Graduate Diploma
of Counselling

Develop your understanding of appropriate and

professional approaches to support those in need

Graduate Diploma of Counselling - Education Courses

Qualification / Award CO45C Graduate Diploma of Counselling
Course Duration 1 years full-time / 2 years part-time
Credit Points 48 (8 Units)
Delivery On Campus
Available to Domestic
IELTS 6.5 with no band less than 6.0
Course Accreditation ACA
CRICOS 056056K
Financial Information FEE - HELP for Domestic Students - Course Fees Page
AQF Level 8
Key Dates Application Deadlines and other Key Course Dates
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The Graduate Diploma of Counselling is ideal for anyone in a helping, educational, ministry and/or community support and engagement profession who desires to integrate counselling skills and mental health knowledge into their current vocation.

Students are exposed to a range of theoretical, therapeutic and clinical models and techniques, acquiring an understanding of:

(i) appropriate and professional approaches to supporting those in need and;
(ii) contemporary mental health issues and related life challenges.

Whether you are a nurse, paramedic, occupational therapist, speech pathologist, social, community or welfare worker, or involved in another helping profession; teacher/educator; minister, pastor, priest or other church worker; member of the police force; engaged in community development etc., become equipped and confident to provide quality relational care and support to those encountering life difficulties (e.g., crisis and trauma, grief and loss, relational difficulties, illness or disability, employment issues, mental health issues etc).

Students who satisfactorily complete the Graduate Diploma of Counselling can advance to the Master of Counselling. The Graduate Diploma of Counselling is designed to equip individuals whose profession/employment calls for some mental health and wellness/strengths-based counselling (e.g. incidental counselling). Students are exposed to contemporary counselling theory, with an emphasis on the development of practical skills relevant to a variety of counselling situations and challenging life issues.

Student Workload: 10 hours per unit per week (includes provision for personal study)
Austudy approved

Delivery Mode

The School of Counselling provides a flexible timetable, allowing students to coordinate study with family, employment, church and other commitments.

  • Each semester runs for 13 weeks, with a 2-week mid-semester break
  • Full-Time students complete four units per semester
  • Part-Time students complete two units per semester
  • Classes are face-to-face delivery with some online units at our new campus in Macquarie Park, NSW
  • Classes are held throughout the week

Recognition of Prior Learning

If the applicant is successful they will be issued an offer letter and a written agreement. Students will need to respond to the offer within 6 weeks. This is done online and a confirmation will be emailed back to the applicant. At this point, applicants are welcome to apply for Credit or Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). If you are eligible for credit or RPL, you may be exempt from completing some units and you may be able to finish your degree in a shorter amount of time.

Please refer to the Credit and Recognition of Prior Learning Policy reference.


Graduate Diploma of Counselling - Course Overview


English Language Proficiency

Applicants whose qualifying undergraduate studies were taken in a language other than English will be required to demonstrate English proficiency as per the table below:

Examination Minimum Score
IELTS 6.5 with no band less than 6.0
TOEFL iBT (Internet-based) 79 with no score less than 20
PTE Academic 58 with no score less than 50

Applicants with Higher Education

Educational Prerequisites

Applicants may be admitted to the Graduate Diploma of Counselling if they have previously successfully completed a relevant:

  • Bachelor degree or
  • Bachelor Honours degree

‘Relevant’ means a degree that includes subjects such as psychology, social work and education where you studied human motivation and behaviour. “Non-relevant” means degrees that are science based (not including psychology), where you have not studied human motivation and behaviour.

Applicants with non-relevant degrees will be considered on the basis of their Work and Life Experience.

Applicants with Work and Life Experience

Applicants without undergraduate qualifications can apply for admission via the Work and Life Experience pathway which may consider other forms of study completed in the higher education and vocational sectors, volunteer activities, contribution to church life, professional development relevant to counselling. For more information refer to the Student Selection and Admissions Policy and Procedure.

Suitability Assessment

All applicants will need to meet the following requirements:

  • Interview: Successfully complete an admission interview (including a Readiness for Counselling and Psychotherapy Training Questionnaire);
  • Criminal History Record: Provide a National Criminal History Record check at time of application (obtainable from:; and
  • Working with Children Check: Provide a Working with Children authorisation at time of application obtainable from:

International Students

The Graduate Diploma of Counselling is available to overseas/international students, subject to satisfying the aforementioned admission criteria.

For more information visit the International Student page

Recognition of Prior Learning

If the applicant is successful they will be issued an offer letter and a written agreement. Students will need to respond to the offer within 6 weeks. This is done online and a confirmation will be emailed back to the applicant. At this point, applicants are welcome to apply for Credit or Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). If you are eligible for credit or RPL, you may be exempt from completing some units and you may be able to finish your degree in a shorter amount of time.

Please refer to the Credit and Recognition of Prior Learning Policy reference.

Download the Student Selection and Admissions Policy and Procedure.


