Counselling - College of Education, Health and Human Development - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

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Studying Counselling at Canterbury

Applications for selection into the limited-entry papers (COUN675 and COUN672) close on 1st October.  Enrolment is limited to 12 students per year.  Please use the application forms below.

What is Counselling?

Counselling is a professional activity that is both a process and a relationship. It is a process whereby people evaluate themselves, make choices, accept responsibility for those choices, and decide on courses of action that are consistent with those choices. The relationship between counsellor and client is an alliance, in which both trust and understanding are essential.

Counselling at Canterbury is situated within a postmodern framework emphasising solution-focused approaches in counselling and therapy. These approaches are underpinned by social constructionist principles. Counsellors educated at UC use these principles to enhance and promote the positive growth, wellbeing, and mental health of individuals, families, groups, and members of the broader community who consult them. Rather than seeking to identify internal deficit or dysfunction, counsellors are interested in working with people to help them express, evaluate and act on their own skills and expertise, understandings, preferences, hopes and preferred futures.  

Counsellors educated at UC bring a collaborative, developmental, multicultural, and wellness perspective to their research and practice. The research and professional domain of counselling overlaps with other professional areas such as psychology, health, social work, education and sociology.

Master of Counselling student profile
Student Profile - Sheshe Yurong,
Master of Counselling student

Master of Counselling student profile
Student Profile - Liz Riley,
Master of Counselling student

Counselling diagram (PDF,425KB)

Is a career in Counselling for me?

Counselling is a profession that attracts people who have a developed understanding of themselves, a high level of empathy, the basic desire to help other people and an interest in issues of social justice.

What and how will I learn at UC?

The Master of Counselling is a programme comprising five postgraduate papers and a three paper professional research portfolio or thesis. It is designed to equip students with the academic knowledge and professional skills to continue an academic career and/or work as a counsellor in a variety of settings. Three papers (HLTH481, COUN678 and COUN679) are able to be taken by students who are interested in incorporating counselling papers in other postgraduate programmes at UC, such as the Health Sciences, Psychology or Education.

Dates for the 2017 Block timetable courses for Part 1 courses are here:

Counselling programme diagram

A solution-focused model of counselling forms the basis of the Master of Counselling. Solution-focused counsellors act in systematic, effective ways to help clients find their own simple, acceptable alternatives to their current concerns and problems. The counsellor's focus is on being genuinely curious about the experience, knowledge and expertise of their clients and helping them to cope effectively rather than achieve self-actualisation or personality change. In the counselling programme, counsellors will learn about the social constructionist theoretical underpinnings of solution-focused counselling and become skilled in using appropriate solution-focused thinking and techniques.

The focus of the teaching is on providing students with experiences to further their knowledge, professional attitudes and competence in counselling. Students are encouraged to integrate the solution-focused model of counselling with previous skills and knowledge and their critical examination of other models.

Our programme is structured to allow students out of Christchurch the opportunity to participate. We mostly use a format of intensive workshops (for practice-based teaching) alongside internet-based teaching and learning activities. The intensive workshops vary between two to five days. Dates for block courses on campus can be found in the degree.

Practice papers offer the opportunity for students to have supported professional experience in community and/or education settings.

During Part 2 of the MCouns programme students complete research on counselling which may include their own practice. Here are examples of research from recent graduates.


The minimum period of enrolment for a full-time candidate is two consecutive years; the maximum period is three years from the year of first enrolment.

The minimum period of enrolment for a part-time candidate is four consecutive years; the maximum period is six years from the year of first enrolment.

Why study Counselling at UC

The UC Master of Counselling is the only postgraduate counselling qualification offered in the South Island. We offer flexibility to study part-time and/or by distance (most distance papers include compulsory participation in on-site intensive course work). You receive strong support from your lecturers and have a great online network with access to coursework, staff and other students. It means that you can study part-time or full-time whilst continuing to work, meet family responsibilities and pursue other interests.

Students in the counselling programme have many opportunities to meet with other students both in their own and other cohorts.

The New Zealand Association of Counsellors recently profiled the UC Master of Counselling programme. Read more

How should I prepare for studying Counselling at UC?

Before applying for admission to the Master of Counselling gaining some practical experience in the community is recommended. It may be church work, volunteer work at a school, a telephone counselling service, a community mental health provider, etc. Experience which encourages development of skills for relating well with people are also valuable, for example, nurse aiding, working in a rest home, work with children with disorders etc. The people who supervise you may be asked to provide a recommendation as part of the application process.

Entry requirements

There are three pathways available in the Master of Counselling suite of papers, each with slightly different entry requirements.  The pathways are:

  • Incorporating counselling papers HLTH481, COUN678 and/or COUN679 in other postgraduate programmes. Here entry requirements are determined by the other programmes.
  • Studying part-time towards a Master of Counselling. This normally involves enrolling in HLTH481 and/or COUN678 and/or COUN679.  Entry requirements are similar to those for other post-graduate programmes.
  • Studying full-time, or transferring into the limited-entry papers (COUN675 and COUN672) with the intention of completing the Master of Counselling for which you need:

Your completed forms are to be sent by email to our Programme Entry Team at

There is a formal selection process for entry to the limited entry papers COUN675 and COUN672. This involves a full day commitment in early November and requires applicants to participate in group activities, a role-played counselling session and a selection interview. Selection is based on academic attainment (normally a B average in 300 level papers), relevance of professional experience, ability to critique role-played counselling, interest and commitment to understanding and engaging with constructionist positioning on which the programme is based. Students must also be vetted by police.



Applications open on 1st September and close on 1st October.

1. Full-Time Applicants

If you want to incorporate counselling papers into another post-graduate programme, you may enrol online between (October and January).

Applications for selection into the limited-entry papers (COUN675 and COUN672) close on 1st October.  Enrolment is limited to 12 students per year.  Please use the application forms above.

Selection for admission to the limited-entry papers COUN675 and COUN676 (the professional practice component of the Master of Counselling) is based on written applications, academic records, referees' reports and interviews. Interviews will be scheduled in November and enrolment is limited to 12 students per year. To be selected for an interview you must be eligible to enrol in the Master of Counselling programme. 

This means you must include the following with your application (see above for application information):

  1. If you are a new postgraduate student in the College of Education, Health and Human Development:
    • certified copies of all previous tertiary academic transcripts from universities other than Canterbury;
    • details (verified by an employer or supervisor) of your work history as a counsellor;
  2. If you are a continuing postgraduate student in the College of Education, Health and Human Development:
    • details verified by an employer or supervisor) of any work history as a counsellor;

2. Part-Time Applicants

Please contact a student advisor or phone +64 3 369 3333.

Please Note:

All international students or students who do not hold a degree from a New Zealand University will also be required to apply for admission to the University.

What jobs do Counselling graduates do?

Graduates of the Master of Counselling may work as school counsellors, family therapists, health counsellors, career counsellors, tertiary counsellors, consultants, managers and counsellor educators. They work in community agencies, private practice, medical centres and schools.

Recent UC Counselling graduates are extending their studies as doctoral students, others are working as school counsellors, family therapists, health counsellors, vocational counsellors, tertiary education counsellors, consultants, managers and counsellor educators.

Further study

The Master of Counselling may lead to Doctoral Study. The University of Canterbury offers a Doctor of Philosophy.

More Information

Students with enquiries about the Counselling programme or their eligibility to enter the programme should contact:

For Undergraduate Students (University of Canterbury):

For Postgraduate Students, other NZ Universities or International enquiries: