What is a Bachelor of Counselling?
Please be advised this course is now in teach-out. Please refer to the Bachelor of Counselling course page for the latest offering.
The Bachelor of Applied Social Science (Counselling) will equip you with the practical skills and knowledge required to work with different groups as a counsellor in a variety of areas, including community settings, counselling organisations and the health services sector. Upon completion, you can apply for membership for the Australian Counselling Association (ACA), the national bodies for counselling and psychotherapy .
- Apply specific counselling modalities and interventions to meet the needs of clients.
- Explain mental health and the impact of mental ill health on individuals and families.
- Respond to human diversity and establish working relationships with clients.
- Apply effective counselling interventions with people presenting with alcohol, drug abuse and addiction.
- Apply constructive methods to facilitate change.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of counselling.
- Refer clients to other health professionals as appropriate.
ACA recognised credentials
On graduation, you qualify for membership with the Australian Counselling Association.
This is an AQF Level 7 course delivered by Torrens University Australia Ltd.
As a graduate you’ll have a wealth of career opportunities available to you as a counsellor in a number of areas.
Potential career paths
Average salary: $83,000 - $111,000
Average salary: $60,000 - $66,000
Family and Marriage Counsellor
Average salary: $49,000 - $76,000
Average salary: $72,000 - $93,000
Subjects and units
Each subject involves 10 hours of study per week, comprising 3 hours of facilitated study and 7 hours self-directed study.
Interpersonal Communication | COU101AThis is a core unit in all the Applied Social Science courses. This subject explores aspects of counselling as a form of interpersonal communication and considers the role of self and culture, as well as important relational skills such as perception, listening and reflection. Students learn about different modes of interpersonal communication including verbal, nonverbal, written and oral, as well as the barriers to effective communication and approaches for overcoming them. The subject also examines how different types of relationships (family, work, personal, and social groups) can be enhanced through effective communication. An informed awareness of power and rank is discussed.
Theories of Counselling | COU102AIn this subject students are introduced to influential counselling theories, including Psychoanalytic and Psychodynamic theories, Person-centred Therapy, Existential Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Family Therapy, Feminist Therapy, Solution-Focused Therapy and Narrative Therapy. The subject utilises a range of experiential learning strategies including skills modelling and case studies, and introduces students to the counselling interventions used for each of these models. Such understanding is further developed in COU104A Applied Counselling 1, where students have the opportunity to observe and practise some of the therapeutic interventions used within these modalities.
Human Development Across the Lifespan (F2F & Online) | COU103AThis subject introduces students to the field of developmental psychology and explores what drives or motivates human behaviour throughout their life from birth to death.
Applied Counselling 1 | COU104AThis is a core unit in all the Applied Social Science courses. In this subject, students are introduced to the core skills for counselling and change work, with specific reference to working with adults. The subject provides students with an opportunity to develop their counselling skills in an interactive and supportive learning environment with feedback from others, and to begin considering their preferred counselling style. The interrelationships between counselling theories and models and skills are explored. This subject also focuses on the research into counselling outcomes and effective change processes.
Understanding Societies: An Introduction to Social Analysis | SOC102AThis is a core unit in all the Applied Social Science courses. In this subject, students are introduced to the interdisciplinary practice of social analysis and its role in understanding the various human elements and social institutions that constitute our communities and societies. It covers a variety of important social theories through which to understand human practices, identities and social structures. In particular, students learn how cultural, historical, economic and political factors shape the human experience. Students develop social analysis skills to critically examine how human and social elements shape our views about equality, justice and fairness. The subject encourages students to assess the relevance of these elements to our social and professional relations.
Developing Social Policy | SOC103AThis is a core unit in all the Applied Social Science courses. In this subject students examine the nature and practice of social policy development through a study of key public policy areas such as education, health, welfare, the family, crime and law and order policy, drug and alcohol policy and employment policy. The focus of policy discussions is primarily within the context of Australian social, economic and political systems. Students examine the theoretical underpinnings of policy development, the role of politics and lobby groups in influencing social policy, the policy process, and how policy decisions are monitored and evaluated. The role of associations, such as NCOSS and ACOSS, and churches in monitoring the impact of government policy and advocating for vulnerable groups within society are also examined, with a view to students considering ‘how else’ policies can be informed and used effectively to bring about change and improvement to social conditions.
