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Athabasca University

Master of Counselling
Program Regulations

Program Delivery

The program is offered during three semesters each year. Students participate in paced learning activities that require completion of course work on a fixed schedule. All course work should be completed during the semester periods. Extensions to these timelines may be granted, if circumstances warrant.

Students progressing through the Master of Counselling program on the standard program plan sequence generally complete the program in 3.3 years. Students may take courses at a slower pace to accommodate life circumstances. Thesis students usually take approximately one extra year to complete the program.

It is strongly recommended that you consider the time commitment involved with online graduate work as you prepare for this program. You should plan to devote a minimum of 15 hours per week in each course. During the semesters when you are completing your practicum, you must be able to devote 250 hours per semester on your practicum placement.

Program Requirements

The MC program involves 36 credits of graduate psychology courses: seven core courses, a 6-credit practicum and nine more credits (courses determined by which specialization is chosen).

MC Core Courses

All students are required to complete the following core courses.

GCAP 631 Models of Counselling and Client Change (3)
GCAP 632 Professional Ethics (3)
GCAP 633 Counselling Psychology: Sociocultural and Systemic Influences (3)
GCAP 634 Assessment Processes (3)
GCAP 635 Intervening to Facilitate Client Change (3)
GCAP 671 Developing a Working Alliance (3)
GCAP 691 Methods of Inquiry (3)

All students are also required to complete an Advanced Counselling Practicum:

GCAP 685 Advanced Counselling Practicum (6)

Students may apply to complete a thesis as part of the Counselling Psychology specialization. Thesis students complete the following additional courses:

GCAP 692 Advanced Quantitative Methods (3)
  or  
GCAP 693 Advanced Qualitative Methods  
GCAP 696 Thesis I (3)
GCAP 697 Thesis II (3)

All students are automatically enrolled in the course-based exit route. In the course-based exit route, students complete two courses in their area of specialization (three courses for art therapy) and the following culminating course as their third elective course:

GCAP 695 Specialization Seminar – Knowledge Transfer (3)

Art Therapy Program Plan

Students in the Art Therapy specialization will complete a portion of their coursework through Athabasca University and a portion through the Vancouver Art Therapy Institute (VATI). The Art Therapy students must follow a fixed program plan because of the nature of the collboration with the Vancouver Art Therapy Institute. For more details on the Art Therapy specialization courses, please see the VATI website. Since there is a relatively small cohorts of students in this stream, you must adhere to the following course schedule.

The thesis route is not available to MC:AT students because it does not allow room for the Art Therapy specialization courses.

Year Semester AU Courses VATI Courses
1 Fall GCAP 631: Models of Counselling and Client Change (online)  
  Winter GCAP 633: Counselling Psychology: Sociocultural and Systemic Influences (online)  
  Spring/Summer GCAP 635: Intervening to Facilitate Client Change (online + Summer Institute)
GCAP 671: Developing a Working Alliance (online + Summer Institute)
 
 
2 Fall GCAP 691: Methods of Inquiry (online)  
  Winter GCAP 632: Professional Ethics (online)
GCAP 651: Art Therapy History and Theory
 
  Spring/Summer GCAP 634: Assessment Processes (online) VATI 601: Art Therapy Training Group I (Summer Institute)
VATI 603: Art Therapy Techniques Lab I (Summer Institute)
 
3 Fall GCAP 685: Advanced Counselling Practicum (online + field placement + intensive seminar VATI 617: Specialized Practicum (200 hours)
  Winter GCAP 685: Advanced Counselling Practicum (online + field placement + intensive seminar VATI 617: Specialized Practicum (may extend into spring semester)
  Spring/Summer   VATI 601: Art Therapy Training Group II (Summer Institute)
VATI 603: Art Therapy Techniques Lab II (Summer Institute)
 
4 Fall GCAP 695: Specialization Seminar – Knowledge Transfer  

Please Note:

