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Course Outline

The Vocational Graduate Certificate in Counselling allows you to acquire a coherent, systemic knowledge of a dedicated field to engage in highly specialised counselling.  You will be able to initiate, plan and implement appropriate interventions and demonstrate personal accountability and responsibility.


The Vocational Graduate Certificate in Counselling consists of five units. Two units are core units and three units are Specialty Units from your chosen Stream.


The Vocational Graduate Diploma of Counselling provides you with a more advanced understanding of a dedicated field to demonstrate an expert command of a highly specialised counselling field.  You will be able to initiate, plan and implement major interventions and engage in supervisory, leadership and/or management capacities in human services work.


If you continue into the Vocational Graduate Diploma from the Vocational Graduate Certificate, you only need to complete 3 units in addition to your Vocational Graduate Certificate units. These units consist of one extra core unit and two units for the Specialty Stream completed during your Vocational Graduate Certificate.  There is also one more practical component to be completed.


The Vocational Graduate Diploma of Counselling consists of 8 units. There are 3 core units and 5 units from your chosen Specialty Stream. 


The first two core units are the same as those completed for the Vocational Graduate Certificate.


Core Unit 1


The first core unit (VGD1A) covers managing and facilitating collaborative counselling practice at an advanced level. This unit equips you to work effectively in a multi-disciplinary team or work environment.  The processes of coordinating service delivery are analysed, and aspects of case management are examined including the formulation of a collaborative case plan and the evaluation of service delivery.  A range of applications across workplace settings are covered including hospitals, community agencies, aged care facilities, schools, government departments and private enterprise.


Core Unit 2


The second core unit (VGD2A) focuses on analysing and implementing ethical decision making in counselling practice and guides you in identifying complex dilemmas in practice, the issues involved and where to refer to make an informed decision about the best course of action.  You learn how to evaluate chosen solutions to complex ethical dilemmas in line with principles of reflective practice.


After completing the two core units, you progress onto the three units of your chosen Specialty Stream. 



The Addictions Specialty Stream begins by analysing theories of substance use, misuse and addictions beyond the basic psychological principles of addiction to an understanding of the interplay between social, biological, psychological, contextual and environmental factors in the aetiology and maintenance of addictions. 


The Stream continues onto learning a wide ranging knowledge of drug classification including pharmacological categories to obtain an advanced knowledge of the effects and observable symptoms for depressants, narcotics, stimulants and hallucinogens. You then learn how to utilise this knowledge to help prepare clients for detoxification and withdrawal.


The third unit prepares you to use appropriate assessment, treatment planning and referral strategies in counselling practice.  You’ll lead the development of a comprehensive multidimensional assessment, design and execute an appropriate and valid treatment plan, and monitor and coordinate referrals.  Working with coerced or mandated clients is also covered.


The Family Therapy Specialty Stream begins with applying theoretical concepts in family therapy such as analysing patterns of family communication, recognising and addressing cases of triangulation, and applying transactional analysis to explain family communication.  Contributions of leading family therapy theorists are evaluated, and family structure and multigenerational patterns are examined and explained.


The Stream progress onto developing and applying narrative intervention initiatives in family therapy including an analysis of principles of Postmodernism, evaluation of dominant social and cultural narratives on individuals and families, and integrating narrative interventions into family therapy processes.


The third unit concentrates on employing systemic practice techniques in Family Therapy.  You facilitate a variety of family interventions based on the works of Bowen and Minuchin.  Skills include family assessment interviews, genograms, family patterns and communication transactions, relationship boundary marking and modification using a culturally-sensitive framework.


The Grief and Loss Specialty Stream begins with evaluating theoretical and conceptual methods in loss and grief practice including theories of bereavement, phases of grief, responses to grief, adjustment and transition processes, coping strategies, adaptive and complicated grief, and support options.


The Stream continues with applying therapeutic clinical approaches to loss and grief.  The integration of the goals of loss and grief therapy into a plan for effective intervention, managing the expression of intense emotion, and assessing and responding to patterns of complicated or dissonant grieving are covered.  This unit also includes developing an awareness of your personal experiences of loss and grief and how to effectively manage this when counselling others.


The third unit covers facilitating group support in loss and griefand includes the initiation, development and design of a program for loss and grief support, planning group membership through appropriate assessment and selection procedures, and coordinating, facilitating, reviewing and amending a group support program.

Each Specialty Stream is supported by a practical component which can be completed by attending a two-day seminar; a private assessment; or submitting a video/DVD of your practical skills demonstration.


Additional Core Unit

The additional core unit (VGD6A) integrates reflective practice strategies into counselling. You develop advanced skills in self-management and monitoring to deliver counselling that is mindful and intentional.  You examine your personal values, beliefs and biases in detail and their impact on the role of counsellor.  Feedback, revision, evaluation, self care, professional development and supervision are explored during the unit.

The first three units of each Specialty Stream are the same as those required for the respective stream in the Vocational Graduate Certificate in Counselling. 



The Addictions Specialty Stream continues with a unit covering conducting advanced behaviour change interventions and motivational interviewing to explore ambivalence and assess client readiness to change.  Stages of change are applied to case studies and strategies to encourage and enhance motivation are applied across all stages of the change model.


The final unit in the Stream concentrates on applying harm reduction, crisis intervention and risk management strategies as a framework for responding to crisis and risk when working with clients with addictions.  You learn to assess the level and immediacy of risk, implement and manage risk minimisation procedures, initiate continuing support for clients, and coordinate and facilitate staff debriefing.


The Family Therapy Specialty Stream progresses into coordinating interventions for children and adolescents, adopting a collaborative approach to goal setting and intervention planning appropriate to the client’s stage of development.


The final unit of this Stream applies risk management and crisis intervention procedures in the practice of family therapy.  Responding appropriately and efficiently to risk situations, managing disclosures of abuse and/or violence, and following up the effectiveness of crisis intervention procedures are covered.  There is also an emphasis on supervision, debriefing and self care.


The Grief and Loss Specialty Stream continues with a focus on planning and initiating interventions in complicated or unresolved grief including the assessment of complicated grieving patterns and how they are different from expected responses to loss.  You analyse client symptoms to initiate interventions to help clients recognise inhibiting factors in the grief process and work towards their resolution.


The final unit of this Stream provides a framework to respond to traumatic grief.  Communicating sensitively and compassionately with individuals experiencing sudden, unexpected loss; assessing their readiness for intervention; and designing, managing and implementing traumatic grief interventions are covered in this unit.

Each Stream at the Vocational Graduate Diploma level is supported by two practical components.  Each practical can be completed by attending a two-day seminar; a private assessment; or submitting a video/DVD.



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