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

Suggested textbook for the course (to be purchased by the student)

Corey, G. (2012). Theory and practice of counselling and psychotherapy (9th 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.