Introduction to Community Services | WEL101AThis is a core unit for the Counselling and Community Services majors. This subject introduces students to the structure, purpose and nature of the Australian health care system and community services. It explores the many contexts, settings and roles within this area of work, including the policies, theories and practices applicable to this field. Students learn about the important role and function of occupations in community services, and the practices involved such as advocacy, lobbying, networking, and support and service coordination. Students develop an understanding of the variety of community sector organizations that operate in Australia, sources of funding provided by local, state and federal governments, and the challenges, barriers and opportunities for accessing and providing the relevant but scarce resources to those in need. Attention will also be given to community development and programs through examples such as public housing, Indigenous community development, community consultation and public fora.
Health and Well-Being | WEL102AThis is a core unit for the Counselling and Community Services majors. This subject provides the context for understanding health and well-being in Australia. It begins by exploring the critical perspectives associated with defining health and well-being, and what impacts these definitions have on various sections of the community, especially those considered most marginal. Health policies, perceptions and promotional activities are analysed as to their impact on health equity and access to services and resources for various sections of the population. The health of individuals, community and society is also discussed in terms of the workplace, the environment and the proximity to service centres such as cities and towns. Students learn about current debates and the impact of service-users, consumer advocates and worker responses. International policies and research will inform many of the discussions.
Mediation and Conflict Management | SOC201AThis is a core unit in all the Applied Social Science courses. As our number of relationships expands, so too does the potential for conflict. This subject looks at the nature of interpersonal conflict, and explores strategies for resolution such as mediation, conferencing and restorative justice. It begins by considering the nature of conflict, theories about its causes, and how conflict manifests in relationships, groups, communities and internationally. It then introduces students to key conflict management strategies and gives steps as to how we might reduce unhealthy forms of conflict and arrive at positive, healthy relationships based on empathy and understanding. The subject also considers anger management strategies in addressing entrenched, high conflict situations.
Ethics and Professional Practice | WEL202AThis is a core unit for the Counselling and Community Services majors. This subject introduces students to ethics from a variety of perspectives, including deontology and consequentialism, principlist and virtue ethics, narrative and communitarian ethics, and the ethics of self-care. Students learn how ethical and legal frameworks are applied to community services, and in the clinical, public health, and research contexts. They learn to reflect on what are legal or ethical dilemmas in health and community care provision, and practice the use of the conceptual and legal tools available to health and community services workers, as well as to the public, for making decisions in relation to health, community care and counselling. Topics include ethics theories, codes of ethics for professionalization, and ethics for research, public health, disability and vulnerable groups, internal reporting and whistleblowing, and the ethics of self-care. All practitioners must know how their work is regulated by legal frameworks; students thus learn about tort and negligence law, professional responsibility, duties, and misconduct, mandatory reporting, the protection of vulnerable groups, and privacy and confidentiality at work.
Relationship Counselling | COU201AIn this unit of study, students will gain an appreciation of the role of language and culture in the formation of identity through the study of social constructionism; the formative carer-infant relationship is studied in attachment theory; students are also introduced to the theories of influential figures in the field of relationship counselling including Schnarch, Gottman, Satir, Minuchin, Whitaker, Bowen, Haley, de Shazer, Bateson, The Milan Group, and White. Students will be familiarised with typical clinical issues, and theoretical learning will be complemented by students reflecting on their own experience as a person in a culture and in relationship.
Introduction to Social Research Methods | SOC202AThis subject gives students an overview of the methods used in social science research. It examines the models and techniques of social research across quantitative and qualitative methods, including surveys and sampling, questionnaires, focus groups, structured, semi-structured and unstructured interviews. It asks, what is the research basis of knowledge and how do we know what we know? It prepares students for understanding the nature of the research process, through direct application of basic interview technique, transcription and first level analysis. Students learn to reflect on their findings and the process involved for conducting social research through their experience of interviewing using techniques such as unstructured, semi-structured and structured interviews, and through a scholarly analysis of literature on research methods.
