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Inherent requirements


Inherent requirements for counselling


These inherent requirements apply to the following course: Diploma of Counselling.

Prospective and current students who are concerned about their capacities in relation to inherent requirements are strongly encouraged to contact the CDU Access and Inclusion team to discuss possible adjustments or alternative courses.


How to read the inherent requirements

These inherent requirements should be read in conjunction with other course information and the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council Standards (APAC, 2019).

There are eight domains of inherent requirements for Diploma of Counselling.

Each domain has five levels:

  1. Introduction
  2. Description
  3. Justification
  4. Adjustments
  5. Exemplars

Inherent requirement domains and statements

Ethical behaviour

Acting in ways consistent with the recognised values of society and avoiding activities that do harm.
In the context of inherent requirements, students undertaking a course of study may be governed by practice standards and codes of ethics.

  1. Introduction
    General legislation that covers working with minors, vulnerable populations, and any practice that might cause harm to an individual is relevant to this course. There are also codes of practice, guidelines, and policies of professional associations such as the Australian Counselling Association (ACA) and the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA) by which members must abide. 
  2. Description of inherent requirement
    Student demonstrates knowledge of, and engages in, ethical behaviour in meeting course requirements.
  3. Justification of inherent requirement
    Compliance with professional codes, workplace policies and standards help to ensure that the students can engage with others in safe and effective interactions in a fair and equitable manner. This supports the physical, psychological, and emotional wellbeing of all. 
  4. Adjustments
    Adjustments must ensure that ethical behaviour and understanding of ethical principles is not comprised.
  5. Exemplars:
    • Acting ethically in managing confidential or sensitive personal information
    • Engaging with others in a professional manner consistent with workplace and societal expectations, including on social media
    • Accepting responsibility for one’s decisions and actions
    • Demonstrating academic integrity in completing assessment tasks
    • Complying with codes and guidelines of ethical conduct of research.
Behavioural stability

The maintenance of conduct that is acceptable and appropriate, according to the recognised norms of society over a given period.

  1. Introduction
    Behavioural stability is required to function and adapt effectively and sensitively in a demanding role.
  2. Description of inherent requirement
    Student demonstrates behavioural stability to work constructively in a diverse and changing academic and clinical environment, which may at times be challenging and unpredictable.
  3. Justification of inherent requirement
    Behavioural stability is required to work effectively as an individual and as part of a team.  Students will be challenged by study requirements, the material studied, and the views and behaviour of others.  They will be required to manage their own behaviour in responding to these challenges objectively and professionally.
  4. Adjustments
    Adjustments must support stable, effective, and professional behaviour in both academic and professional settings.
  5. Exemplars:
    • Managing one’s own emotional state in order to work effectively as part of a team
    • Accepting constructive criticism in a way that allows reflection, and learning and skill development to occur
    • Managing one’s time in order to meet responsibilities to oneself and others in an ethical and professional manner
    • Seeking assistance from staff in a manner which appropriately recognises one’s responsibilities and capacities. 

Related to the law. In the context of inherent requirements, this refers to the legal requirements of professional bodies relevant to specific courses of study.

  1. Introduction
    Counselling practice is governed by legislation covering health professions that are not subject to state registration, to enable the safe delivery of care. Counsellors are also subject to laws governing child protection, mandatory notification of children and young people at risk, and criminal activity. Counselling practice is further governed by peer regulation through professional counselling and psychotherapy organisations. 
  2. Description of inherent requirement
    Student demonstrates knowledge and compliance with relevant laws and professional regulations. 
  3. Justification of inherent requirement
    Knowledge, understanding and compliance with legislative and regulatory requirements are necessary pre-requisites in order to reduce the risk of harm to self and others.
  4. Adjustments
    Adjustments must be consistent with legal and regulatory requirements.
  5. Exemplars:
    • Complying with legal requirements regarding all aspects of practice
    • Complying with professional peer regulation
    • Complying with requirements to obtain particular clearances
    • Completing all administrative processes necessary to complete educational activities
    • Completing mandatory training modules in a timely manner.

Verbal communication: Conveying messages, ideas, or feelings through speech.

  1. Introduction
    Effective verbal communication, in English, is an essential requirement to provide safe and effective delivery of psychology information and to perform competently in a professional environment in Australia. 
  2. Description of inherent requirement
    Student demonstrates:
    • Sensitivity to individual and/or cultural differences
    • The ability to listen, understand and respond to verbal communication accurately, appropriately, empathically and in a timely manner
    • Consistent and appropriate awareness of own verbal communication style
    • The ability to provide clear instructions and guidelines in the context of the situation.
  3. Justification of inherent requirement
    Communicating in a way that displays respect and empathy to others helps develop trusting relationships. Speed and accuracy of communication may be critical for individual safety or therapeutic intervention. Accurate and effective delivery of verbal instructions is critical to individual safety, support, and management.
  4. Adjustments
    Adjustments for impaired verbal communication must address effectiveness, timeliness, clarity, and accuracy issues to ensure safety.
  5. Exemplars:
    • Participating in classroom discussions effectively and in a manner that respects other students and staff
    • Completing individual or group presentations in class.

