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Master of Counselling & Psychotherapy

The Master of Counselling and Psychotherapy integrates the Graduate Certificate and the Graduate Diploma, offering students an opportunity to study the art and science of therapy in an integrated, highly personal and experiential way. Students in the program are provided with a philosophically aligned and cohesive program which supports their ability to relate to themselves, their clients and their work with genuine caring presence and respectful engagement.

The aim of the Master of Counselling and Psychotherapy is to provide high-level training in the skills required to work effectively with a wide variety of clients. The program provides a deep immersion into the theory and practice of an integrative, humanistic, process-oriented, relational psychotherapy that incorporates contributions from the psychodynamic, cognitive and existential approaches. There is a strong experiential focus in order to provide a hands-on, practice-oriented training and learning experience. The course adheres to solid evidence-informed principles of the common factors that characterise effective counselling and psychotherapeutic work, also providing a firm grounding in the professional, ethical, and legal issues associated with counselling and psychotherapy practice. Students in the program are trained in research methods and participate in a process-oriented research case study, in order to give them a unique opportunity to contribute to learning in the field.

It is the only course of its kind to provide students with a fully supported placement experience, including sourcing placement opportunities through established industry partnerships and providing intensive in-house individual and group supervision in order to fully prepare students for the workplace.

Fully accredited by both the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA) and the Australian Counselling Association (ACA), the Master of Counselling and Psychotherapy is taught exclusively by respected therapist academics practicing in the field, who work as a team to support each student’s learning.

Location: Hawthorn East Intake: Semester 1 each year
Delivery:  Full Time and Part Time Fees:  Fee information can be found here
Duration: 2 Years Full Time or 4 Years Part Time FEE-HELP: Yes
CRICOS Course Code: 092969C Course Code: CP091
Course Duration and Structure

This two-year full time, or four-year part-time program, consists of 200 credit points. Students undertake a total of 16 units of study consisting of twelve coursework units, two placement units and two research relevant units.

Year One
CPc1 Psychotherapeutic Theories and Models
CPc2 Person-Centred Counselling
CPc4 Facilitating Therapeutic Change
CPc5 Cognitive Behavioural Therapies
DPc7 Assessment Process in Counselling and Psychotherapy
DPc2 Ethics and Professional Development
DPc3 Counselling Placement 1
DPc4 Treatment Planning
Year Two
MPc4 Counselling Placement 2
MPc5 Exploring Process-Experiential Emotion-Focused Therapy
MPc6 Existential Psychotherapy and the Group Process
MPc7 Key Competencies in Brief Dynamic Psychotherapy
MPc1 Research Project
MPc9 Relationship and Marital Therapy
MPc10 Trauma Therapy – Loss and Grief
MPc11 Interpersonal Processes in Psychotherapy

For unit descriptions, please click here.

Admission Criteria

Entrance into the Masters of Counselling and Psychotherapy requires:

  • An Australian Bachelor degree (AQF 7) in a related discipline (teaching, social work, social sciences, psychology, counselling or similar) with at least a 70% average marks.
  • Prospective students wishing to enrol into the Master course who have an Australian Bachelor degree in a non-relevant discipline are encouraged to enrol in the Graduate Diploma level to assess their suitability. They may be required to undertake The Cairnmillar Institute’s Introduction to Counselling Skills and Advanced Counselling Skills short courses prior to the enrolment.

To apply:

Prospective students are required to submit an application through the Apply Now page, with certified copies of the following supporting documentation:

  • Most recent academic transcripts
  • A current curriculum vitae
  • A 500 word personal statement outlining the reasons for wanting to undertake the course
  • Proof of residency/citizenship (e.g. passport, birth certificate, or citizenship certificate)
  • Two references, preferably with at least one academic, using the online HODSPA reference system. A guide on how to use the system is available here.

Prospective students who are short-listed will be invited to attend an interview with members of the School Teaching Faculty. This provides the applicant with the opportunity to discuss any questions they have about the course of study.

Recognition of Prior Learning

Students may only be given credit for any coursework if it is from a successfully completed approved course at the appropriate Australian AQF postgraduate level.

Graduate Learning Outcomes

Students who satisfactorily complete the course will have achieved advanced knowledge and skills in the following areas of study:

  • The ability to facilitate the therapeutic process according to established the client’s focused goals.
  • The skills to conduct risks assessment and apply crisis intervention skills and management.
  • Understanding of relational dynamics and capacity for effective human relatedness that facilitates change.
  • An awareness of the impact of the self on others and the development of relational intelligence, sensitivity, resilience and respect.
  • The ability to understand and practice within the PACFA Code of Ethics and Professional Guidelines.
  • Developed the relevant research and data analysis skills with the ability to critically review research studies.
  • Developed capacity to be self-reflective and learn from experience.
  • Acquired knowledge of applying alternative modes of working with clients, including the use of real-time internet platforms within ethical guidelines.
  • Awareness and understanding of the range of human diversity and social, cultural, economic and psychological contextual influences.
  • Understanding the impact of gender, sexual identity, sexual orientation, age, ability, class, religion, race and ethnicity on therapy.
  • Respect and acknowledgment of indigenous history and culture.
  • Acquisition of a high level of verbal and professional communication skills.
Career Opportunities

Graduates may find employment in a variety of settings including community health and community services organisations, the health professions, rehabilitation providers, human resource management, child protection, family support counselling services, allied clinics and services, and private practice.

Professional Recognition