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Counselling Theory and Practice I

Course Code: SOWK 2122
Faculty: Child, Family & Community Studies
Department: Social Work
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15 weeks
Learning Format: Lecture, Seminar
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

This methods course introduces students to the foundation skills of interviewing and counselling. It emphasizes the importance of versatility in working with individuals in social work settings. Students will explore and apply interviewing and counselling skills for information gathering, relationship development, goal setting, and problem solving. Using a strengths approach, students will reflect on their interactions with others and explore ways to promote self-determination and empowerment. Self-awareness will be emphasized as a critical prerequisite for effective practice.

Course Content

Course content will be guided by research, empirical knowledge and best practice. The following values and principles, consistent with professional standards, inform course content.

  • Skill versatility enables social workers to customize their approach based on the unique needs of their clients’ culture and situation
  • Exploration and reflection on one’s competence and the limits of one’s role and expertise are fundamental to professional practice.
  • Self-awareness regarding one’s personal style, values, effect on others, skills and the influence of past experiences are essential prerequisites for skilled communication and counselling.
  • Effective counselling and interviewing is empowering; it builds on clients’ strengths and their inherent capacity for growth and change.
  • Skill is necessary but insufficient for competent practice.  Technical proficiency must be balanced with a caring attitude, acceptance of a wide range of behaviour and cultures, and respect for the rights of others including their right to self-determination.
  • Effective counselling work is collaborative; counsellors involve and consult with clients regarding their respective roles, the purpose of the work, and methods that will be used to achieve goals.
  • Effective practitioners know how, when and why a given skill is used, and they have the assertiveness, understanding, and creativity and sensitivity to use it when appropriate.

Methods of Instruction

Instructor demonstration
Practice simulations
Small group discussion
Video recording and analysis.

Means of Assessment

This course will conform to Douglas College policy regarding the number and weighting of evaluations. Typical means of assessment may include some or all of the following:

  • Written papers
  • Exams
  • Presentations (individual or group).

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Describe the importance of self-awareness

  • Identify skill strengths and limitations,
  • Explore personal values, beliefs, behaviours and traditions and these may impact the counselling relationship,
  • Describe the appropriate use of counsellor self-disclosure;

2. Demonstrate knowledge of the process of counselling (phases, associated tasks, skills)

  • Describe the phases of counselling,
  • Define the range of counselling skills and their appropriate use;

3. Describe the characteristics of a counselling relationship,

  • Demonstrate ability to negotiate counselling contracts,
  • Explain the importance of the core conditions of warmth, empathy, genuineness and positive regard,
  • Describe strategies for beginning, ending and sustaining counselling relationships;

4. Demonstrate knowledge of basic communication and responding skills

  • Demonstrate active listening skills (asking questions, paraphrasing, summarizing, attending, using silence, empathy),
  • Explore strategies for overcoming listening barriers,
  • Identify the components of nonverbal communication;

5. Identify the elements of a strengths approach to promote client empowerment;

6. Demonstrate ability to develop action plans for problem management and change

  • Demonstrate ability to formulate SMART (specific, measureable, achievable, realistic, time focused) goals,
  • Demonstrate ability to develop baselines;

7. Demonstrate versatility with a range of interviewing skills and strategies.

course prerequisites





YJWD 1220

CSSW 1122

CYCC 1220

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.