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.


  • Lesson 1: Culturally Responsive and Socially Just Practice
  • Lesson 2: Appreciating the Complexity of Cultural Identity and Relationality
  • Lesson 3: Embracing Multiplicity and Subjectivity
  • Lesson 4: The Sociocultural Construction of Meaning and Lived Experiences
  • Lesson 5: Barriers to Healthy Cultural Identity Development
  • Lesson 6: The Uneven Playing Field
  • Lesson 7: Fostering Connection, Mutuality, and Open Dialogue
  • Lesson 8: Engaging in Collaborative, Egalitarian, and Values-Based Practice
  • Lesson 9: Fostering Culturally Responsive and Socially Just Counselling Outcomes and Processes
  • Lesson 10: Co-Constructing Microlevel Interventions in Collaboration with Clients
  • Lesson 11: Co-Constructing Mesolevel Interventions in Collaboration with, or on Behalf of, Clients
  • Lesson 12: Engaging in Macrolevel Interventions on Behalf of Clients
  • Lesson 13: Commitment and Continued Competency 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

Gazzola, N., Buchanan, M., Sutherland, O., & Nuttgens, S. (Eds.), Handbook of Counselling and Psychotherapy in Canada. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association.

Sinacore, A. & Ginsberg, F. (Eds.), Canadian Counselling and Counselling Psychology in the 21st Century. Montreal, QC: McGill-Queens University Press.

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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