Course Outline

COU781 Pluralistic Couple and Family Counselling

Course Coordinator:Emanuele Latino ( School:School of Law and Society

2023Semester 2

UniSC Sunshine Coast

Blended learning Most of your course is on campus but you may be able to do some components of this course online.

Please go to for up to date information on the
teaching sessions and campuses where this course is usually offered.

What is this course about?


This course develops your practice of advanced counselling skills enabling you to apply a cutting-edge approach to your work supporting couples and families. This course includes the extended understanding of recent developments in counselling and its professional practice. You will develop advanced skills for working within family systems and relationship issues. A key element of the course will be the development of an appreciation and understanding of therapeutic integration, and your own personal counselling style.

How will this course be delivered?

Activity Hours Beginning Week Frequency
Blended learning
Tutorial/Workshop 1 – On campus workshop - 3 hours 3hrs Week 1 13 times

Course Topics

Course Topics

Course and Assessment Overview. The creative counsellor. The composite model of counsellor competence. Becoming a ‘master’ therapist.

Psychodynamic approaches - origins, evolution and research findings. Freud and Jung; conscious vs. unconscious - contemporary discussions; defence mechanisms; theories of personality; therapeutic strategies.

The Implications of Attachment Theory for counsellors and couples’ therapy. Approaches that use attachment theory; recognising “internal working models”; attachment patterns.

Emotion-focused Therapy – with individuals and couples.  Emotion schemes; layers of emotion; empathic attunement; experiential processing; the 2-chair process.

Systemic Thinking, Family & Couple Therapy – 1 

Supporting Families. Schools of Family Therapy; Family system boundaries; structuring sessions.

Systemic Thinking, Family & Couple Therapy – 2  

Supporting Families and Couples. Types of families; multi-generational family therapy (Bowen); Family resilience; Couples Therapy.

Systemic Thinking, Family & Couple Therapy – 3 

Supporting Families. Genograms; Role-play practice; life cycle perspective.

A Post-Modern Approach: Narrative Therapy in supporting couples. Use of language; dealing with dominant stories; use of metaphors; externalising problems.

Art-making approaches with families and couples. Rationale for creative activities; projective techniques; symbol work; visual art.

Integrative Approaches in Counselling. Client preferences and collaboration; eclectic practice; use of cultural resources.

What level is this course?

700 Level (Specialised)

Demonstrating a specialised body of knowledge and set of skills for professional practice or further learning. Advanced application of knowledge and skills in unfamiliar contexts.

What is the unit value of this course?

12 units

How does this course contribute to my learning?

Course Learning Outcomes On successful completion of this course, you should be able to... Graduate Qualities Completing these tasks successfully will contribute to you becoming...
1 Develop and apply deep knowledge of theoretical underpinnings of counselling through meta-cognition and self- reasoning. Knowledgeable
2 Demonstrate an ability to engage with family systems and sociocultural systems within the context of counselling in an ethical and professional manner. Ethical
3 Demonstrate expertise in the knowledge and skills of therapeutic integration. Knowledgeable
4 Identify and develop decision making pathways in counselling that maintain sustainable outcomes for clients and families. Sustainability-focussed
5 Articulate and demonstrate your personal approach to counselling and psychotherapy. Knowledgeable
Creative and critical thinker

Am I eligible to enrol in this course?

Refer to the UniSC Glossary of terms for definitions of “pre-requisites, co-requisites and anti-requisites”.


COU701 and enrolled in Program AR708


Not applicable


Not applicable

Specific assumed prior knowledge and skills (where applicable)

Not applicable

How am I going to be assessed?

Grading Scale

Standard Grading (GRD)

High Distinction (HD), Distinction (DN), Credit (CR), Pass (PS), Fail (FL).

Details of early feedback on progress

Timely and detailed feedback is provided for each assessment. Early feedback available in class through Task 1. Feedback is provided both within text and general comments to build scholarly skills. Students are able to seek feedback through face-to-face discussion with the course coordinator. Workshops will include extended discussion and review of the assessment task requirements

