Graduate Diploma of Counselling

Develop your understanding of appropriate and professional approaches to support those in need

Graduate Diploma of Counselling

Duration: 1 year full-time/2 years part-time (domestic only)
Delivery: On campus
Credit points: 48 (8 units)
Domestic (FEE-HELP)/International
IELTS: 6.5 with no band less than 6.0
Course accreditation: ACA
AQF: Level 8
Tuition Fee: International students: $10,928 semester/$21,857 total tuition fee

Enquiry form

Enter the captcha

The Graduate Diploma of Counselling is a program accredited by the Australian Counselling Association (ACA) ideal for anyone in a helping, allied health, educational, ministry, and/or community support and welfare profession who desires to integrate counselling skills and mental health knowledge into their current vocation. The course also prepares graduates to be entry-level counsellors, able to obtain professional association membership and employment within the counselling sector. Students are exposed to contemporary theory, research, and clinical practice, equipping them to confidently provide quality relational care and support to those encountering life difficulties in an empathetic, ethical and therapeutic manner.

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.

Counselling Theories and Models

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.

Approaches to Mental Health

Employing a biopsychosocial-spiritual framework and associated approaches, students learn about the aetiology, diagnostic presentation, assessment and evidence-based interventions for a range of 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.

Development and Diversity

Employing biopsychosocial and sociocultural lenses, students examine how humans grow and change across the lifespan, considering the contribution of developmental and sociocultural factors to normative outcomes. They examine major theories of human development, including the interface between the individual and their broader historical, sociocultural context. They consider how the spiritual domain affects development for those with a faith world view, 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, students develop an awareness of the importance of socially and culturally sensitive counselling practice. 

Introduction to Counselling Skills

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.

Relational Dynamics

Relational dynamics are at the heart of human engagement and communication; counsellors and clients are influenced and affected by significant relationships in their lives. Students learn about the importance of processing the adverse effects of relational experiences. This is informed by intrapersonal, interpersonal and relational theory, with an emphasis on interpersonal neurobiology, attachment and systemic theories. Students critically reflect 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.

Ethical Issues and 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.

Group Process: Theory and 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. The unit 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-judgemental context.

Research Methods

Counselling practice is underpinned by a professional body of knowledge, predominantly drawn from counselling and healthcare 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 understanding 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.

Academic staff for counselling

Dr Dion Khlentzos | Counselling | Head of Counselling | Excelsia College

Head of School of Counselling

Dr Dion Khlentzos

Entry requirements

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 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 please visit the Future Students information page.

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:

Working with children check: Provide a Working with Children authorisation at time of application obtainable from: 

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 Admission Policy and Procedure.

Applicant background
2019 Semester 2
Number of studentsPercentage of all students
(A) Past higher education study
(includes a bridging or enabling course)
(B) Past vocational education and training (VET) study00%
(C) Work and life experience
(Admitted on the basis of previous achievement not in the other three categories)

(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)
  • Admitted where both ATAR and additional criteria were considered (e.g. portfolio, audition, extra test, early offer conditional on minimum ATAR)
  • 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)
International students2359%
All students39


More degrees you might be interested in:

Counselling | Excelsia College
School of Counselling
School of Business | Excelsia College
School of Business
Social Work | Excelsia College
School of Social Work
School of Education | Excelsia College
School of Education
Commonwealth Supported Places (CSP) Courses | Excelsia College
CSP Courses
Creative and Performing Arts | Excelsia College
School of Creative and Performing Arts
Professional Development | Excelsia College
Professional Development