Applied Counselling 2 | COU203AThis is a core unit for the Counselling and Community Services majors. This subject builds on the knowledge and skills developed in Applied Counselling 1. It helps students develop a greater understanding of the various therapeutic approaches that draw on psychodynamic theories, person-centred therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, family therapy, feminist therapy, solution-focused therapy and narrative therapy. The subject also examines the influence of the counsellor on the counselling process, and counselling practice with children, adolescents and families, drawing on the developmental knowledge acquired in the subject Human Development Across the Lifespan. Students develop a greater understanding of the skills needed for various modalities and reflect on their own development as a therapist.
Mental Health and the Community | COU202AThis is a core unit for the Counselling and Community Services majors. This subject is designed for students to gain basic understanding of mental health. It includes definitions of mental health, mental health theories, risk factors and disorders. The impact of mental illness in the community, and particularly on individual people’s lives is explored along with approaches to health care, and the role of advocacy by community care workers and services. Myths and stigma surrounding mental health are critically examined, with special focus on how social and cultural perceptions shape both the experience of mental illness and service provision. The subject includes definitions and classification systems in mental health.
Fieldwork 1 | FLD201AThis is a core unit for the Counselling and Community Services majors. Students undertake placements comprising 200 hours in the community sector with the aim of building skills with a variety of client groups and presentations. The organizations can include community counselling agencies, government counselling or welfare centres, child/youth service or aged care facilities, neighbourhood centres, correctional facilities, or hospital pastoral care settings. They gain further practical experience in working with individuals and groups and are supported with supervision in a variety of formats such as weekly debriefing and case conferences. This provides the opportunity for students to learn from contact with other community services workers, critical incidents, ethical dilemmas, tensions, questions and insights. This subject uses an experiential learning process that is based on theory, and group participation with peers and supervisors. Students are required to attend two 3-hour workshops in weeks 1 and 5 to prepare them for their fieldwork. Students also receive a total of 5 hours supervision by the placement supervisor.
Applied Counselling 3 | COU204AThe focus of this subject is on advanced empathy and the facilitation of change, using skills modelling and practice sessions. Feedback is provided by facilitators and peers in a supportive environment. Some preparation is also provided for working with clients in need of crisis intervention, such as suicidal ideation, anxiety and depression, and goal setting. The concepts of transference and counter-transference, and of how they influence the counselling process, are essential components of this subject. Students also learn how to apply professional boundaries and self-care.
Working with Addicted Populations | COU301AThis is a core unit for the Counselling and Community Services majors. This subject provides an overview of the principles of substance‐related addictions and the processes and mechanisms that underlie addiction. Students are introduced to the developmental course of addiction, risk and protective influences, and the effects of addiction on health and well-being. The subject covers different forms of addictive behaviours that present in the community, including substance dependency (alcohol, tobacco, prescription and illicit drugs), problem gambling, and compulsive sexual and eating behaviour. A critical examination of the concept of addiction will consider why the use of some substances or behaviours is socially problematic and culturally contingent. The subject adopts a multi-disciplinary approach to examine the biological, psychological and social factors that are associated with addictive behaviours. Students learn to critically appraise and reflect on the shift from the disease model to approaches that draw on behavioural and social scientific theories.
Qualitative Research Methods | SOC301APublic health officials use qualitative research methods to probe the social aspects of public health such as people’s experience of health and public health interventions or their interaction with health systems. Qualitative methods may be used for explorative research, to illuminate the findings of quantitative research or for program evaluation purposes. Students in this course will be introduced to the theoretical basis for qualitative research, methodology and methods. This includes case studies, ethnographic approaches, observation, interviews, focus groups and participative action research. Methods to ensure rigour in qualitative research, such as triangulation will be considered. Steps such as coding, theming, and analysis of qualitative research will be explored. Students in this course will have the opportunity to conduct a project using qualitative methods.
