Graduate Counselling and Applied Psychology (GCAP) 633

Counselling Psychology: Sociocultural and Systemic Influences (Revision 5)


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Delivery Mode: Paced study; online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Graduate Studies

Prerequisite: GCAP 631

Faculty: Faculty of Health Disciplines

Centre: Graduate Centre for Applied Psychology

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This course examines the sociocultural influences on psychosocial and cultural identity development and management, with particular attention to the social determinants of health, the impact of cultural oppression on nondominant populations, and the importance applying a contextualized and systemic perspective to case conceptualization. Culture is defined broadly to emphasize diversity across ethnicity, Indigeneity, gender, gender identity, age, ability, sexual orientation, religion, spirituality, and social class. A multicultural and social justice lens is applied to understanding within- and between-group differences, dominant and nondominant sociocultural discourses, life and cross-cultural transitions, as well as cultural and worldview differences in perspectives on development, health, and healing. Students will enhance their competencies for culturally responsive and socially just counselling. Critical, feminist, multicultural, and constructivist metatheoretical lenses will be applied to analyses of the influences of cultural identities and social locations on the counsellor, the client(s), the therapeutic relationship, and the counselling process.


Domain I: Ubiquitous Nature of Culture

  • Week 1 Culturally Responsive and Socially Just (CRSJ) Counselling: Personal Cultural Identities
  • Week 2 Respecting Multiple Worldviews: Intersectionality, Subjectivity, and Dignity

Domain II: Attending to Social Location

  • Week 3 Social Determinants of Health: Power, Privilege, and Marginalization
  • Week 4 Cultural Identity Development: Cross-Cultural Transitioning, Internalized Oppression, and Trauma

Domain III: Professional Identity

  • Week 5 Ethical and Competency Practice: Anti-Oppression and Justice-Doing
  • Week 6 Values-Based Practice: Personal–Profession–Political

Domain IV: Counselling as Relationship

  • Week 7 Transformative Relationships: Connection, Mutuality, and an Ethic of Care
  • Week 8 Just Conversations: Culture Inquiry, Client-Centred Practice, and Constructive Collaboration

Domain V: Case Conceptualization

  • Week 9 Theoretical and Metatheoretical Lenses: Ways of Knowing
  • Week 10 Views of Health and Healing: Anti-Pathologizing and Contextualized/Systemic Lenses

Domain VI: Enacting Multilevel Change

  • Week 11 Co-Construction Change at the Microlevel: Theoretical Flexibility and Cultural Responsivity
  • Week 12 Envisioning Meso and Macrolevel Interventions: Systems Level Change and Socially Just Practice

Endings as Beginnings

  • Week 13 Continuing Competency, Cultural Auditing, and Professional Identity Development

Course Evaluation

To receive credit for GCAP 633, students must submit all of the course assignments. The passing grade for the course is B- (70%). The weighting of assignments is as follows.

Course Assignments

The assessment structure for GCAP 633: Sociocultural and Systemic Influences is based on the following course activities, with the percentage weighting of each activity as indicated. Your final grade for the course will be a composite mark based on your performance in these course activities.

Course Activity Weight
Professional Writing Learning Plan Pass/Fail
Assignment 1: Risk-Taking Journal 15%
Assignment 2: Cultural Profile 15%
Assignment 3: Learning Activity and Discussion Leadership 15%
Assignment 4: Cultural Interview 25%
Submission of Participant Consent Form for Assignment 4 Pass/Fail
Assignment 5: Social Change Project 15%
Class Discussions 15%
Total 100%

Course Materials

Course Texts

Collins, S. (2018). Embracing cultural responsivity and social justice: Re-shaping professional identity in counselling psychology [EPub version]. Victoria, BC: Counselling Concepts.

Other Materials

All other materials are available to students online.

Other Information

Students with a disability, who require academic accommodation, need to register with the Access to Students with Disabilities Centre at Athabasca University. Notification of the need for academic accommodation must normally be provided to the program office no later than fourteen (14) days prior to the first day of class. It is the student's responsibility to register with the ASD Centre to request academic accommodation if required and to notify the Course Coordinator that such accommodation has been requested. Every reasonable effort will be made to accommodate individual student needs. However, because GCAP courses are paced, all students are required to participate weekly in the online discussion forums. There are also several courses where online exams and other interactive components are required.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice.

Opened in Revision 5, January 2018

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