Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

POPLPRAC 707 - Theory and Skills in Counselling Practice

15 Points

Semester 2


The theory, research and practice regarding counselling and psycho-therapeutic approaches used in mental health and addiction service contexts. Approaches will be critically examined in terms of history, theory, social context and trends in research. Particular attention will focus on counselling methods currently in use within services.

Programme and course advice

This is a core course for the Postgraduate Certificate and Diploma in Health Sciences specialising in Alcohol and Drug Studies.

This course is suitable for health professionals working with clients with mental health and/or alcohol and drug issues and may also be of interest to students in the School of Education specialising in counselling.

Places are limited for this course and preference is given to those who are taking the course towards the PG Certificate in Health Sciences in specialisation Alcohol and Drug Studies.

Learning and teaching

The course is delivered at Tāmaki Campus in four one-day blocks. There is an emphasis on both theory and skill-development and students will produce DVD work (with an actor) and will receive formal and informal feedback.

Goals of the course

To give an overview of therapeutic approaches and to support the process of developing basic counselling skills for students working with mental health and addiction clients.

Learning outcomes 

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

  • Describe and explain a range of therapeutic models used in mental health and addiction contexts
  • Make well supported statements about the effectiveness of those models
  • Demonstrate good micro-counselling skills
  • Give rationale of therapeutic interventions used in practice
  • Have an emerging knowledge of Motivational Interviewing, motivational enhancement, cognitive behaviour therapies and working with families
  • Have a good understanding of cultural aspects in counselling
  • Be able to demonstrate basic counselling skills in a filmed session with an actor

Course outline

This course is designed to be taught in 4 one-day blocks from 9am– 4pm. The detail may change:

Day 1   Day 2  Day 3  Day 4 

Welcome / Introduction

Client centred practice skills

Motivational Interviewing

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

Student presentations

Filmed MI practice session with feedback

Behaviour change techniques

Relapse prevention

Motivational Enhancement Therapy

Filmed MI practice session with feedback

Family Inclusive Practice Workshop

Filmed MI assessment session

Exam preparation

Campus teaching dates

Please see your timetable on SSO or Building 730 Reception noticeboard on the day for the room details.


The assessments will consist of 60% course work and 40% Exam.

There are three pieces of course work that are formally evaluated. They are as follows:

1. Student presentation and feedback on an alternative therapeutic approach (10%)

2. Reflective practice Workbook (30%)

3. Filmed interview with an actor using Motivational Interviewing (20%)

The 2-hour exam is on theory of counselling practice and is valued at 40%.


Note that the examination timetables are not finalised and available to students until 6-8 weeks into the semester.


Learning resources

There are no prescribed texts for this course and readings will be assigned and provided via canvas.

Course Coordinator

Course Administrator