Professional Counsellor

Gain requisite counselling skills to help clients engage in self-care and nurture healthy interpersonal relationships

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Professional counsellors assist people in working towards living a resourceful, successful and self-fulfilling life. This professional counselling therapist diploma program is designed to provide graduates with the requisite counselling theory and skills to assist people in addressing and solving real-life problems, coping with life crisis’s, addressing inner conflict, developing personal insights, engaging in self-care, and nurturing healthy interpersonal relationships, all in the context of working as part of and within an interdisciplinary healthcare service.

Program graduates will be able to work in Employee & Family Assistance Programs, private practice, health and wellness clinics, educational institutions, treatment centres, government and not-for-profits organizations, and human resource departments.

Learning Objectives

Upon successful completion of the program, graduates will be able to:

  • Provide safe, ethical, and sociocultural sensitive care according to the guidelines as set by the Association of Cooperative Counselling Therapists of Canada, Canadian Professional Counsellors Association, and the Federation of Associations for Counselling Therapists of British Columbia.
  • Practice in a reflective, responsible, accountable, and professional manner as required by legislation, defined scope and standards of practice, and the Code of Ethics as described in the Health Professions Act.
  • Demonstrate comprehensive and competent knowledge of counselling theories and practice.
  • Assist and apply in counselling practices that promote the physical, psychological, social, cognitive, and spiritual well being of clients.
  • Work collaboratively as part of a healthcare team to provide quality counselling care for clients.
  • Perform according to the Practice Standards and Code of Ethics for Counsellors of BC.
  • Engage in Evidence-Based Practice.
  • Abide by the ethical principles of the counselling profession and participate in the ethical decision-making process.
  • Comply with the legal requirements of the counselling role.
  • Demonstrate theoretical models to counselling practice that recognizes and respects the uniqueness of each individual client.
  • Recognize the benefits, limitations and contraindications of differing theoretic frameworks.
  • Develop an informed theoretical framework by reflecting on your own worldview and values as you begin to understand the various counselling interventions and processes for facilitating change.
  • Use an approach to provide care that promotes the physical, psychological, social, cognitive and spiritual well being of clients.
  • Demonstrates awareness of the social, political, economic or cultural factors that impact human development and functioning.
  • Demonstrates awareness of culturally appropriate responsibilities as a counsellor and expresses a commitment to understanding clients as complex, multidimensional and cultural beings.
  • Displays knowledge of abnormal psychology and the continuum of normal and abnormal behaviour.
  • Identifies the factors affecting mental health and illness and applies methods for recovery and treatment.
  • Demonstrate effective, caring interpersonal and therapeutic communication techniques with clients, colleagues and others.
  • Interact with other members of the healthcare team in ways that contribute to effective working relationships and the achievement of goals.
  • Collaborate and cooperate with other service providers in the best interest of clients.
  • Accept feedback with grace and appreciation.
  • Model behaviours that promote inclusion.
  • Recognize and respond to own self-assessment, self-development, learning and health enhancement needs.
  • Apply self-reflective and self-appraisal processes in order to increase own effectiveness in practice
  • Utilize feedback to develop learning goals.
  • Enhance counselling performance through self-evaluation strategies such as videotape analysis, readings and peer feedback.
  • Perform in a reflective, responsible, accountable and professional manner.
  • Prepare and maintain client records and reports accurately.
  • Seek consultation or supervision, and reviews research when unusual, difficult to resolve or complex situations arise.
  • Demonstrate effective strategies and techniques in client orientation, assessment, intervention, evaluation and closure.
  • Become familiar with and utilize various diagnostic and assessment tools as appropriate.
  • Provide care and assistance in ways that maintain safety for self and others in a variety of contexts.

Diploma Program

Total Program Hours:
1500 Hours
Full-Time Program Length:
73 Weeks
(Includes holidays and professional days)
Program content is subject to change.

