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Cultural Competency and Counselling with Canada's Indigenous Peoples

Course Code: PSYC 3333
Faculty: Humanities & Social Sciences
Department: Psychology
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

Cultural awareness, cultural competence and cultural safety are important components in understanding the psychological health and wellness of Canada's Indigenous peoples. This course is designed to enhance students' competencies in understanding and working with Indigenous individuals and communities. The course will facilitate development of self-awareness, theoretical knowledge, and Indigenous knowledge of colonization and its impact on Indigenous peoples. It will introduce the social, historical, political, spiritual, and philosophical contexts that inform the psychological experiences of many Indigenous peoples and communities in Canada. The course will review concepts and principles of counselling psychology that enhance our understanding of and effectiveness in addressing client issues and multiple identities. The course also emphasizes counsellor roles and responsibilities for social justice and advocacy and provides learners with a foundation of knowledge and skills required to provide culturally appropriate counselling services to Indigenous families and individuals.

Course Content

1. Impact of colonization on psychological health

   a. Epidemics

   b. Residential schools

   c. Laws

   d. Indian Act

2. Counsellor roles and responsibilities with Indigenous Peoples

   a. Cultural competency/safety

      i. Definitions

      ii. Utility

      iii. Action

   b. Ethical principles and professional practice

3. Social justice issues in Counselling Indigenous Peoples

   a. Intersectionality: Multiple identities related to age, ability, gender, sexual orientation and identity, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, spirituality, socioeconomic status, and other intersecting aspects of identity

   b. Advocacy and ally work with Indigenous Clients

Methods of Instruction

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


Small/large group discussions

Personal reflections/activities


Video content

Guest lectures

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy. Evaluation will be based on the course objectives and includes some of the following:

1. Multiple choice, short answer, or essay exams

2. Term paper, research project, or written assignments

3. Group activities/work

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:

Test 1           20%

Term Paper    25%

Presentation   25%

Participation   10%

Test 2            20%

Total            100%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Describe and explain the history of colonization and its biopsychosocial impact on Indigenous peoples in Canada

2. Describe and explain cultural awareness, cultural competency and cultural safety

3. Analyze personal values that could impact cultural competency

4. Describe and explain concepts and principles of counselling psychology that enhance our understanding of addressing clients' "intersectionality"

5. Describe and explain counsellors' roles and responsibilities for social justice advocacy

6. Describe and explain what knowledge and skills are required for cultural competence with Indigenous peoples and families

7. Outline ethical and professional principles that guide social justice, cultural competence and advocacy work within counselling psychology

course prerequisites

PSYC 1100 and PSYC 1200


Courses listed here must be completed either prior to or simultaneously with this course:

  • No corequisite courses


Courses listed here are equivalent to this course and cannot be taken for further credit:

  • No equivalency courses

curriculum 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 schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.