Introduction to Counseling


My goals for this course are that you as a student will:


This course assumes that the best way for you to learn about counseling is to have some experience counseling and being counseled. It is a "learning by doing and being done to" model. Thus, one of the class requirements is that you spend two hours a week outside of class engaged in "co-counseling pairs." This demands both the willingness to commit the extra time and, more importantly, the willingness to share with peers aspects of your inner life and outer difficulties.

Before enrolling in this class you should consider very carefully your willingness to get into emotional concerns, both your own and those of your classmates. This course places heavy emphasis upon self-disclosure and participation in various experiential-learning exercises. Furthermore, you will be videotaped as counselor or client and these sessions are critiqued by the class, as a whole. Thus, this is not an experience for the student who simply wants to sit back and take notes. Before enrolling in this class, you should consider very carefully your willingness to get into emotional concerns, both your own and those of your classmates. While the atmosphere of the class tends to be supportive, it is not one in which you can just sit back and check it all out. It demands active participation and a willingness to take interpersonal risks.

This class requires consent of the instructor, both to gain entry and for continued enrollment. Because this course is one that tends to stir up emotional issues, students need to assess their own readiness to undertake such training at this time, as well as submitting to the professional judgement of the instructor. On rare occasions, it may be necessary to ask a student to drop the class.

Here are some of the things we look for in terms of prerequisites:

Course Structure

Class meets twice a week. Usually, the first meeting of the week will be devoted to didactic presentations in the form of lectures, discussions of the reading, films, and so on. The second session will generally be an experiential laboratory involving role-playing, video feedback, demonstrations, group exercises, and so on.


This class is graded on an A - F basis. Grades are based on (1) your performance on exams covering the three required books, (2) a final integrative paper on your co-counseling experience, and (3) attendance. To earn a grade of "A" you must score 90% or above, 80% or higher for a "B," and so on.

There are a couple of points I should make about grading. First, I tend not to lecture on the books. I expect you to read the books and get the significant material out of them on your own. I generally prefer to use class time to introduce supplementary material rather than go over material which the author has already presented. However, you have a standing invitation to ask any questions you wish in class, about the reading or whatever.

The other point I wish to make about grading is that your grades are based upon exam performance, papers, and attendance but not upon my assessment of your counseling skills. This approach has both strengths and weaknesses. One strength of this approach is that it frees you up to experiment and to make mistakes without worrying about how it will affect your grade. Furthermore, any judgements I might have about your counseling skills would be highly subjective and difficult to substantiate in the event of any disagreement between us. The disadvantage of not grading your ability as a counselor is that you might have great counseling skills and do terribly on the graded parts of the class, ending up with a low grade that doesn't reflect your true potential as a counselor. This rarely happens but when it does, I am happy to write strong letters of recommendation for such students, stressing that the grade is not reflective of their actual counseling skills. Finally, I would advise that you not let your grade be your central concern. There is quite a lot of benefit that you can derive from this class regardless of what grade you get. Keep that in mind.

A 3 - 4 page, typewritten autobiography is due the second week of class. This autobiographical statement is ungraded but absolutely required. It will be read by everyone in the class and will become an important part of the process of choosing co-counseling partners.

Finally, a 4-page, typewritten, co-counseling paper is required at the end of class. This paper is graded. It should describe the process of your co-counseling sessions, including a self-assessment of your own strengths and weaknesses in the both the counselor and client roles, resistances encountered, how they were dealt with, and so on. It is highly recommended that you keep a journal of your co-counseling sessions. This will be an invaluable aid when it comes time to write your co-counseling paper.

Class attendance is required. You can miss up to three class sessions without penalty. Anyone missing more than three class sessions can expect to be penalized 2% for each additional cut.



Counseling and Therapy Skills by Martin

Interpersonal Process in Psychotherapy (2nd ed.) by Teyber

The Search For Existential Identity by Bugental

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DVN 9/16/96