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Career Opportunities

Addictions Counsellor
Bereavement Counsellor
Child and Youth Counsellor
Family Counsellor
Marriage Counsellor
Admission Requirements
  • Grade 12 or equivalent (General Education Development, Adult Basic Education) or mature student status (age 19 and one year out of school). All transcripts must be “true certified copies” or originals
  • Applicants must successfully complete the admissions interview
  • Successful completion of a short-written essay.
  • English 12, or equivalent, with a minimum grade of C (60%).
  • Applicants with English as a Second/Additional Language will also need to achieve the following minimum IELTS Academic scores or that of an equivalent test:
    • Listening: 6.5
    • Speaking: 6.5
    • Reading: 6.5
    • Writing: 6.5
    • Overall: 6.5
  • Submit a criminal record check from the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, including clearance to work with vulnerable adults (Schedule B).
  • Obtain a satisfactory certificate of health from a physician with a Physician’s Waiver.
  • Provide evidence of clear TB testing prior to acceptance (must be done no more than three months before the start of the program).
  • Note: Evidence of up-to-date immunizations may be required (Pertussis, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Polio, Measles/Mumps/Rubella, Chicken Pox, Hepatitis B, Influenza).
Diploma Requirements
  • 70% average upon successful completion of all courses, including courses given a complete.
* Professional Counsellor was reviewed and approved by the registrar of the Private Training Institutions Branch (PTIB) of the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills & Training.

Students can expect to complete one to three hours of homework per day.

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Our advisors are happy to answer any questions.

Courses List

This 73 week Diploma program requires the student to complete the following courses.

Strategies for Student Success: This course will provide students with the knowledge, skills, tools, techniques, and strategies to help them to be confident learners.

Counselling as a Profession: Governance: This course introduces students to the role of the Professional Counsellor. Legislation and regulation that inform and guide counselling practice in British Columbia will be examined. The history and philosophy of counselling as a helping profession, scope of practice, and the underlying principles and conceptual underpinnings of the profession, and this program, will be thoroughly explored. Students will be introduced to the role of the practitioner, the roles of interdisciplinary mental healthcare teams, the scope of services delivered, and the organizational and functional structures employed by public and private providers. Students will become familiar with the purpose, principles and methodology of reflective practice.

Introduction to Psychopathology: This course will introduce students to the social, political, economic, and/or cultural factors that impact human development and functioning. Students will be introduced to the study of mental disorders including efforts to understand their genetic, biological, psychological and social causes, the evidence base for existing theoretical constructs, categorizations and diagnoses, and to understanding psychiatric illnesses and treatment across the stages of development. Students will become aware of their culturally appropriate responsibilities as a counsellor and will be able to articulate their commitment to understanding clients as complex, multidimensional, social, sexual, and cultural beings.

Interpersonal and Counselling Communication Skills: This course focuses on the development of self-awareness, increasing one's understanding of others, and the development of effective coaching communication skills used in the counselling profession. Students will be encouraged to become more aware of the impact of their communication style, choices, and patterns on others and on facilitating their practice. Students will be provided with opportunities to apply theory to practice by developing and practicing communication techniques through scenario-based learning. Students will also explore the role and function of effective interdisciplinary communication between the various health disciplines and services.

Counselling Techniques and Interventions I: Through case-based scenarios, students will be introduced to a variety of fundamental counselling strategies, tools and practices. Topics to be addressed will include orientation, assessment, and closure. Students will be required to participate in supervised counselling simulation labs where they will be able to practice their counselling skills. Students will be required to create personal learning goals, participate in role-play activities and demonstrate appropriate progress toward proficiency in counselling techniques.

Assessment in Counselling: This course will provide fundamental information that can be used to evaluate many types of formal and informal assessment techniques. Content will focus on the underlying measurement principles of any type of psychological assessment. Students will be introduced to the psychometric qualities of assessment instruments, basic statistics, the role of reliability and validity, measurement concepts, and measuring and scoring fundamentals. Students will learn how to evaluate instruments, decide if and how an assessment technique should be used and how to determine and interpret assessment results. Finally, students will explore the importance and the influence of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and issues of diversity on competent assessment.