  1. In order to meet all the requirements for the Registered Canadian Art Therapist designation and the AU Master of Counselling Program (MC:AT), students are required to complete an additional 200 hours of supervised practicum for a total of 700 hours. VATI 617 fulfills this purpose. This practicum will include a number of instructional modules included in the VATI Summer Institutes and some additional assignments.
  2. Two courses will be recognized for transfer credit into the AU Master of Counselling to complete your degree requirements: VATI 601 and VATI 603, which are both offered in two parts; one at each of the VATI Summer Institutes that occur in Years 2 and 3 of your program.
  3. You are required to attend the GCAP Summer Institute in Calgary in Year 1 and two VATI Summer Institutes in Years 2 and 3. No exceptions will be permitted. The VATI Summer Institutes will be held in Vancouver at VATI.
  4. To meet all the requirements for the Registered Canadian Art Therapist designation, MC:AT students require one additional elective, which will result in one extra-to-program course registration.
  5. All MC:AT students are required to complete two self-study modules housed on the GCAP Moodle site before attending the VATI Summer Institute in Year 2: Child Art Therapy Module and Adolescent Art Therapy Module.

Counselling Psychology Program Plan

The normal program plan is four courses per year; one in the fall, one in winter, and two in the spring-summer semester. All students are required to complete the first year of the program as a cohort, completing the first four courses in a standard sequence. The courses have been designed to build sequentially the foundational competencies required for your success in the rest of the program. Accordingly, students must pass GCAP 631 to proceed to GCAP 633; and must pass GCAP 633 in order to take GCAP 671 or GCAP 635. Students not passing GCAP 633 will be given an alternative program plan, requiring them to retake GCAP 633 the following year and defer the Summer Institute by one year.

For most students, four courses per year is the ideal pace to complete their program as it ensures core courses are available and you have maximum flexibility in selecting elective courses. The program normally takes 3.3 years to complete.

Year Semester Course-Based Exit Route Thesis Route
1 Fall GCAP 631: Models of Counselling and Client Change (online) GCAP 631: Models of Counselling and Client Change (online)
  Winter GCAP 633: Counselling Psychology: Sociocultural and Systemic Influences (online) GCAP 633: Counselling Psychology: Sociocultural and Systemic Influences (online)
  Spring/Summer GCAP 635: Intervening to Facilitate Client Change (online + Summer Institute)
GCAP 671: Developing a Working Alliance (online + Summer Institute)

GCAP 635: Intervening to Facilitate Client Change (online + Summer Institute)
GCAP 671: Developing a Working Alliance (online + Summer Institute)
 
2 Fall GCAP 691: Methods of Inquiry (online) GCAP 691: Methods of Inquiry (online)
  Winter GCAP 632: Professional Ethics (online) GCAP 632: Professional Ethics (online)
  Spring/Summer GCAP 634: Assessment Processes (online)
Specialization Option I (online)

GCAP 634: Assessment Processes (online)
GCAP 692: Advanced Quantitative Methods*
or
GCAP 693: Advanced Qualitative Methods*

 
3 Fall GCAP 685: Advanced Counselling Practicum (online + field placement + intensive seminar) GCAP 685: Advanced Counselling Practicum (online + field placement + intensive seminar)
  Winter GCAP 685: Advanced Counselling Practicum (online + field placement + intensive seminar) GCAP 685: Advanced Counselling Practicum (online + field placement + intensive seminar)
  Spring/Summer Specialization Option II (online) GCAP 696: Thesis I*
 
4 Fall GCAP 695: Specialization Seminar – Knowledge Transfer GCAP 697: Thesis II*
  Winter   GCAP 697: Thesis II*

Please Note:

  1. Most students will complete the program through the course-based exit route. Students enter the thesis by application in their second year, following GCAP 691. Admission is based on:

    - GPA
    - Availability of research supervisors
    - Alignment with faculty research interests.