Community Development | WEL301AThis subject introduces students to the theory, principles and skills of community development practice as a way of building capacity in community groups over the long term. The philosophical basis of community development as a method of social change and social action through building consensus, participation, advocacy and democracy are examined. Examples of innovative community development programs in public housing, Indigenous communities, disadvantaged areas and cultural communities are an important part of this subject, and guest lecturers from the field will provide practical examples of community development. In acknowledging the diversities and differences within communities, students consider the possibilities for collaboration, advocacy and strategic community planning in initiating action and change.
Field Work 2 for Counselling | FLD302AThis placement is of 140 hours duration. Placements are in the community sector or in an organisation where students will gain further practical experience in working with individuals and groups. The practical placement experiences will be supported with supervision in a variety of formats. This provides students with the opportunity to practice a range of activities such as case management, client services, program planning and development, individual and group assessment, advocacy and support work. Students are required to engage in community service work in these placements working alongside other professionals. Students are also required to attend two-3 hour workshops with a lecturer in weeks 1 and 5 to prepare students for the fieldwork. Note that 40 of the 140 placement hours must consist of face-to-face counselling contact. Students must also complete 10 hours of clinical supervision.
Counselling for Grief and Loss | COU302AThe effects of grief in terms of human suffering and the associated costs for providing support are critical issues that need to be addressed in community care and counsellor training. This subject teaches students the required skills for dealing with grief and loss associated with the experiences of ageing, trauma, bereavement and relationship breakdown. Many of these topics are relevant for a broad spectrum of the population but a substantial focus is on cumulative losses as people age. Students learn to work compassionately with people who suffer the psychological fall-outs and face existential questions following multiple losses such as declining physical and mental health, role function and social connectedness. Students learn to develop a holistic approach to grief counselling practice, whilst recognizing and respecting the uniqueness of each client's experience.
Evaluating Approaches to Counselling | COU303AThis is a core unit for the Community Services major. This subject examines human rights and governments’ responsibility to uphold them. Topics include: theories of power and oppression, the concept of empowerment, the human rights movement, the establishment and significance of institutions such as the United Nations and the World Health Organization, and their role in developing and implementing international agreements on the fundamental principles of human rights such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In addition, students examine the link between human rights and health and well-being, the protection of the rights of citizens, workers, and vulnerable groups.
Alcohol and Other Drugs | COU304AThis subject introduces students to theories and research in the area of substance abuse. It examines the continuum between drug use, abuse, dependence and addiction, and the physical dependence created by the use of prescription and recreational drugs. It also examines the role of family, community, residential and detox services. Students investigate and apply analytical skills for discussing the controversies and social stigma surrounding drug and alcohol use, and the contrasting ideologies underpinning harm minimization, risk and abstinence. Attention is given to programmes such as Alcoholics Anonymous, AI-Anon and Narcotics Anonymous that use the 12-step programme, step reduction programmes available on the web such as Smart Recovery, assessment methods such as the CAGE questionnaire. The subject also covers policy informing programmes, and the dominant models for drug and alcohol counselling, including motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
Narrative Therapy | COU306AIn this elective, students will become familiar with key narrative concepts and there will be some comparison with ideas found in other modalities. The central practices and skills associated with narrative therapy will be illustrated and, by drawing on students’ own stories, they will have vivid, first hand experiences of narrative from both a practitioner’s and client’s point of view.
Existential Psychotherapy | COU307AThe practice of existential counselling and psychotherapy is grounded in three thousand years of Western philosophy, involving itself with the everyday concerns of human existence and attempting to seek answers to what it means to be human. This subject will explore how existential philosophy is practised both as a specific psychotherapy modality as well as how the existential themes and questions can be integrated into any practice.
