GRA 2237 Counselling

GRA 2237 Counselling

Course code: 
GRA 2237
Leadership and Organizational Behaviour
Course coordinator: 
Per-Magnus Thompson
Course name in Norwegian: 
Product category: 
MSc in Leadership and Organisational Psychology
2023 Spring
Active status: 
Level of study: 
Teaching language: 
Course type: 
One semester

All contemporary human service providers and personnel managers encounter situations in which they are required to help people to change some aspect of their behaviour. In the workplace, such situations may include employees' need for improved role effectiveness, personnel conflicts, organizational changes that affect the individual, such as job loss, restructuring and reorganization. All people who counsel operate from theoretical frameworks about how people become the way they are, how they respond to situations, how problems evolve and are maintained, and how people can be helped to change. Counselling is also at the heart of coaching, which has become very popular as a tool in many contemporary leadership development programmes. This course will give students an up-to-date overview of major theoretical approaches in counselling and how they are used in counselling work problems.

Learning outcomes - Knowledge

The objective of the course is to provide students with knowledge of different theoretical approaches to counselling as well as awareness of how and why these theories are used to counsel employees. The students will need to explore and discuss a range of psychological theories in depth to understand the rich diversity of possible theories that explain psychological adaptation, maladaptation and counselling processes. A particular emphasis is made on the students' learning of verbal exchanges as a tool for developmental activities.

At the end of the course, not only will students have an understanding of the major counselling theories and their academic roots, but will also have gained a better understanding of their own behaviour and some practical skills in counselling. They should have a realistic expectation about the possible contributions they can make by using conversations as tools for changing clients, with a particular emphasis on workplace problems and leadership development. Further, the course will train the students to see that ethical issues protecting client integrity is an integrated part of professional helping relationships. The students will be aware their limitations in that this is not a course enabling them to treat people, but instead an orientation to make them able to choose from the available counselling and coaching techniques to find practical courses later on that will further their professional skills.

Learning outcomes - Skills

The students will know how to conduct a professional counselling conversation with a person in need of help. They will explore and understand how to meet people with different, sometimes unknown problem situations. The students will learn to apply a non-interfering, positive and client-centred approach to help their clients evolve and adapt to the problem situations at hand. A major part of the learning is to gain an advanced understanding of roles for different relationships, and their mutual (in)compatibility in helping professions. This learning should make it possible for the students to apply their knowledge in a productive way without overstepping the boundaries of the role they have at any time as professionals.

They will also be able to understand when to pass the client over to more skilled helpers and when to improve their own skills to satisfy demands for professional skill levels in counselling.

General Competence

The students will have reflected on how verbal communication in general and helping conversations in particular may be of value in organizational psychology. A special emphasis is made on understanding mental health as a fluid, non-constant aspect of human functioning. The students will learn advanced ideas to understand how concepts such as adaptation, stress and emotional regulation are important in the regulation of professional working life and career development.

The course aims at self-reflection in the understanding of how professional roles affect helping relationships, and how verbal communication is partly dependent on professional knowledge, partly on the roles of the participants.

Course content
  • Introduction to counselling and counselling theory
  • Humanistic approaches to counselling
  • Existential approaches to counselling
  • Behavioural approaches to counselling
  • Cognitive and cognitive-behavioural approaches to counselling
  • Integrative approaches to counselling
  • Differences between counselling and therapy
  • Ethics and professional limitations
Teaching and learning activities

The course is structured as a combination of lectures, discussions, in-class activities, role plays and student case presentations. It requires substantial amount of preparation by the students and active involvement during class.

Software tools
No specified computer-based tools are required.
Additional information

Please note that while attendance is not compulsory in all courses, it is the student’s own responsibility to obtain any information provided in class.

This is a course with continuous assessment (several exam components) and one final exam code. The components will be weighted together according to the information in the course description in order to calculate the final letter grade for the examination code (course). Students who fail to participate in one/some/all exam elements will get a lower grade or may fail the course. You will find detailed information about the point system and the cut off points with reference to the letter grades when the course starts.

At resit, all exam components must, as a main rule, be retaken during next scheduled course.


All courses in the Masters programme will assume that students have fulfilled the admission requirements for the programme. In addition, courses in second, third and/or fourth semester can have specific prerequisites and will assume that students have followed normal study progression. For double degree and exchange students, please note that equivalent courses are accepted.


Deviations in teaching and exams may occur if external conditions or unforeseen events call for this.

Required prerequisite knowledge

GRA 2205 Organisational Behaviour or equivalent
GRA 2203 Psychological Measurement and Individual Differences or equivalent

Exam category: 
Form of assessment: 
Exam code: 
Grading scale: 
Point scale leading to ECTS letter grade
All components must, as a main rule, be retaken during next scheduled course
Exam category: 
Form of assessment: 
Written submission
Group/Individual (1 - 2)
1 Semester(s)
Term paper (written in groups of 2 students, single students possible after approval by the teacher).
Exam code: 
GRA 22371
Grading scale: 
Point scale leading to ECTS letter grade
All components must, as a main rule, be retaken during next scheduled course
Type of Assessment: 
Continuous assessment
Grading scale: 
Total weight: 
Sum workload: 

A course of 1 ECTS credit corresponds to a workload of 26-30 hours. Therefore a course of 6 ECTS credits corresponds to a workload of at least 160 hours.