Fall 2023 - EDUC 323 D200

Introduction to Counselling Theories (3)

Class Number: 4788

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 6 – Dec 5, 2023: Wed, 2:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    60 units including EDUC 220.



Survey of theories undergirding counsellor and teacher interventions aimed at promoting emotional growth, development and personal change. Examination of theories and their sociological, cultural and philosophical contexts. Exploration of links between frequently used interventions and the implicit theories underlying these strategies.


This course provides an overview of theories that guide counselling and psychotherapy, engaging students in critical reflection on the implications of these theories for practice in contemporary sociocultural context. Foundational and current counselling theories aligned with Psychodynamic, Cognitive and Behavioural, Existential and Humanistic, Constructivist, Social Constructionist and Postmodern, Indigenous, Multicultural, Social Justice, Feminist and Queer/LGBT approaches are surveyed. Common Factors research and approaches to integration are introduced. The course examines the philosophical assumptions about human beings, human interactions, and human change processes that underpin counselling approaches. Theories will be critiqued from perspective of the sociocultural context of therapy practice, effectiveness and ethical practice in a diverse, pluralistic society, and theories’ alignments with values and goals of the Truth & Reconciliation process, decolonization, equity and human rights. Theories will be applied to examples of contemporary mental health concerns.


This course uses readings, class discussion and lecture,online, participatory and experiential learning strategies designed to meet course objectives. Namely, in this course students will build a broad and deep enough knowledge of counselling theories to begin the process of articulating a theory of counselling that is defensible and congruent with personal values. To accomplish this primary objective, students will:   

  • examine a range of counselling theories, including the sociocultural and historical context that influenced the theories' development, underlying assumptions and view of human beings, human change, framing of problems or dysfunction, and view of healthy functioning, therapeutic stance, key concepts and interventions
  • become familiar with the counselling process and elements of counselling interactions
  • critically examine counselling theories
  • evaluate evidence for the effectiveness and efficacy of counselling and psychotherapy 
  • understand principles guiding ethical practice
  • critically apply counselling theories to practice issues that arise in multicultural settings common in Canadian schools and communities
  • reflect on and clarify their own values and understandings of human beings, social worlds, and change, and situate these in the philosophical underpinnings of counselling theories
  • practice critical self-reflexivity about how students own social positionalities shape values, counselling approach, and counselling interactions 
  • review recommendations of Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People that are particularly relevant to Canadian schools and mental health professions


  • Participation in Class 10%
  • Contribution to online learning space (Canvas) 10%
  • Quizzes 20%
  • Theory Application Portfolio (Group & Individual components) 40%
  • Final Paper 20%


The course helps prepare students who are considering advanced study in counselling psychology.  It is not sufficient preparation for professional practice as a counsellor or psychotherapist.

There is no final exam in this course.


In person participation is a critical component of this course. 100% attendance for in person classes is an expectation. Students are expected to organize work and extra curricular activities in a manner that enables them to participate fully in class.



In addition to the reading materials below, links to readings will be posted on the course Canvas site. Students will need access to a computer to access Canvas, conduct library research, view online videos, and write papers.


Jones-Smith, E. (2021) Theories of Counseling: An integrative approach. (3nd Ed.) Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

eText (ISBN: 9781544384580) also acceptable.
ISBN: 9781544384559


American Psychological Association. (2010). Concise Rules of APA Style. Paperback or Ebook versions available.
ISBN: 9781433805608


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/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


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.