Counselling Theory Syllabus

Certificate in Counselling Theory

Module 1: Introduction to Counselling Theory

Topics Studied

• Introduction to counselling theory
• The basis of a good theory
• Similarities and differences
• An overview of different theoretical approaches
• Examining the research
• Counselling theories versus counselling models
• The nature of counselling
• Counselling microskills
• Brushing up on skills: Effective listening
• Self-awareness and professional boundaries

Learning Outcomes and Summary of Objectives

Upon successful completion of this learning module, the student should be able to:

• Specify the basis of a good theory
• Describe the key counselling models
• Assess what is meant by an eclectic approach

Module 2: The Psychodynamic and Behavioural Approaches


Topics Studied

• Freud and psychodynamic theory
• The psychodynamic approach and human nature
• The triadic structure of personality
• Freud’s psychosexual stages
• Freud and defense mechanisms
• The goals of the psychodynamic approach
• Therapeutic techniques and processes (The psychodynamic approach)
• Introducing the behavioural approach
• The behavioural approach and human nature
• Classical conditioning, stimulus generalization and habituation
• Instrumental learning
• Schedules of reinforcement
• The goals of the behavioural approach
• Therapeutic techniques and processes (The behavioural approach)

Learning Outcomes and Summary of Objectives

Upon successful completion of this learning module, the student should be able to:

• Paraphrase the key components of the psychoanalytic and behavioural approaches
• Describe different techniques and skills associated with each approach
• Justify the continued use of fundamental psychoanalytical or behavioural counselling skills

Module 3: The Humanistic and Cognitive-Behavioural Approaches

Topics Studied

• The Humanistic approach and human nature
• The self and the self concept
• Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
• The goals of the humanistic approach
• Therapeutic techniques and processes (The humanistic approach)
• The core counsellor qualities
• The cognitive-behavioural approach and human nature
• The role of thoughts, or cognitions
• Understanding the difference between automatic thoughts and core beliefs
• Playing by the rules
• The goals of counselling
• The assessment process and the ABC model
• Therapeutic techniques and processes (The cognitive-behavioural approach)
• Essential counsellor skills: Developing a feelings vocabulary

Learning Outcomes and Summary of Objectives

Upon successful completion of this learning module, the student should be able to:

• List the core counsellor qualities
• Describe Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
• Distinguish between automatic thoughts and core beliefs

Module 4: The Social Constructionist Approaches

Topics Studied

• Social constructionism and human nature
• Social constructionism and the therapeutic relationship
• The solution-focused approach
• Visitor, complainant or customer?
• The stages of solution building
• Therapeutic techniques and processes (A solution-focused approach)
• A narrative approach
• Therapeutic techniques and processes (A narrative approach)
• Reauthoring the story

Learning Outcomes and Summary of Objectives

Upon successful completion of this learning module, the student should be able to:

• Paraphrase the main elements in the narrative and solution-focused approaches
• Relate the different techniques and skills associated with each approach
• Justify the use of key narrative or solution-focused counselling skills

Module 5: The Family Systems Approach

Topics Studied

• Introducing a family systems approach
• The key concepts in a family systems approach
• Family structure
• Two common relationship patterns
• Family rules
• Satir’s four communication styles
• Counselling goals
• Therapeutic techniques and processes
• Genograms

Learning Outcomes and Summary of Objectives

Upon successful completion of this learning module, the student should be able to:

• Explain what is meant by “the family rules”
• Restate Satir’s four communication styles
• Construct a genogram

Module 6: The Feminist and Multicultural Approaches

Topics Studied

• The feminist approach
• How problems occur
• The goals of counselling (The feminist approach)
• The therapeutic process
• The multi-culturally sensitive approach
• Basic propositions
• Understanding oppression
• The goals of counselling (The multicultural approach)
• Therapeutic techniques and processes
• Some barriers to support

Learning Outcomes and Summary of Objectives

Upon successful completion of this learning module, the student should be able to:

• List some different types of oppression
• Discuss the main tenets of the feminist and multicultural approaches
• Assess the therapeutic processes in the feminist and multicultural approaches

Required reading for the course

Corey, G. (2009). Case approach to counselling and psychotherapy (7th ed.). Scarborough, ON: Nelson Thomson Learning.

Duration of the Course

Successful completion of this course is estimated to be approximately 200 hours. Students should allocate approximately eight hours a week for reading, personal study, completion of reflection activities and submission of assignments. There is one marked assignment per module. Courses are offered on a part-time basis and are designed to be completed within six months.