Assessment in Counselling: This course will provide fundamental information that can be used to evaluate many types of formal and informal assessment techniques. Content will focus on the underlying measurement principles of any type of psychological assessment. Students will be introduced to the psychometric qualities of assessment instruments, basic statistics, the role of reliability and validity, measurement concepts, and measuring and scoring fundamentals. Students will learn how to evaluate instruments, decide if and how an assessment technique should be used and how to determine and interpret assessment results. Finally, students will explore the importance and the influence of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and issues of diversity on competent assessment.

Psychopathology: Mental Health and Illness: Building on acquired knowledge this course will help students broaden and deepen their understanding of mental illness and mental health by exploring the complex interactions between body, mind and the environment. Students will critically review current classification systems and symptomatology of severe and chronic forms of psychiatric disorder, their etiology and nature, their diagnosis, and outcome challenges.

Individual Counselling: Individual counselling is a process through which individuals work one-on-one with a counsellor depending upon the psychological problem(s) being experienced, the personal beliefs and practices of the counsellor, and the needs of the individual. Individual counselling theories are varied therefore this course will examine the major theoretical perspectives and the fundamental counselling processes that underlie individual therapeutic interventions. Students will also learn how to address the need to be sensitive to issues of age, cultural and social diversity and the need to adapt interventions accordingly.

Counselling Techniques and Interventions II: Building on previously acquired knowledge students will engage in case-based role-play where they will learn intermediate clinical assessment, crisis intervention, and conflict resolution techniques and strategies. Students will be required to participate in supervised counselling simulation labs where they will practice, refine, and advance their counselling skills. Assessment will be inclusive and active with students being required to demonstrate increasing levels of counselling competency proficiency.

Counsellors Role in Psychopharmacology: Psychopharmacology is the study of mechanisms underlying the effects of drugs on behaviour. This course will introduce students to the principles of pharmacology: drug absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion and the role of pharmacology in treating psychological disorders. Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics will be covered, including interactions, side effects and adverse interactions. Prescription drugs prescribed for psychological treatment will be identified and basic drug classifications will be reviewed. The nature and causes of drug abuse addiction and accepted treatment methodologies will be explored. The role and relationships between counsellor, client, and prescribing professional will be explained.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: This course is an introduction to cognitive behavioural theory and therapy. Students will explore the theoretical foundations and the implementation of evidence-based interventions into human emotional, cognitive, and behavioural functioning and examine how cognitive behavioural therapy is applied to a range of psychopathological conditions across the life span.

Applied Research in Counselling: This course will provide students with an introduction to applied counselling research. It will provide students with the skills to conduct literature searches and reviews using a variety of sources. Students will learn how to identify the strengths and limitations associated with a variety of commonly applied research methodologies and describe, interpret, and discuss results and outcomes. Students will be required to present and discuss research findings based on a research question provided.

Counselling as a Profession: Business Management: Effective and efficient administrative procedures are essential to the success of any business. In this course, students will be introduced to the fundamental principles and workflow of a professionally organized and managed counselling practice. The focus will be on regulatory and licensing requirements, brand building, marketing, clientele sourcing, patient management, the organization and management of patient records, appointment scheduling, claims, financial procedures, and the utilization of patient management software.

Group Counselling: Building on knowledge acquired students will explore a range of theoretical and experiential approaches, and therapeutic interventions to group counselling. Students will focus on developing effective core facilitation strategies and skills by achieving greater self-awareness through a process of introspection and reflection. Group process, group dynamics and evolution, interpersonal relationships, leadership styles, and group development will be studied by examining group members’ roles and needs. Students will learn how to apply group counselling theories in practice and how to develop personal group leadership skills. Ethical and legal issues related to group counselling will also be discussed.

Child and Youth Counselling: Drawing on knowledge acquired this course will prepare students to address the counselling needs of children and adolescents. Students will study common emotional issues that children and adolescents experience, the theories, techniques, strategies and therapeutic interventions for working with children and adolescents and their families, and the counselling issues related to these populations. Ethical standards and legal requirements related to counselling children and adolescents will be discussed.