Focusing: Enhancing the Mind-Body Connection in Therapy | COU308AUsually we refer to our thoughts and feelings to guide us in life, yet there is a more profound knowing: our "felt-sense", the body's own wisdom. Focusing is a process that enables us to access this inner knowing. In this experiential workshop you can learn how to consistently tap into and trust your inner knowing. Your body never just holds your struggles, it also holds the way forward. Through Focusing you naturally arrive at your own healing and a lasting and deep change in your relationship with yourself. You can use the skill of Focusing to enhance your own life and to enhance the work that you do with clients. It is a method which can be integrated with and supports any modality of psychotherapy. The importance of body-sensing in healing was discovered by Dr Eugene Gendlin in collaboration with Carl Rogers at the University of Chicago in the 1960's.
Introduction to Gestalt Therapy | COU309AThe elective provides an introduction to the foundation principles and core concepts of Gestlat Therapy theory, methodology and contemporary practice. The electives are also designed to provide the students with an introduction to a creative approach to working sensitively and systematically within the professional relationship. The focus in this unit is on assisting students to understand and apply the Gestalt Therapy Approach to their personal and professional experience and the group process. Particular attention is given to the core concepts of: (1) awareness; (2) the personal narrative; (3) the cycle of experience; (4) organismic self regulation; (5) contact, contact styles and boundary functions; (6) dialogues and the personal conversation; (7) the paradoxical theory of change; and (8) experimentation and a unit of work.
Spirituality and Psychotherapy | COU310AThis program highlights our evolving understanding of that vital yet mysteriously elusive reality termed “human intimacy”. Special attention will be given to notions of romance, sexuality and spirituality. The course also seeks to highlight parallel dimensions and contrasts between personal and therapeutic relationships. The discussion seeks to foster an integrated path for understanding psychotherapeutic intimacy beyond the inadequacies of diagnosis, symptomology and pathology.
Case Management and Program Development | WEL302AThis is a core unit for the Community Services major. This subject examines the practice and skills required for case management and program development in the community services sector, by drawing on examples from a range of client groups such as the elderly, people living with disabilities and chronic illness, homeless people, ex-offenders, refugees and migrants with settlement issues. The subject includes an overview of the theory and practice of program planning, development and evaluation using case studies that address the complex and varied needs of clients groups. In addition, attention is also given to the role of carers and the unpaid support given by relatives, friends and neighbours, which often constitute informal management and support to people in need. Other topics include formative and summative methods of evaluation, insider/outsider debates about evaluation programs, and working with stakeholders to identify the needs and the programs required to address them, and how to evaluate the programs. Various methods of evaluation are examined, including interviews with key informants, client satisfaction surveys and focus groups, and students also learn how evaluation data are analysed and presented.
WEL303A Human Rights and Social Advocacy
Death and Dying | WEL304AIn this subject students learn about end of life matters including where death and dying take place. Central to this is understanding what is palliative care and what it involves, and the professional roles that operate in the field. Students learn about the practices of symptom control, pain assessment and management, as well as therapeutic communication skills for end of life. The subject explores cultural differences and diversity in attitudes toward death and dying, and culturally sensitive communication with patients and their significant others. Students also critically examine the availability of palliative care services in Australia as well as the medicalisation of death, dying and bereavement. Theories of grief and bereavement are examined, as well as the goals and principles underpinning palliative care philosophy and evidence based practices in the field. Finally an important aspect of this topic is the emotional impact of working in this area, the importance of practicing self-care and boundary management, team work participation and support.
Protection of Children | WEL305AWhile child welfare is about the care of children’s health and wellbeing, the term is now closely associated with child protection and statutory child protection agencies. The subject examines this concept and broadens the debate to include the mitigation of societal factors such as poverty, unemployment, family violence, culture and ethnicity, class and gender as part of the broader picture. The origins of the professional regulation of child welfare are examined, as well as the moral panic around child protection issues. Challenges and major issues for the care and protection of children are addressed, as well as the professional challenges in developing a ‘best practice’ approach. Other topics include the principle of child protection services, education and research into child protection, policy and the continued development of specific children and family services.
Industry partners and work placements
Work placement hours
As part of your course, you’ll have the chance to undertake 400 hours of work placement across two approved external organisations.