Counselling is in increasingly high demand in workplaces, schools and community centres, where counsellors are employed in providing mental health knowledge and support to individuals and groups across a diverse array of issues. Counsellors will often choose to specialise in working with a particular segment of the population, and they may even specialise in their therapeutic approach. Some counsellors will seek employment while others will prefer to work in their own private practice. The Counselling training at Excelsia provides you with all of the knowledge, skills and experience to enter into any of these diverse areas.

As the Graduate Diploma is nested within the Master of Counselling, there are options to advance to the Masters level, subject to satisfactory academic progression. The Graduate Diploma of Counselling also provides an optional exit award from the Master of Counselling Program.


As a foundational unit, the aim of the Introduction to Counselling skills unit is to develop foundational levels of counselling competence, supported by key skills required for effective clinical practice. For example, students will be introduced to core counselling concepts such as transference and counter-transference, which while originating in the psychodynamic psychotherapeutic domain, are now part of broader counselling discourse. In addition to acquiring the core counselling skills students will learn how the core skills find expression in a range of Counselling modalities.

Counselling theories and models provide frameworks for conceptualising and interpreting. clients’ histories, issues and experiences, and are used to guide approaches for different groups and inform approaches to working with clients. Students will examine both historical and contemporary theoretical frameworks, exploring the implications of different theoretical emphases on client care. They learn how to apply theory when working with specific clients with various life challenges, and to formulate case conceptualisations which underpin client care and client outcomes

Employing a bio-psycho-social-spiritual framework and associated approaches, students learn about the aetiology, diagnostic presentation, assessment and evidence-based interventions for a range mental health issues. They reflect on personal assumptions relating to mental illness, including the relationship between spirituality and mental illness, also considering how stress and vulnerability predispose some individuals to mental health episodes. Finally, they explore the role of social and family contexts in the onset of mental-health disorders and their management.

Relational dynamics are at the heart of human engagement and communication, counsellors and clients influenced and affected by significant relationships in their lives. Students learn about the importance of processing the adverse effects of relational experiences, this informed by intrapersonal, interpersonal and relational theory, with an emphasis on interpersonal neurobiology, attachment and systemic theories. They critically reflected on their personal relationship experiences, become conversant with their own affective regulation, reflective functioning and relational capacity, and develop an understanding of how and when their own, and their clients’ relational histories and current experiences may affect therapeutic outcomes.

Employing bio-psychosocial and socio- cultural lenses, students examine how humans grow and change across the lifespan, considering the contribution of developmental and socio-cultural factors to normative outcomes. They examine major theories of human development, including the interface between the individual and his/her broader historical, socio-cultural context. They consider how the spiritual domain affects development for those with a faith worldview, and how different experiences of society and culture including factors such as racism, bias and discrimination, oppression, power and privilege, and prejudice can adversely affect individual development and present as clinical issues. Finally they develop an awareness of the importance of socially and culturally sensitive counselling practice.

In this unit students learn how to ethically and responsibly manage this position, becoming conversant with all relevant regulatory codes and Australian legislative requirements that govern the Health sector. They explore ethical principles in professional decision-making processes, reflect on the benefits of professional association membership, and are encouraged to be aware of, and thoughtful about, how their personal moral stance and ethical framework informs and influences their professional practice.

This unit is designed to introduce counsellors to the therapeutic setting and experience of group work. Students are introduced to the theories of group work and also aims to provide students with fundamental clinical skills used in group work, along with an understanding of how to design, implement, facilitate and assess a group program.

Throughout the unit students will have the opportunity to integrate their experiences of belonging to a group and facilitation of a group through obtaining relevant knowledge. Across the units, students will be encouraged to develop their own unique facilitation style and cultivate the relevant group work skills in a safe, nurturing and non-judgmental context.

Counselling practice is underpinned by a professional body of knowledge, predominantly drawn from counselling and health care research. This unit aims to equip students to become knowledgeable consumers of this body of research, and to become aware of key interpretative issues relevant to research more generally. In order to equip students in this way, this unit introduces students to a range of philosophical, theoretical and practical skills and understandings necessary to design, conduct and evaluate research in counselling and related fields. Further, to be able to critically evaluate the relevance of specific contemporary research findings for professional practice, counsellors need to be conversant with how knowledge is produced and is deemed to be acceptable by a professional community. Thus, acquiring an understanding of the core elements of the research process and research ethics enables counsellors to thoughtfully discern whether and how specific findings may inform their clinical decision-making and client care.


Applicant background
2019 Semester 2
Number of Students Percentage of all students
(A) Past higher education study
(includes a bridging or enabling course)
16 41%
(B) Past vocational education and training (VET) study 0 0%
(C) Work and life experience
(Admitted on the basis of previous achievement not in the other three categories)
0 0%
(D) Recent secondary education:

  • Admitted solely on the basis of ATAR (regardless of whether this includes the impact of adjustment factors such as equity or subject bonus points)
0 0%
  • Admitted where both ATAR and additional criteria were considered (e.g. portfolio, audition, extra test, early offer conditional on minimum ATAR)
0 0%
  • Admitted on the basis of other criteria only and ATAR was not a factor (e.g. special consideration, audition alone, schools recommendation with no minimum ATAR)
0 0%
International students 23 59%
All students 39 100%