Non-verbal communication: Communication other than speech that conveys meaning including gestures and facial expressions, body posture, stance, touch, eye movements, eye contact and distance from the person/s with whom you are communicating. Non-verbal cues can provide significant additional information to the person with whom you are communicating.

  1. Introduction
    Effective non-verbal communication is fundamental to clinical counselling and needs to be respectful, clear, attentive, empathic, and non-judgemental.
  2. Description of inherent requirement.
    Student demonstrates: 
    • the capacity to recognise, interpret and respond appropriately to behavioural cues 
    • consistent and appropriate awareness of own behaviours 
    • sensitivity to individual and cultural differences.
  3. Justification of inherent requirement
    The ability to understand non-verbal cues assists with building rapport with people and gaining their trust and respect in academic and professional relationships. Displaying consistent and appropriate facial expressions, eye contact, being mindful of space, time boundaries and body movements and gestures promotes trust in academic and professional relationships. Being sensitive to individual and/or cultural differences displays respect and empathy to others and develops trusting relationships.
  4. Adjustments
    Adjustments must enable the recognition, assessment, and initiation of an appropriate response to non-verbal cues as well as initiation of effective non-verbal communication in a timely and appropriate manner. 
  5. Exemplars:
    • Recognising and responding appropriately to non-verbal cues in classroom situations
    • Monitoring and controlling own non-verbal communication to avoid displays of disrespect towards other students and staff.

Written communication: Communication by written symbols including electronic means, print or handwriting.

  1. Introduction
    Effective written communication, in English, is a fundamental psychology responsibility with professional and legal ramifications.
  2. Description of inherent requirement
    Student demonstrates:
    • Capacity to construct coherent written communication appropriate to the circumstances
    • The capacity to use a range of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to complete academic assessment requirements. 
  3. Justification of inherent requirement
    Construction of written text-based assessment tasks to reflect the required academic standards are necessary to convey knowledge and understanding of relevant subject matter. Accurate written communication for a range of purposes and audiences is vital to provide consistent and safe client care.
  4. Adjustments
    Adjustments must not compromise the necessary standards of clarity, accuracy, and accessibility to ensure effective recording and transmission of information in both academic and clinical settings.
  5. Exemplars:
    • Constructing an essay to required academic standards
    • Participating in tutorial and clinical discussions
    • Engaging in verbal reflection with peers, academic staff, and clients.

The mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through one's thoughts, experience, and senses.

Knowledge and cognitive skills: Acquired skills that reflect an individual's ability to think. Cognitive skills include verbal and spatial abilities, concentration, memory, perception, reasoning, planning and organisation, flexible thinking, and problem solving.

  1. Introduction
    This course requires knowledge of theory and the skills of cognition and literacy.
  2. Description of inherent requirement
    Student demonstrates: 
    • the capacity to locate appropriate and relevant information 
    • the ability to process information relevant to practice 
    • the ability to integrate and implement knowledge in practice.
  3. Justification of inherent requirement
    Safe and effective counselling practice is based on identifying and accurately extracting plus understanding information from a range of sources and applying this appropriately.
  4. Adjustments
    Adjustments must not compromise or impede student's ability to demonstrate the minimum acceptable level of knowledge and cognitive skill required to practice safely.
  5. Exemplars:
    • Ability to apply appropriate conceptual understanding in response to an academic assessment
    • Ability to conduct individual and group sessions for clients based on relevant treatment plans.

Literacy (language): This relates to the ability to acquire, understand, and apply information in the English language in a scholarly manner.

  1. Introduction
    Competent English literacy skills are essential to provide safe and effective counselling practice.
  2. Description of inherent requirement
    Student demonstrates:
    • The ability to acquire information and accurately convey appropriate, effective messages 
    • The ability to read and comprehend a range of literature and information 
    • The capacity to understand and implement academic conventions to construct written text in a scholarly manner including making explicit links between practice and theory.
  3. Justification of inherent requirement
    The ability to acquire information and to accurately convey messages in English is fundamental to ensure safe and effective delivery of counselling practice.
  4. Adjustments
    Adjustments must demonstrate a capacity to effectively acquire, comprehend, apply, and communicate accurate information in English.
  5. Exemplars:
    • Paraphrasing, summarising, and referencing in accordance with the American Psychological Association Publication Manual
    • Producing accurate, concise, and clear documentation while on placement which meets legal and professional requirements.
Reflective skills

Actively listening to someone express their thoughts, feelings or experiences and showing understanding by consciously responding through skills such as paraphrasing, summarising or mirroring.

