Therapeutic Relationships in Mental Health

Health Sciences
Health Care Support Work
Course Code
HCSW 1190
Semester Length
10 weeks
Max Class Size
Method(s) Of Instruction
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
The focus of this course is to prepare students to develop therapeutic relationships through the use of communication skills. Empathy, warmth, genuineness, caring confrontation and immediacy will be taught. Assessment, communication, and motivational interviewing skills will be discussed as they relate to individuals experiencing mental health challenges. Conflict resolution, problem-solving, and leadership skills are also presented. Group therapy and stress management theories and techniques will be discussed. Therapeutic use of self, self-awareness, and trauma informed approaches as critical elements of developing therapeutic relationships are the foci of this course. Students will practice communication skills with actors in communication lab sessions.
Course Content
  • Self-awareness Concepts:
    • Values clarification
    • Johari window
    • Therapeutic use of self to promote client’s growth
    • Boundaries and limit-setting
  • Therapeutic relationships:
    • Types, phases, and strategies
    • Rogerian approach to develop caring therapeutic relationships based on the development of trust with individuals experiencing mental health challenges
  • Trauma informed practice
  • Therapeutic Communication Skills:
    • Listening and attending skills
    • Nonverbal communication and proxemics
    • S.O.L.E.R
    • Empathy, warmth, respect, and genuineness
    • Caring confrontation and immediacy
  • Client focused problem-solving, interventions and development of action plans
  • Conflict resolution:
    • Identifying resistance
    • Cycle of violence, and how/when to intervene on the continuum of violence
    • Strategies to manage difficult situations
  • Stress management techniques
  • Risk assessment and interventions
  • Assessment and communication skills for various categories of mental health disorders
  • Empowerment and misuse of power
  • Strategies to manage difficult situations:
    • Diffusing
    • De-escalating
    • Debriefing
  • Concepts of Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD)
  • Motivational interviewing skills
  • Application of interviewing and communication skills through structured lab interactions with “clients”
Learning Activities

CMHW/HCSW faculty facilitate student learning through a variety of learning activities which may include:

  • Case studies/scenarios
  • Group activities
  • Group discussions
  • Computer assisted learning programs
  • Use of electronic resources
  • Use of audiovisual aids
  • Guest speakers 
  • Communication lab sessions


Means of Assessment

Course evaluation is consistent with the Douglas College Evaluation Policy.  An evaluation schedule is presented at the beginning of the course.

This is a graded course.  

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, successful students will be able to:

  • Understand the importance of the therapeutic use of self during interactions with individuals experiencing mental health challenges
  • Understand the types, phases, and implementation strategies for therapeutic relationships
  • Demonstrate trauma informed approach in interactions
  • Demonstrate client-centered communication skills of active listening, attending, empathy, warmth, respect, genuineness, and beginning skills of caring confrontation and immediacy
  • Understand the problem-solving process in working with a client and/or multidisciplinary team
  • Understand the concepts and skills of conflict resolution
  • Demonstrate an understanding of stress management
  • Demonstrate the theory and application of conducting a risk assessment
  • Demonstrate the various communication skills associated with the various categories of mental health disorders
  • Understand the concepts of power and empowerment and their effects on therapeutic relationships
  • Identify escalating behaviours and strategies to diffuse, de-escalate, and debrief
  • Demonstrate basic motivational interviewing skills
Textbook Materials

Textbooks and Materials to be Purchased by Students

A list of recommended materials is provided to the students at the beginning of the semester.


Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for HCSW 1190
There are no applicable transfer credits for this course.

Course Offerings

Winter 2023