Fall 2018 - EDUC 870 G002

Theories of Counselling (3)

Class Number: 9849

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 4:30 PM – 8:20 PM
    SUR 3260, Surrey

  • Prerequisites:

    Acceptance to the MA/MEd counselling psychology program or permission of instructor. Students must successfully complete a Criminal Record Check.



Students examine analytic, phenomenological, existential, behavioral and cognitive approaches to counselling, and the philosophical and personality theories upon which they are based.


Students participating in this course will explore the role of theory in counselling practice. The goal of the course is to enable participants to formulate and articulate a workable theoretical framework to guide their counselling practice. Towards this goal, learners will: investigate their own values and beliefs about humans, our social worlds, and human change processes; study the major theories of counselling and psychotherapy; examine how theories emerge from, align with, and reflect assumptions about humans, our social worlds, and change. To support the process of selecting and/or integrating commensurable theories students will: critically evaluate the evidence base for counselling or psychotherapy in general, and for particular approaches or applications; identify research approaches used to evaluate the effectiveness and efficacy of counselling;examine evidence for the therapeutic alliance as a key common factor; examine approaches to integrating psychotherapeutic approaches; critically reflect on the application of theories to counselling in the context of Canada's commitments to Truth and Reconciliation, pluralism and human rights.

Basic familiarity with the major theories of counselling (e.g., psychodynamic, gestalt, person-centred, cognitive-behavioural) is a prerequisite for this course. This course does not provide a historical survey of theoretical schools. Instead, emerging, current and foundational theories are explored through questions: 1) What constitutes healthy human functioning or well-being? (i.e. view of humans and health) 2) What constitutes problematic or maladaptive functioning that can be addressed through counselling? 3)  How do humans change? 4) What role do counselling and counsellors play in producing or influencing change? 5) How does counselling proceed? 6) How is the effectiveness of counselling understood and evaluated?



Student participating in this course will:

1) Use current scholarship to formulate and articulate a working theory of counselling that will guide their counselling practice.

2) Conceptualize the therapeutic change process through their working theory.

3) Participate in their cohort community as a counselling professional-in-training  

To accomplish the first two goals, over the term students will:

  • Engage in close reading of the major psychotherapeutic theories in use today, their philosophical underpinnings, supporting evidence, and psychotherapeutic applications.
  • Compare, contrast and critique theoretical approaches in relation to their epistemology, ontology, view of humans, change process,supporting evidence, and ethics. 
  • Engage in critical self-reflexivity to understand how their own social positionality, values, and experience relate to their working theory of counselling;
  • Critique theories from critical Indigenous, multicultural or  social justice perspectives for their application in schools or community counselling settings in Canada.
  • Critically read and evaluate evidence of efficacy and effectiveness of psychotherapies.
  • Examine approaches to integration of theory into practice.
Academic competencies that support these goals will be practiced and developed. Students will: 
  • Read, synthesize, analyse and interpret scholarship related to counselling theories 
  • Conduct a thorough review of the literature relevant to a theory of their choice.
  • Demonstrate clear, compelling academic writing that adheres to APA style guidelines. 
  • Present concepts in class discussion 
  • Guide an experiential or participatory practice exercise based on one of the counselling theories

Students are asked to conduct themselves as professionals- in-training in all of their cohort and classroom interactions. Norms will be discussed early in the term in order to generate shared intentions. To support the goal of professional conduct, students will practice: 
  • respect and integrity in relationships
  • self-reflexivity 
  • willingness to engage in feedback (offer, receive, respond and integrate)


  • Participation in class and online 15%%
  • Reflection paper 5%%
  • Critique paper 15%%
  • Major paper 40%%
  • Workshop / Presentation Facilitation 25%%


Participation Expectations   Active participation in the group discussions, in class presentations and activities, and the online environment wills stimulate inquiry, support reflection and enhance your ability to critically evaluate theories of counselling. To fully participate, come to class with assigned readings completed, prepared to discuss the weekly topic. As part of your preparation expect to spend an additional 30-60 minutes per week engaging with on-line components of the class. These include videos and discussion threads. Extensive experience with blended delivery learning formats has shown that supplementing in-class discussions with online reflections and dialogue stimulates deeper levels of thinking and analysis, increases student participation rates, and overall yields greater learning outcomes.   100% class attendance and punctually is expected. Students are expected to manage their work and extracurricular responsibilities to ensure 100% attendance and punctuality. Report absences due to illness or family emergency to the instructor, in advance when possible.    

Writing Assignments   In addition to  participation online and in class, evaluation comprises three individual writing assignments that build on each other. Writing the concept paper and critique move you towards articulating your working theoretical base in the major paper. Detailed guidelines for each assignment will be provided in class. Class time will also provide opportunities for peer and instructor feedback and critique. You will be submitting assignments using APA 6th edition style. Familiarize yourself with APA style using the online tutorials, templates, and summaries available through SFU library website and APA Style  (http://www.apastyle.org). 

Workshop/ Presentation  Students will work in small groups (2-4 students) to plan, prepare and facilitate an interactive workshop style presentation. Presentation topics will be chosen by the 3rd week of class. Presentations will be 60 minutes long, interactive, and supported by visuals and hand outs. Detailed guidelines will be provided in class.


Class and University Policies  

Assignment Due Dates.
  Due dates for assignments will be negotiated and set during the first two weeks of class. Assignments must be in by the deadline. Unless otherwise noted, assignments are due at the beginning of class (4:30) on the day specified. Late assignments will receive a deduction of 10% per day. Extensions are granted only under extenuating circumstances, such as documented illness, and must be negotiated with me (preferably before the due date).  

Academic Integrity. SFU’s policies for plagiarism, grade appeals, and all academic integrity issues apply in this class. For information please refer to the SFU Teaching Policies (http://www2.sfu.ca/policies/teaching/index.htm). In particular, pay attention to the policy on plagiarism. Plagiarism occurs when an individual attempts to pass off the work of another person as his or her own work. Plagiarism is a serious academic offence and consequences range from a reduced grade to expulsion from the university.   In order to avoid plagiarism cite all of the sources you use in your assignments (including class notes). Tutorials on avoiding plagiarism will be posted in the Writing Assignments module in the course Canvas space.
Class environment and participation. All members of the class contribute to creating a respectful, open and inclusive learning environment.  As instructor I hold responsibility for ensuring this is maintained both online and in person. Please consult with me about any issues that impact your participation in the course. Students are expected to conduct themselves as professional counsellors in training and follow policy on conduct as outlined in SFU calendar at all times.



Wedding, D.&  Corsini, R.J. & (2019). Current Psychotherapies (11th ed.). Belmont CA: Brooks Cole. Print or etext available. ISBN: 1-305-86575-
ISBN: 9781285083711

Journal articles will be assigned and available through the course online space.


Burston, D. & Frie, R. (2006). Psychotherapy as a Human Science. Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press.
ISBN: 978-0-8207-0378-7

American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association.(6th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
ISBN: 978-1-4338-0561-5

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/current/important_dates/guidelines.html. The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html