Assessment tasks

Delivery mode Task No. Assessment Product Individual or Group Weighting % What is the duration / length? When should I submit? Where should I submit it?
All 1 Oral Group 0%
A five-minute oral presentation in class in week 4.
Week 4 In Class
All 2 Essay Individual 30%
1,750 words
Week 5 Online Assignment Submission with plagiarism check
All 3 Oral Individual 35%
20-30 Minutes
Week 10 Online Submission
All 4 Essay Individual 35%
1750 words
Week 12 Online Submission
All - Assessment Task 1:In class, oral presentation on micro skills and counselling couples and families
To demonstrate, through a 5 minute talk, that skills from weeks 1 to 3 have been integrated and understood, and receive Course Coordinator and class feedback.
Product: Oral
This is a group task. Working in trios, prepare a 5-minute oral presentation that identifies how foundation counselling skills or 'micro skills' could be applied to counselling with small groups (i.e. families or couples). Choose 3 - 4 of the most valuable skills to focus on, and provide a rationale for this choice.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Demonstrate awareness of key foundational counselling skills, and how these are utilised within the small group context;
All - Assessment Task 2:Applying Theory to Family & Couple Counselling
To reflect on workshop content in weeks 1 to 5, and apply the various theories to the practice of Couple & Family Counselling.
Product: Essay
A written essay that compares and contrasts two theories from weeks one to five of the course, and describes the implications of these theories for practical implementation during group counselling sessions.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
​You will be assessed on: 
The quality, content, and theoretical underpinnings applied to practice
1 4 5
Demonstration of analytical and complex thinking that is translated to practice methods
1 3 5
Ability to conceive an integrative approach that is informed by basic counselling (micro) skills, systems thinking, psychodynamic principles, and the implications of attachment theory.
1 3 5
Ability to cite evidence to support the proposed plans for counselling practice
1 2 4
All - Assessment Task 3:Family or Couples Counselling Recorded Demonstration
Present a video recording of a counselling session demonstrating your use of family or relationship counselling skills.
Product: Oral
Working with two student colleagues from COU781 you will complete a 20 to 30 minute video session demonstrating your use of family or couple counselling skills within the context of family systems. The video will demonstrate how you are integrating your personal style of counselling. Full details of the requirement will be posted on Canvas.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Clear video recording demonstrating use of advanced skills and techniques;
1 2
Demonstration of client engagement.
1 2 3
Evidence of exploring the clients’ relationship to their “system”;
2 4 5
All - Assessment Task 4:Self-critique of Recorded Demonstration
Demonstrate your ability to critically reflect on your skills in conducting a family or couple's session
Product: Essay
A written self-assessment and reflective critique of your session.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Ability to critique your use of advanced family or couple skills and techniques;
1 4
Comment on your engagement and efforts at alliance formation with clients
1 3
Self-assessment reflection using supplied reflection questions
1 3
Overall critique of your competence and skills and recognition of what needs to be developed further.
1 3

Directed study hours

A 12-unit course will have total of 150 learning hours which will include directed study hours (including online if required), self-directed learning and completion of assessable tasks. Student workload is calculated at 12.5 learning hours per one unit.

What resources do I need to undertake this course?

Please note: Course information, including specific information of recommended readings, learning activities, resources, weekly readings, etc. are available on the course Canvas site– Please log in as soon as possible.

Prescribed text(s) or course reader

There are no required/recommended resources for this course.

Specific requirements


How are risks managed in this course?

Health and safety risks for this course have been assessed as low. It is your responsibility to review course material, search online, discuss with lecturers and peers and understand the health and safety risks associated with your specific course of study and to familiarise yourself with the University’s general health and safety principles by reviewing the online induction training for students, and following the instructions of the University staff.

What administrative information is relevant to this course?

Assessment: Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the ethical standard of university participation.  It ensures that students graduate as a result of proving they are competent in their discipline.  This is integral in maintaining the value of academic qualifications. Each industry has expectations and standards of the skills and knowledge within that discipline and these are reflected in assessment.

Academic integrity means that you do not engage in any activity that is considered to be academic fraud; including plagiarism, collusion or outsourcing any part of any assessment item to any other person.  You are expected to be honest and ethical by completing all work yourself and indicating in your work which ideas and information were developed by you and which were taken from others. You cannot provide your assessment work to others. You are also expected to provide evidence of wide and critical reading, usually by using appropriate academic references.

In order to minimise incidents of academic fraud, this course may require that some of its assessment tasks, when submitted to Canvas, are electronically checked through Turnitin.  This software allows for text comparisons to be made between your submitted assessment item and all other work to which Turnitin has access.

Assessment: Additional Requirements

Your eligibility for supplementary assessment in a course is dependent of the following conditions applying:

The final mark is in the percentage range 47% to 49.4%
The course is graded using the Standard Grading scale
You have not failed an assessment task in the course due to academic misconduct

Assessment: Submission penalties

Late submission of assessment tasks may be penalised at the following maximum rate: 
- 5% (of the assessment task's identified value) per day for the first two days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. 
- 10% (of the assessment task's identified value) for the third day - 20% (of the assessment task's identified value) for the fourth day and subsequent days up to and including seven days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. 
- A result of zero is awarded for an assessment task submitted after seven days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. Weekdays and weekends are included in the calculation of days late. To request an extension you must contact your course coordinator to negotiate an outcome.


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The SafeUSC Specialist Service is a Student Wellbeing service that provides free and confidential support to students who may have experienced or observed behaviour that could cause fear, offence or trauma. To contact the service call 07 5430 1226 or email

Study help

For help with course-specific advice, for example what information to include in your assessment, you should first contact your tutor, then your course coordinator, if needed.

If you require additional assistance, the Learning Advisers are trained professionals who are ready to help you develop a wide range of academic skills. Visit the Learning Advisers web page for more information, or contact Student Central for further assistance: +61 7 5430 2890 or

Wellbeing Services

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To book a confidential appointment go to Student Hub, email or call 07 5430 1226.

AccessAbility Services

Ability Advisers ensure equal access to all aspects of university life. If your studies are affected by a disability, learning disorder mental health issue, injury or illness, or you are a primary carer for someone with a disability or who is considered frail and aged, AccessAbility Services can provide access to appropriate reasonable adjustments and practical advice about the support and facilities available to you throughout the University.

To book a confidential appointment go to Student Hub, email or call 07 5430 2890.

Links to relevant University policy and procedures

For more information on Academic Learning & Teaching categories including:

  • Assessment: Courses and Coursework Programs
  • Review of Assessment and Final Grades
  • Supplementary Assessment
  • Administration of Central Examinations
  • Deferred Examinations
  • Student Academic Misconduct
  • Students with a Disability

For more information, visit

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General Enquiries

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