Loss and Grief Counselling: The goal of this course is to provide students with an understanding of the process of grieving across the lifespan, the goals of grief counselling, and the application of therapeutic interventions using empirical research and evidence-based practice. Students will explore the grieving experience and coping mechanisms used to deal with grief and loss and examine theoretical frameworks for understanding the impact of loss and why for some individuals it can become problematic

Trauma and Crisis Counselling: This course will provide students with a fundamental theoretical and applied foundation for working with people who are experiencing trauma and crisis-related stress. Students will explore trauma and crisis intervention and counselling techniques and practical skills for counselling, crisis assessment, management, and short-term intervention taking into consideration social, cultural, ethical, and legal considerations.

Concurrent Disorders: When an individual has a concurrent disorder they face unique and difficult challenges because they suffer from both mental health and addiction disorders. The interrelationships between mental, emotional, behavioural and chemical dependency will be explored in this course. Students will explore the skills and knowledge required to understand the causes and identify, assess, and assist in the treatment of individuals with concurrent disorders. Students will study the impact concurrent disorders have on individuals and families and how to apply evidence-based practices in providing support while taking into account culture, diversity, gender, sexual orientation, and the role of support persons, systems, and community available resources.

Addictions Counselling: This course provides students with a comprehensive introduction to the etiology of addiction, addictive substances and behaviours, how genetics and the environment contribute to the development of addictive behaviours, the role of psychoactive drugs, the impact of concurrent disorders, and the physiological/psychological effects on the human body and brain. Students will understand how healthy brain functions and will explore the functioning of a brain damaged by addictive behaviour. Students will examine contemporary theories of addiction and addiction counselling strategies and evidence-based practical applications of theory to assessment, prevention, intervention, recovery, wellness, and relapse strategies, as they apply to individuals, couples, families, and communities.

Counselling Techniques and Interventions III: Building on previously acquired knowledge students will engage in case-based role-play where they will learn and practice comprehensive clinical assessment, intervention, and treatment strategies. Students will be required to participate in supervised counselling simulation labs where they will practice and refine their counselling skills. Assessment will be inclusive and active with students being required to demonstrate counselling competency proficiency.

DSM-5 and ICD-10: Students will gain a basic understanding of the organizing framework, categories, and classifications described in the manual of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and how this tool is applied in the assessment, interpretation and diagnosis of mental disorders. The manuals strengths and weaknesses will be discussed. Students will also be introduced to the International Classification of Diseases (version 10) a system used by healthcare providers to classify and code all diagnoses, symptoms, and procedures.

Non-Violent Crisis Intervention: This course is designed to provide students with the skills to recognize precipitating factors and address anxious, hostile or violent behaviour by applying verbal, non-verbal and physical intervention techniques to either prevent or de-escalate disruptive behaviour.

Reflective Practice & Self-care: This course provides students with the knowledge and skills on how to develop personal resiliency and implement strategies that promote healthy personal care in the context of physical, emotional, cognitive, and professional health.

Practicum: This 4-week supervised practice experience provides students with an opportunity to apply acquired theory and skills to practice. Students will use this opportunity as a stepping stone towards independent practice working alongside their practicum instructor caring clients presenting with a wide range of conditions. According to the practicum needs, students may assist with supporting clients coping with crisis, with developmental issues, addressing and resolving specific problems, ethical decision making, developing personal insights and knowledge, working through feelings of inner conflict or improving relationships with others.

CPCA Exam Preparation: This course will provide students with the tools, practice exercises and exams to help them prepare to write the Canadian Professional Counsellors Association Qualifying Examination, and upon successful completion position themselves to apply for registered membership. This course will provide students with the opportunity to review and reacquaint themselves with the requisite program learning outcomes as described in the CPCA’s core competency profile and the learning outcomes listed in each course outline. Practice exam questions will address the core competencies and the style of questions students can expect to encounter when they write the qualifying exam.

Career and Professional Development: This course will assist students in preparing to enter the world of work by furthering their practical knowledge of industry. Students will learn how to conduct effective job searches and presents themselves professionally through traditional and digital media vehicles.

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