Graduate Counselling and Applied Psychology (GCAP) 671

Responsive Counselling Relationships & Interpersonal Communication (Revision 8)


View previous revision

Delivery Mode: Paced study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Graduate Studies

Prerequisite: GCAP 631, GCAP 633

This course must be taken through GCAP.

Faculty: Faculty of Health Disciplines

Check availability


The Responsive Counselling Relationships & Interpersonal Communication course is designed to build on the foundation of critical reflection on both counselling theory and processes, as well as appreciation for both client and counsellor cultural identities and social locations, established in GCAP 631 and 633. In this course, the focus will shift to translating conceptual understanding into applied practice skills. Learners query the ways in which the relational practices of the counsellor and the nature of the therapeutic relationships can shift, adapt, or be altered in response to the specific cultural identities, contexts, values, worldviews, and needs of each individual client. The focus is on the conceptual and theoretical influences on responsive relationships, the ways in which counselling processes support and are supported by responsive relationships, the ways in which specific counselling microskills and techniques can be employed in service of responsive relationships, and the importance of reflective practice in ensuring client-centred, responsive relationships and counselling processes.


  • Week 1: Building Responsive Relationships
  • Week 2: Communicating Care and Building Rapport
  • Week 3: Creating Interpersonal and Cultural Safety
  • Week 4: Fostering Client-Centred Relationships
  • Week 5: Co-Constructing Shared Understanding: Affect and Embodiment
  • Week 6: Co-Constructing Shared Understanding: Thoughts & Beliefs
  • Week 7: Assessing Client Preferences & Adjusting Counselling Style
  • Week 8: Foregrounding Client Worldviews and Co-Constructing Preferred Futures
  • Week 9: Contextualizing Client Challenges and Preferred Futures
  • Week 10: Synthesizing Responsive Relationship Skills and Techniques
  • Week 11: Building a Collaborative Foundation for Change
  • Week 12: Maintaining Responsive Relationships
  • Week 13: Reflecting Backward and Looking Forward

Synchronous Activities

Learners will not be required to take specific days off work or away from family to participate in the synchronous learning activities. Learners engage in skills practice activities with a series of partners from their section of the course. They also participate in pairs and individual coaching with the course instructor and several synchronous Teams meetings with all class members (maximum of 10 students per sections). These synchronous activities are spread out over the semester to optimize learning and to keep the time demands manageable (2 to 4 hours per week). Learners will also negotiate the specific dates and times for the weekly activities with the course instructor and class members at the beginning of the semester to optimize scheduling for all members of the course team. We do our best to group students by time zone to facilitate connecting with others in real time.


To receive credit for GCAP 671, students must submit all of the course assignments, achieve a minimum grade of B- (70 percent) on Videos 2 and 3, obtain a pass on the Applied Practice Activities Consent Form and Evaluation, and obtain a composite grade of at least B- (70 percent)on the course. The weighing of the composite grade is as follows:

Course Activity Weight
Assignment 1 Applied Practice Activities: Part I (Consent Form) Pass/Fail
Assignment 2 Responsive Relationships Review and Application to Self: Part I 5%
Video 1 Rapport Building and Exploring Presenting Concerns 10%
Video 2 Multidimensional Exploration of Client Lived Experiences 25%
Assignment 2 Responsive Relationships Review and Application to Self: Part II 15%
Video 3 Collaborative Conceptualization of Client Lived Experiences 30%
Assignment 1 Applied Practice Activities: Part II (Instructor Evaluation) Pass/Fail
Assignment 2 Responsive Relationships Review and Application to Self: Part III 15%
Total 100%

Course Materials

Ko, G., Anderson, M., Collins, S., & Yasynskyy, Y. (2021). Fostering responsive therapeutic relationships: Repositioning microskills and techniques in services of just relationships. Counselling Concepts.

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

Other Resources

All other course materials are available online.

Other Information

Students with a disability, who require academic accommodation, need to register with the Accessibility Services 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 Accessibility Services to request academic accommodation if required and to notify the instructor that such accommodation has been requested. Every reasonable effort will be made to accommodate individual student needs. However, because GCAP courses are paced, all student are required to participate weekly in the online discussion forums or other interactive activities. There are also several courses where online exams are required.

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

Opened in Revision 8, May 1, 2021.

View previous revision