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Helping Others


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 6
  • Convenor: Sian Macfie
  • Assessment: a 2500-word essay (100%)

Module description

This Level 6 module will introduce you to the field of psychodynamic counselling by exploring its roots in the everyday experience of helping other people. This involves an examination of concepts such as sympathy, empathy, love, attachment and friendship, alongside specifically psychoanalytic concepts such as containment and countertransference.

The aim of this module is to delineate the specifics of the role of counsellor or psychotherapist, and how this role can be taken up and sustained. Becoming a counsellor involves the acquisition not only of intellectual knowledge and understanding, but also of personal qualities of self-awareness and emotional sensibility. The nature of these qualities is explored through practical exercises, which give you the opportunity to further develop and refine these capacities. The ethical principles of psychodynamic practice will also be studied in this module.

The learning will build on the psychosocial understanding of individual and social experience acquired in the previous modules, now brought to bear to tease out the complex dynamics and implications of trying to help others in a professional way. The learning will be both academic (through lectures and seminars) and experiental (through class-based practical exercises).

Indicative module content

  • The traditional and everyday roots of counselling and psychotherapy in practices of healing and helping others
  • Exploration of concepts of sympathy, empathy, confession, catharsis, love, attachment, friendship and other related concepts
  • Exploration of psychodynamic concepts which further illuminate the practice of psychodynamic counselling (such as containment, countertransference, enactment, intersubjectivity)
  • Exploration of personal/emotional and ethical qualities needed to become a psychodynamic counsellor (notably self-awareness, emotional sensibility and learning from experience)
  • Exploration of the role of psychodynamic counsellor, how it is set up and sustained
  • Study of ethical principles on which counselling and psychotherapy is based, how these are codified and applied

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • describe the philosophical and conceptual underpinnings of the practice of counselling and psychotherapy
  • delineate the specific features that define the role of psychodynamic counsellor
  • describe the ethical principles on which psychodynamic counselling is based and consider the implications of these principles for the practice of psychodynamic counselling
  • apply a psychosocial perspective to the psychodynamic understanding  of counselling and psychotherapy and how it is practised
  • practice taking up the role of psychodynamic counsellor in class-based exercises
  • appraise your personal capacity for self-awareness and emotional sensibility and explore how to develop these capacities.