Check the domestic course fee schedule for the cost of your course.
Eligible Australian students may choose to defer some, or all, of their tuition fees through FEE-HELP, a loan scheme repaid through the tax system based on income.
ScholarshipsIf you are truly passionate about health, we want to hear from you. We have a variety of health scholarships on offer to assist you in becoming a key part of the health industry:
Before you begin your application to study as a domestic student, check that you meet the requirements listed below.
Vocational qualification (AQF Level 4), or above
Successful completion of a Higher Education qualification
Work and life experience that demonstrates skills and knowledge gained through paid or unpaid employment, formal learning and/or non-formal learning (presented on a current resume with attached cover letter).
Guaranteed pathway and Recognition of Prior LearningIf you have already completed a qualification you may be able to credit this against your degree with us, even if it’s from another institution. This is called Recognition of Prior Learning. We also offer pathway opportunities to further your learning.
How to apply
Read through the admissions criteria and ensure you meet the entry requirements.
It’s easy! Apply online below or contact us and we can help on 1300 575 803.
We’ll contact you shortly after to confirm your details and help you through the rest of the process.
Frequently asked questions
What are Torrens University Australia’s ATAR requirements for domestic students?
Torrens University Australia no longer considers ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) as our primary entry requirement. We have removed ATAR as the key admissions criteria for applicants aiming to study at Torrens University Australia. We strongly believed an alternative to the ATAR system should be found, which more broadly assesses students, especially when soft skills are emerging as important employability attributes. So, students with a recent secondary school education are now considered for admission if they have a Year 12 (Australian secondary school) certificate. Exceptions may apply to some courses.
What if I don’t meet the entry criteria for a degree?
Torrens University Australia has a range of application pathways to help you gain entry into our degrees based on different criteria.
To find out more, visit Study Pathways or contact our Future Student Advisors.
Am I eligible for FEE-HELP?
If you are a domestic student attending university or an approved higher education provider, you can get a FEE-HELP loan to pay all or part of your tuition fees.
You are eligible for FEE-HELP assistance for a unit of study (i.e. subject) if you:
- Undertake study with an approved provider.
- Meet the citizenship and residency requirements:
- An Australian citizen or a New Zealand Special Category Visa holder who meets the long-term residency criteria and who will undertake, in Australia, at least one unit of study contributing to your course; OR
- A permanent humanitarian visa holder who will be a resident in Australia for the duration of your unit; OR
- Are a permanent visa holder who is undertaking bridging study for overseas-trained professionals, and will be a resident in Australia for the duration of the study.
- Enrolled in an eligible unit of study by the census date for the unit.
- Have not exceeded the FEE-HELP limit.
For full details, visit the Australian Government website Study Assist.
If you are still unsure, please contact our Future Student Advisors who can talk you through the information.
Can I get course credit for previous experience?
Yes, course credit is available for most courses upon application and academic approval (excluding Higher Degree by Research programs).
If you have already completed a qualification or have relevant work experience, you may be eligible for credit towards your course. This credit can take the form of credit transfer, block credit or Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). Review our Course Credits page or chat to our Future Student Advisors.
What are Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and Credit Transfer (CT)? How do I apply?
Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is an assessment process that recognises experience, previous study and qualifications, and other forms of informal and non-formal learning, to determine if you meet course requirements.
If you have relevant qualifications or experience, you may be eligible for credit towards your course and a reduction in tuition costs.
Please speak to our Future Student Advisors to discuss your prior learning experiences.
For more information, please visit Course credits.
How do I apply for a scholarship?
Torrens University has a wide range of scholarship options to support new, returning, international and Australian students. They all include a reduction in tuition fees, and some scholarships include a mentoring component with our industry partners.
When you speak to our Future Student Advisors, let them know you wish to be considered for a scholarship in your application form. They will show you how to apply for a scholarship.
Please contact your Education Agent for further information. Alternatively, you can call us on 1300 575 803 or by email.
For more details, explore our range of scholarships.
Want to find out more?
Don't forget to download the course guide or get in touch with us below.