  1. Introduction
    Counselling practice requires self-awareness and a capacity for reflection and reflexivity in order to consider the effect of one's own issues, actions, values, and behaviours.
  2. Description of inherent requirement
    Student demonstrates the ability to accurately reflect on their performance, and awareness of own responses to constructive criticism and feedback.
  3. Justification of inherent requirement
    Working effectively with others is facilitated by the ability to notice, understand, and effectively manage one's own reactions to situations that may arise. Professional counselling requires well developed understanding of oneself in order to appropriately engage with clients.
  4. Adjustments
    Adjustments must enable the student to demonstrate an acceptable level of capacity in this area.
  5. Exemplars:
    • Identifying when a counselling issue is outside one's scope or expertise, or when one's practice may be negatively affected by personal experience and/or reactions
    • Identifying how one's own relational style and behaviour may impede or enhance work with clients
    • The constructive use of one’s own responses within the interpersonal counselling relationships.
Relational skills

Personal skills required to interact appropriately with others with the aim of building and maintaining healthy, productive relationships. Skills include empathy, trustworthiness, patience, active listening, approachability, and reliability.

  1. Introduction
    Counselling practice requires the ability to use highly developed interpersonal skills and establish and maintain strong relationships with people.
  2. Description of inherent requirement
    Student demonstrates the ability to engage and relate appropriately in classroom activities and group assessments.
  3. Justification of inherent requirement
    Highly developed relational skills are a cornerstone of effective therapeutic relationships that permit effective engagement, assessment, intervention, and closure. Academic and professional activities that involve working with other people benefit from the establishment of clear, respectful relationships and the development of trust.
  4. Adjustments
    Adjustments must enable the student to demonstrate effective relational skills.
  5. Exemplars:
    • Relating effectively, openly, and sensitively to academic staff, research supervisors and other students
    • Demonstrating sensitivity to others personal and cultural values in class discussions.
Sustainable performance

The ability to undertake a task/s over a pre-determined length of time. This could include cognitive (mental) performance such as concentrating for a particular length of time.

  1. Introduction
    Counselling practice requires both physical and mental performance at a consistent and sustained level to meet individual and group needs.
  2. Description of inherent requirement
    Student demonstrates:
    • an ability to consistently complete tasks in a timely manner within a specified period of time 
    • the ability to plan and manage competing demands from multiple tasks
    • the capacity to focus on details and accurately meet the requirements of a task. 
  3. Justification of inherent requirement
    Sufficient energy and mental endurance are essential requirements for effective therapeutic practice which requires concentration on the activity during an assigned period to provide effective support. The ability to manage commitments and devote sufficient time to academic activities over a sustained period is necessary to perform effectively in an academic setting. 
  4. Adjustments
    Adjustments must demonstrate that performance can be consistent and sustained over a given period. 
  5. Exemplars:
    • Attending and participating in educational settings such as tutorials and lectures
    • Completing assessments in a manner that does not compromise the academic integrity of the assessment
    • Sustained effort over a prolonged time period.

Glossary - key terms

Access/placement plan

An Access and/or Placement Plan documents the agreed reasonable adjustments that are to be implemented for an individual student.  Access/Placement plans are developed by the Access and Inclusion team.

The plans outline the reasonable adjustments and indicate the responsibilities of both the student and relevant University staff for implementation of the plan. Depending on circumstances relating to the student’s disability, the plans can be altered or amended to reflect changes in the student’s disability or condition.


Is defined by the University in line with the Disability Discrimination Act (1992) and refers to a carer or assistant, in relation to a person with a disability, who provides assistance or services to the person because of the disability.


Is defined by the University in line with the Disability Discrimination Act (1992) and includes students with:

  • Any physical, sensory, neurological, intellectual, learning disability, psychological or psychiatric condition, and includes physical disfigurement, the presence in the body of disease-causing organisms and total or partial loss of part of the body or a bodily function
  • A temporary, permanent, current, past or future disability, and chronic health conditions which may or may not commonly be considered disabilities.
Fitness to practice

Means a student’s demonstrated ability to meet the expected standards of conduct, compliance, knowledge, performance, and capacity required by the relevant profession and legislation governing the profession.

Reasonable adjustment

Refers to adjustments that can be made to allow a student with a disability to participate in education on the same basis as students without a disability. An adjustment is reasonable if it successfully balances the interests of all parties affected and does not compromise the academic standards or inherent requirements of a subject or course.

Universal design

Refers to the design of products and environments to be usable by all people to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or of specialised design. In education, this means developing course content, teaching materials and delivery methods to be accessible to and usable by students across the broadest diversity ranges.

(Attribution Western Sydney University)

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Inherent Requirements
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