Christian worldview integration

Christian higher education institutions such as CHC are committed both to academic freedom and to freedom of belief more generally, and thus will not require of their students that they believe or personally hold to a Christian perspective. A Christian higher education institution will, however, be committed to excellent teaching about Christian perspectives so that students know, understand and can discuss what they have freely chosen, either to believe, not to believe or to suspend judgement upon, and in turn can examine how a Christian perspective might impact on life, culture and scholarship. Christian higher education such as that found in the counselling programs at CHC continually engages in critical analysis of different worldviews and perspectives in terms of their implications for the theory and practice of counselling and psychotherapy. Students in the counselling programs are exposed to current knowledge, theory and skills in the fields of counselling and psychotherapy, while being given opportunity to opportunity to reflect on and integrate what they are learning from the perspective of a Bible-based Christ-centred worldview.

Rationale

The Bachelor of Counselling and Master of Counselling at CHC aim to equip graduates with the knowledge, skills and personal attributes required to work effectively in a variety of faith-based and secular counselling contexts. To achieve this, students study and learn to apply current theory and practice from the field of counselling and psychotherapy, while being provided with opportunity to reflect on and integrate what they are learning from the perspective of a Bible-based Christ-centred worldview.

The Bachelor of Counselling and Master of Counselling are based on the following core principles:

A holistic integrated approach to counselling and counselling training

Students in the Bachelor of Counselling and Master of Counselling are exposed to a range of theoretical approaches to counselling and encouraged to develop an integrated approach to counselling based on the understanding that the human person is an integrated being and that no one approach to counselling has all the answers or is the right approach for every client. Students develop an intentionally integrated understanding of the human person, the basis of human difficulties, and processes of change, growth and healing.

An emphasis on the person of the counsellor and the therapeutic relationship

Rather than teaching students how to counsel, CHC’s approach is to make students into counsellors from the inside out. Based on the foundational principles of the Person-centred approach, the Bachelor of Counselling and Master of Counselling have a strong emphasis on developing the person of the counsellor.  This includes valuing the well-being of the counsellor. Research consistently shows that above everything else, the therapeutic relationship is the most important factor for change in counselling. Consequently, there is a strong focus on developing therapeutic relationship skills and the core counselling conditions in CHC’s counselling programs.

An intentionally relational and experiential learning community

Consistent with the previous principle, CHC’s counselling programs utilise pedagogical approaches that are intentionally relational and experiential in orientation. While theoretical and empirically based knowledge is valued and made available to students, the approach to learning counselling at CHC is primarily an experiential one in which students are given opportunity to personally as well as professionally reflect on the implications and potential application of what they are learning with respect to their own person, relationships and engagement in broader society.

A strong emphasis on counselling skills training and the practice of counselling

A fourth component of CHC’s commitment to producing graduates with the capacity to make a meaningful contribution to their client’s growth and wellbeing involves the strong emphasis within the counselling programs on the acquisition and practice of counselling skills and actual counselling experience.

A commitment to rigorous academic standards and currency of course content

Although CHC counselling courses are highly experiential in nature with a strong emphasis on the development of the person of the counsellor, they also value and prioritise academic rigour and the importance of staying up-to-date with emerging trends and findings relating to the fields of counselling and psychotherapy. This includes underpinning all aspects of the counselling programs with the latest neuroscience research.

Intentional engagement with spirituality as it relates to students and the practice of counselling more generally

Recent years have witnessed a growing awareness of and focus on the importance of spirituality as a dimension of humanness and as a significant potential dimension of the therapeutic relationship and process. CHC’s overtly Christian ethos represents an advantage in this respect as it allows an explicit naming and consideration of issues related to spirituality and its place in the experience of CHC students and the practice of counselling more broadly. While CHC’s programs are clear about the use of Christian worldview and spirituality as important frames through which to reflect on and engage with the development of the person of the student counsellor and her or his associated counselling practice, it is recognised that a Christian worldview also requires a respect for and hospitality towards other expressions of faith and spirituality.

Recognition of the need to prepare students to work appropriately and inclusively with clients from diverse backgrounds

Australian society is becoming increasingly diverse and pluralistic in composition and perspective. As a result, counsellors today will encounter clients with a broad range of backgrounds, experiences and views. In particular, professional counselling practitioners will work with clients with diverse cultural, ethnic and sexual identities, religious and spiritual views and practices and socioeconomic backgrounds, as well as people with serious mental health issues and physical, developmental, learning and intellectual disabilities. Often, the experiences, values and choices of the counsellor will be very different to those of their potential clients. As a result, CHC’s counselling programs are designed to equip student counsellors with the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to work ethically, sensitively, inclusively and respectfully with clients from diverse backgrounds within an increasingly pluralistic society.

Facilitation of practice frameworks that are specific and appropriate for each individual student

CHC’s counselling programs emphasise the importance of supporting and facilitating each individual’s journey towards maturity and wholeness. Similarly, a Christian worldview can be argued as advocating the importance of allowing each person to discover, develop and use his or her unique talents and gifts in service to his or her community. As a result, the Bachelor of Counselling and Master of Counselling are designed to assist student counsellors to intentionally and critically construct their own personal counselling frameworks as they progress through their studies and accompanying practical experiences.

The importance of ethics and ethical practice

A common emphasis shared by both a Christian worldview perspective and the counselling profession pertains to the importance of ethical behaviour and decision-making with the often-vulnerable people who present for counselling. Consistent with a relational philosophy and Christian worldview position, counselling students at CHC are not only exposed to ethical codes but are given opportunity to evaluate the differing ontological, epistemological and axiological bases of ethics, ethical behaviour and ethical decision-making. In particular, they are invited to personally and professionally reflect on what it means to be an ethical person-practitioner. This includes reflecting on their personal and professional competence, which is evaluated throughout the program.