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Counselling Skills Fundamentals

Course Code: PSYC 4370
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

This course provides an introduction to counselling interviewing skills. The topics covered include the helping relationship, the helping process and the communication skills required in the therapeutic dialogue. Students are expected to self-disclose and engage in self-exploration, as the bulk of the course will focus on using counseling skills with fellow classmates. This course is recommended for students who are interested in human service professions such as criminal justice, teaching, coaching, nursing, human resources, social work, and counselling/clinical psychology.

Course Content

1.The helping relationship

  • The components of an effective helping relationship
  • Values that drive the helping relationship
  • Professional ethics/code of ethics 
  • Diversity as part of client/counsellor interactions

2. The helping process

  • Clarifying the key issues
  • Engaging the other
  • Overcoming reluctance and resistance

3. Communication skills in the therapeutic dialogue

  • Non verbal behaviour 
  • Active listening
  • Empathic listening and responding
  • Basic and advanced empathic listening and responding
  • Probing and summarizing
  • Challenging client assumptions and moving to new perspectives

Methods of Instruction

Lecture and skills demonstration/practice of specific counselling skills will be the primary methods of instruction. The course may also involve other methods of instructions such as small group activities, group discussion, computer simulations, video/DVDs, and guest lectures.

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy. Evaluation will be based on 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. Taped demonstration of counselling skills

The instructor will provide a written course outline with specific evaluation at the beginning of the semester.

An example of a possible evaluation scheme is as follows:

Exams - 25%

Three video tapes of skill demonstrations and transcripts - 20%, 25%, 25%

Attendance - 5%

Total - 100%

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the course, the successful student should be able to:

  1. Delineate the key elements of successful helping
  2. Analyze personal values that could impact the helping relationship
  3. Outline ethical principles that guide helping relationships
  4. Explain how stereotyping and being judgmental hinders helping
  5. Demonstrate how to clarify key issues
  6. Explain how reluctance and resistance operate in helping relationships
  7. Demonstrate attending skills
  8. Demonstrate active listening skills
  9. Demonstrate basic and advanced empathic listening and responding skills
  10. Demonstrate the skill of probing
  11. Demonstrate the skill of summarizing
  12. Demonstrate the skill of challenging client assumptions

course prerequisites

Minimum 45 credits completed, including 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.