  2. You must plan to add in 250 hours per semester of on-site placement during GCAP 685: Advanced Counselling Practicum.
  3. If you are in the course-based exit route, you may opt to take GCAP 695 in the spring-summer semester of Year 3 along with your final elective, if you have completed the 500 hours required for GCAP 685: Advanced Counselling Practicum.
  4. The courses above marked with an asterisk * indicate differences in course requirements for each of the program plans—thesis or course-based exit.

School Counselling Program Plan

Students in the School Counselling specialization will complete the following courses in the order noted below:

Year Semester Course-Based Exit Route
1 Fall GCAP 631: Models of Counselling and Client Change (online)
  Winter GCAP 633: Counselling Psychology: Sociocultural and Systemic Influences (online)
  Spring/Summer GCAP 635: Intervening to Facilitate Client Change (online + Summer Institute)
GCAP 671: Developing a Working Alliance (online + Summer Institute)
 
2 Fall GCAP 691: Methods of Inquiry (online)
  Winter GCAP 632: Professional Ethics (online)
  Spring/Summer GCAP 634: Assessment Processes (online)

GCAP 660: School Counselling: Roles, Strategies and Interventions (online)
 
3 Fall GCAP 685: Advanced Counselling Practicum (online + field placement + intensive seminar
  Winter GCAP 685: Advanced Counselling Practicum (online + field placement + intensive seminar
  Spring/Summer Specialization Option (online)
     
4 Fall GCAP 695: Specialization Seminar – Knowledge Transfer (online)

Students in the MC: School Counselling specialization are not eligible for the Thesis route.

Maximum Time in the Program

Under exceptional circumstances, you may be permitted to complete the program over a longer period of time (taking up to a maximum of seven years). However, you must still complete the first year courses as part of your cohort. Be prepared to plan ahead to ensure course availability if you deviate from the standard program plan.

Program Status

To maintain program status, students must complete six credits during each academic year (September 1 to August 31). Students are required to receive an overall grade of 70 per cent or B- to pass each GCAP course. In addition, students are expected to maintain at least a B or 75 per cent in the program. Students who fail a course, or who receive a grade of B- in two courses, may be removed from the program with no option for re-admission to graduate programs.

Residency

In keeping with Athabasca University's mandate of open access, residency requirements for the MC are satisfied when the student has successfully completed 24 credits within the MC program. The remaining credits may be transferred from other institutions, if they are applicable to AU's MC program.

Throughout the program, students must participate in a three-week summer institute and two 4-day intensive seminars. These intensive face-to-face experiences are held in Calgary, Alberta. All students must complete GCAP 671 Developing a Working Alliance and GCAP 685 Advanced Counselling Practicum within the MC program.

Program Withdrawal

Students may withdraw from the program by submitting their request in writing to the GCAP program office and formally withdrawing from any courses in which they are currently registered. Students who withdraw may apply to re-enrol in the program by following the regular application procedures outlined above.

Full- and Part-time Status

Normally, the MC program is completed at a pace of four courses per year. Students may study in the program on a full- or part-time basis. Part-time students must complete a minimum of six credits per calendar year. Program students are considered full time if they complete a minimum of nine credits in a given calendar year. Note however, that other organizations (e.g. provincial student loan programs, First Nations, Canada Revenue Agency) may have other criteria for defining full-time status.

Program Completion Time Limits

Students must complete the MC degree requirements within seven years of their initial enrolment in the program. Students who do not do so may be required to repeat courses completed at the beginning of their program.

Use of Master of Counselling Credential

The MC Program does not have candidacy exams, therefore the use of MC (C) or MC (Candidate) during your program is not permitted. You may use this credential only after the degree is conferred.

Graduation Requirements

To be eligible for graduation, each student must successfully complete 36 credits of graduate coursework required for the MC degree, including either the thesis or course-based exit.

 

Information effective September 1, 2017 to August 31, 2018.

Updated November 06 2015 by Student & Academic Services

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