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Group counselling: Theory and Practice

Course Code: PSYC 4371
Faculty: Humanities & Social Sciences
Department: Psychology
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15 weeks
Learning Format: Lecture
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

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

Methods of Instruction

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

course prerequisites

Both PSYC 1100 and PSYC 1200 AND one of PSYC 3333 or PSYC 3375 or PSYC 4370





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.