Undergraduate Courses at Bangor University

Module PHP-3008:
Theories of Th Counselling

Module Facts

Credits:20 (or 10 ECTS credits)
When:Semester 2
Taught in:
Organiser:Dr Fay Short

Overall Aims and Purpose

This module will provide an opportunity to understand the various approaches to counselling and psychotherapy in addition to establishing a range of basic communication skills. Students will be introduced to the concept of therapy with specific focus on issues relating to boundaries, contracts, and ethics. The course will explore the four key approaches and therapies in psychotherapy (person centred therapy from humanistic approach, psychoanalytic therapy from psychodynamic approach, behaviour therapy from behavioural approach, and cognitive therapy from cognitive approach). In addition, the course will further explore some integrative and eclectic therapies (rational emotive behaviour therapy, Gestalt therapy, transactional analysis, and/or neurolinguistic programming). To support learning, students will be invited to watch therapy in action through a series of video sessions and provided with a forum to engage in regular discussion groups. Students will also be given an opportunity to practice interpersonal communication skills in a controlled small group setting.

Topics covered in this module include:
•    Counselling and Psychotherapy (defining counselling and psychotherapy, therapist and client roles, boundaries and ethics in the therapeutic relationship, distinctions between approaches therapies and models);
•    Humanistic Approach and Person-Centred Therapy (history of approach with focus on Carl Rogers, theories of human nature and personality, therapeutic relationship, therapeutic techniques);
•    Psychodynamic Approach and Psychoanalytic Therapy (history of approach with focus on Sigmund Freud, theories of human nature and personality, therapeutic relationship, therapeutic techniques);
•    Behavioural Approach and Behaviour Therapy (history of approach with focus on Burrhus Frederic Skinner, theories of human nature and personality, therapeutic relationship, therapeutic techniques);
•    Cognitive Approach and Cognitive Therapy (history of approach with focus on Aaron Beck, theories of human nature and personality, therapeutic relationship, therapeutic techniques);
•    Approaches, Therapies, and Models (distinguishing between approaches and therapies and models, purist vs non-purist perspectives, integration/eclecticism vs syncretism, types of integration and eclecticism, Egan’s Skilled Helper Model)
•    Integrative and Eclectic Therapies (Rational Emotive Behaviour therapy, Gestalt therapy, Transactional Analysis, and/or Neurolinguistic Programming)

Course Content

It is important that you have a clear understanding about the available modules so that you can make an informed choice. Unfortunately, some people misunderstand counselling - they think that a module in counselling and psychotherapy will be very low on academic content and require little more than sitting around discussing your childhood and your dreams! In reality, this module has a huge amount of content and you will need to be able to understand some very difficult core theories in order to pass the course.

It is also important for you to understand the ways that you will be assessed on this course. This course uses a range of assessment methods in order to help you develop all of the skills relevant in psychotherapy. Firstly, you will be expected to write a critical essay focusing on psychotherapy in action. Secondly, you will be expected to work in small groups to demonstrate your communication skills - these sessions will be recorded and you will write a reflective essay about your own skill development. Thirdly, you will sit an oral exam during which you will contribute to a small group discussion led by the lecturer. Finally, you will sit a written exam containing short answer questions covering the breadth of the topics presented in the lectures. Success in this module demands that you engage with all aspects of the course, and this will require you to attend many sessions per week. We have a two hour lecture, one hour video, two hour practical, and one hour discussion session every week. As counselling is a practical skill requiring you to be able to interact effectively with others, there is a lot of contact time associated with this module. It is extremely important that you attend all of these sessions in order to understand the material and develop the relevant skills.

Assessment Criteria


Adequate answer to the question, largely based on lecture material. No real development of arguments.


Reasonably comprehensive coverage. Well organised and structured. Good understanding of the material.


Comprehensive and accurate coverage of the area clarity of argument and expression. Depth of insight into theoretical issues.

Assessment Methods

1. Coursework (25%)

Evidence of a communication session and reflective essay analysing communication skills (LO 6)

2. Coursework (25%)

Essay critically analysing therapy in action using evidence from one of the video sessions (LO 5)

3. Exam (25%)

Final Exam oral exam comprising of graded contribution in a discussion group. (Learning Outcome 1 - 5)

4. Exam (25%)

Final written exam comprising of short answer questions. (Learning outcome 1 - 4)

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcome 1

Consider the nature of the therapeutic counselling process by demonstrating an appreciation for the importance of boundaries and an understanding of the ethical principles.

Learning Outcome 2

Describe and evaluate the principles of the four main psychological approaches and related therapies: Human Approach and Person-Centred Therapy, Psychodynamic Approach and Psychoanalytic Therapy, Behavioural Approach and Behaviour Therapy, Cognitive Approach and Cognitive Therapy.

Learning Outcome 3

Distinguish between approaches, therapies, and models by defining inegration/eclecticism and discussion Egan's Skilled Helper Model.

Learning Outcome 4

Describe and evaluate various intergrative and eclectic therapies, such as rational emotive behaviour therapy, Gestalt therapy, transactional analysis or neurolinguistic programming.

Learning Outcome 5

Recognise, identify, debate, and critically evaluate therapeutic approaches in action.

Learning Outcome 6

Demonstrate effective and appropriate communication skills in one-to-one therapeutic simulations.

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses:

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