Group counselling: Theory and Practice

Humanities & Social Sciences
Course Code
PSYC 4371
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Method(s) Of Instruction
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
This course provides an introduction to group counselling theory and practice. Students learn about different types of groups: personal support (e.g., grief groups, Al-Anon), personal awareness (human potential/growth/self-awareness groups), decision-making (e.g., career decision-making groups), and interpersonal awareness/skill development, as well as group treatment of psychological disorders. They gain a basic understanding of group stages and processes. They learn how to plan a skills group and will facilitate a group exercise. This course is recommended for students who are interested in human service professions such as criminology, teaching, coaching, nursing, human resources, and counselling/clinical psychology.
Course Content
  1. Group stages and processes
  2. Group goals, purpose, and therapeutic forces
  3. Planning and early stages of groups
  4. Basic group leadership skills
  5. Ethics and dealing with problem situations in group contexts
  6. Establishing focus in groups
  7. How to use and debrief exercises
  8. Middle stage of groups
  9. Major group counselling theories
  10. Group counselling and psychotherapy
  11. Closing groups
  12. Ethics and expectations for working with specific populations and within a variety of settings
Learning Activities

The course will involve a number of instructional methods, such as the following:

  • Lecture
  • Skills demonstration/practice of specific group counselling skills
  • Small group activities
  • Group discussions
  • Computer simulations
  • Video/DVD Case Studies
  • Guest lectures
Means of Assessment

The course evaluation will be in accordance with Douglas College and Psychology Department policies. Evaluations will be based on the course objectives. The specific evaluation criteria will be provided by the instructor at the beginning of the semester.

An example of a possible evaluation scheme would be:

Participation - 5%

Written assignments/papers - 20%

Exams - 3 at 20% each - 60%

Group leadership skills demonstrations - 15%

Total - 100%

Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course, the successful student will be able to:

  1. Identify appropriate purposes and goals for various types of counselling groups
  2. Describe group dynamics and processes inherent in groups
  3. Outline group stages and describe the tasks in each stage
  4. Describe basic group leadership styles and approaches
  5. Describe the characteristics and functions of effective group leaders
  6. Identify strategies to effectively and appropriately employ group selection criteria and methods
  7. Describe a range of group types and factors that influence groups in diverse settings
  8. Plan a skills counselling group with clearly defined outcomes
  9. Demonstrate the ability to introduce, conduct and debrief a group exercise
  10. Describe the ethical issues involved in conducting groups with diverse client groups
  11. Analyze how major counselling theories apply to group counselling processes
  12. Identify common group processes and problematic behaviours
  13. Discuss the importance of cultural awareness and competency and its application in a multicultural context
Textbook Materials

Textbook(s) such as the following, the list to be updated periodically:

  • Jacobs, E.E., Schimmel, C.J., Masson, R.L., & Harvill, R.L. (2016). Group counseling: Strategies and skills (7th Ed.). Belmont, California: Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning.


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 PSYC 4371
Athabasca University (AU) AU PSYC 2XX (3)
Capilano University (CAPU) CAPU PSYC 4XX (3)
Coast Mountain College (CMTN) No credit
College of the Rockies (COTR) COTR PSYC 4XX (3)
Columbia College (COLU) No credit
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) KPU CNPS 4330 (3)
Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU PSYC 3XX (3)
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) TRU PSYC 3XXX (3)
University Canada West (UCW) UCW PSYC 4XX (3)
University of Northern BC (UNBC) UNBC SOCW 437 (3)
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) UFV PSYC 4XX (3)
University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC PSYC 2XX (1.5)

Course Offerings

Winter 2023