inform counselling practice
  7. specialist comprehension and critical analysis of the context, prevention and treatment approaches relevant for one client group and issue.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Counsellor effectiveness: Research and debates 7.00
2. Transtheoretical change principles 7.00
3. Diversity in counselling: General principles and special populations 16.00
4. Indigenous experience, history, and perspectives 7.00
5. Diversity in the life span 7.00
6. Diversity of formats of delivery: (E.g. couple, family, group and technology assisted counselling) 7.00
7. Anxiety, depression and obsessive behaviour 7.00
8. Crisis and trauma 7.00
9. Grief and loss 7.00
10. Self-harming and suicide 7.00
11. Abuse 7.00
12. Addictions 7.00
13. Spirituality and meaning 7.00

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. (

McLeod, J 2013, An Introduction to Counselling, 5th edn, Open University Press, Berkshire.

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.
Duncan B 2010, On becoming a better therapist, American Psychological Association, Washington DC.
Duncan, B, Miller, S & Sparks, J 2004, The heroic client: A revolutionary way to improve effectiveness through client-directed, outcome-informed therapy, rev edn, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.
(Also available online via USQ Library site.).
O'Donovan, A, Casey, L, van der Veen, M & Boschen, M 2013, Psychotherapy, An Australian Perspective, IP Communications, East Hawthorn.

Student workload expectations

Activity Hours
Assessments 40.00
Directed Study 30.00
Online Tutorials 10.00
Private Study 55.00
Residential Schools 30.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
Attendance Requirements 1 0 16 Jul 2019 (see note 1)
Assignment 1 100 40 31 Aug 2019 (see note 2)
Assignment 2 100 45 12 Oct 2019 (see note 3)
Moodle Quiz 100 15 08 Nov 2019 (see note 4)

  1. Attendance is required at the scheduled residential school and online synchronous tutorials. The dates and location of the mandatory residential school are available from the Residential School Timetable ( The dates and location of the mandatory residential school are available from the Residential School Timetable ().The online synchronous workshops schedule is located on the Grad Dip and Master of Couselling Studydesk site.
  2. Choice of assignment from a range of topics related to objectives 1-6.
  3. Choice of assignment from a range of therapy issues and populations related to topics 3 - 13.
  4. Quiz dates will be available on the course Studydesk from the beginning of the semester.

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    Students must attend the mandatory residential school and online synchronous tutorials. Students who are unable to complete the mandatory residential school because of Compassionate and Compelling Circumstances may be eligible to defer that Assessment Item in accordance with the Assessment Procedure (point 4.4).

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete the attendance requirements, students must attend the mandatory residential school and online synchronous tutorials to achieve a mark of 1 out of 1 for this assessment item. To complete the remaining assessment items satisfactorily students must achieve at least 50% of the marks for that item.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must attend and achieve a mark of 1 out of 1 for the mandatory residential school and the online synchronous tutorials and 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 aggregate of the weighted marks obtained for each of the summative items for the course.

  6. Examination information:
    NO EXAM: There is no exam in this course. The on-line quiz is a separate and required assessment and should not be confused with an exam.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    NO EXAM: There is no examination in this course, so there will be no deferred or supplementary examinations.

  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 must familiarise themselves with the USQ Assessment Procedures (

  2. APA style is the referencing system required in this course. Students must use 6th edition 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.

  3. Reliable access to the internet is a requirement of this course as the course contains electronic assessment and submission elements. Students who knowingly do not have reliable access to the internet should actively seek alternative internet access (e.g., Internet cafes, local libraries, or work places) for assessment submission and electronic assessment attempts. All students are able to use the on-campus student computer laboratories once access has been enabled. To be granted access, external students need to contact ICT and ask to have a student account enabled so that they can work on-campus.

Evaluation and benchmarking

In meeting the University’s aims to establish quality learning and teaching for all programs, this course monitors and ensures quality assurance and improvements in at least two ways. This course:
1. conforms to the USQ Policy on Evaluation of Teaching, Courses and Programs to ensure ongoing monitoring and systematic improvement.
2. forms part of the Graduate Certificate of Counselling, the Graduate Diploma of Counselling, and the Masters of Counselling, and is benchmarked against the:
o internal USQ accreditation/reaccreditation processes which include (i) stringent standards in the independent accreditation of its academic programs, (ii) close integration between business and academic planning, and (iii) regular and rigorous review;
o professional accreditation standards of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia Training Standards, 2014.

Other requirements

  1. Computer, e-mail and Internet access:
    Students are required to have access to a personal computer, e-mail capabilities and Internet access to UConnect. Current details of computer requirements can be found at

  2. Students can expect that questions in assessment items in this course may draw upon knowledge and skills that they can reasonably be expected to have acquired before enrolling in this course. This includes knowledge contained in pre-requisite courses and appropriate communication, information literacy, analytical, critical thinking, problem solving or numeracy skills. Students who do not possess such knowledge and skills should not expect the same grades as those students who do possess them.

  3. Mandatory attendance at residential schools and online synchronous tutorials supports requirements of professional counsellor training and membership standards and assists students to meet course learning objectives.