Higher Certificate in Community Counselling

(Minimum one year, maximum three years, 124 credits)


This programme aims to train and equip lay counsellors to be knowledgeable and effective in making a difference in the mental health and well-being of individuals in a variety of settings, including churches, schools, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and faith-based organisations (FBOs).

Mode of delivery


Time Commitment

One year full-time. 18 months to two years part-time. No evening classes. On-campus. January and July intakes.


Registered as Cornerstone Institute (RF) NPC with the Department of Higher Education and Training as a private higher education institution under the Higher Education Act, 1997, Registration Certificate No 2001/HE08/006; NQF 5; SAQA ID 96413.

Important Links




Admission Requirements

  • A National Senior Certificate or National Certificate Vocational (with certificate pass)
  • A Matriculation Certificate or equivalent
  • Mature age of 45 years can be admitted, determined by the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) portfolio of evidence provided 

  • The National Benchmark Test (NBT) results.

Geraldine Franciscus (M. Psych) is the Head of the Department at Cornerstone Institute and has over 10 years’ experience in tertiary education.

Students who have completed the qualification should be able to:

  • Know the historical development and current status of psychology in understanding
    human behaviour
  • Be familiar with marriage and family development and family issues as part of a
    developmental psychology framework
  • Be familiar with the dynamics of crisis and crisis intervention strategies
  • Identify issues young people face in the context of certain South African realities i.e.
    alcohol, teenage pregnancy, HIV Aids, violence, substance abuse, and gangsterism
  • Have an understanding of contemporary contextual social problems and have insight
    to intervention strategies that can be used to address these
  • Describe personality functioning and have a foundational understanding of
    psychological disorders, its’s causes and treatment approaches
  • Have an understanding of work in community mental health settings and the
    services that can be provided.

Module Descriptions

Higher Certificate in Community Counselling (NQF5)

Developmental Psychology (12 credits)
This module provides students with an overview of the major theories of Developmental Psychology. Furthermore the module aims to address contemporary concerns in lifespan development from conception to late adulthood/death and dying. The course will engage with developmental theories from a range of orientations, including learning/cognitive theories, theories of language development and a socio-cultural perspective.

Introduction to Abnormal Psychology (6 credits)
This module is an introduction to the most frequently encountered types of abnormal behaviour, with an overview of the symptoms, the diagnostic process, and the generally accepted treatment methods of various psychological disorders.

Introduction to Psychology (12 credits)
This module aims to provide the student with an understanding of persons, ideas, and principles in the sphere of human behaviour, which we understand as the social sciences. The historical development and current status of psychology, investigative activities, and significant findings are reviewed. Introduction to Psychology will also engage with psychological thought in relation to the South African context.

Crisis Counselling (12 credits)
In this module students will gain an understanding of the dynamics of crisis counselling and theories to gain insight into crisis intervention models.

Community and Mental Health Issues (12 credits)
This module seeks to create awareness about various mental health issues in the South African context. Specific focus is given to the local community and interventions that target mental health issues. The role of the mental health worker in South Africa is examined and attention is given to the challenges in mental health care.

Counselling and Life Skills (12 credits)
This module provides students with training in how to develop and design life skills programmes, psycho-educational training and individual counselling interventions. This module provides an understanding of persons, ideas and principles in the sphere of human
behaviour and examines how to manage structured psycho-educational activities in personal and group interventions and how to evaluate their success.

Family and Development (12 credits)
This module surveys the themes of marriage development and family issues. The student will be introduced to the dynamics of change within marriage and the family as part of a developmental psychology framework.

Interpersonal Skills and Communication (12 credits) 
This module provides students with an understanding inter-and intrapersonal communication skills. Focusing within an academic context specifically on personal development through; self-awareness in verbal and non-verbal communication.

Group Counselling (12 credits)
This module aims to provide the student with a basic theoretical understanding of groups, group processes, group dynamics and the stages of in-group development.

Academic Reading and Writing (12 credits) This module concentrates on the skills needed for successful tertiary study. Special attention is paid to listening and reading for comprehension, writing clearly and logically, and giving proper credit to sources utilized. These essential skills will be developed through exposure to readings and talks, and practise these skills in a supportive environment with detailed feedback. This module enables students’ to develop their critical thinking ability in order to source and evaluate academic material. Students will understand plagiarism and referencing and learn to write and reference a structured academic paper.

Information and Technology Skills (4 credits) 
Through this module students will learn to use a computer for emails, internet, word processing, spreadsheet development and electronic presentation suites. This will enable students to access the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) known as Funda, which is used by Cornerstone for communication with lecturers and administrative purposes, as well as research and submission of assignments.

Higher Certificate in Community Counselling (NQF5)

  • Developmental Psychology (12 credits)
  • Introduction to Abnormal Psychology (6 credits)
  • Introduction to Psychology (12 credits)
  • Crisis Counselling (12 credits)
  • Community and Mental Health Issues (12 credits)
  • Counselling and Life skills (12 credits)
  • Family and Development (12 credits)
  • Interpersonal Skills and Communication (12 credits)
  • Group Counselling (12 credits)
  • Academic Reading & Writing (12 credits)
  • Information & Technology Skills (4 credits)
  • 2022 cycle: Solution-Focused Brief Counselling (6 credits)
  • 2023 cycle: Conflict Resolution (6 credits)

Module descriptions and credits

For a description of each module, see ‘Module descriptions’ herewith above. Otherwise, get in touch with us via helpdesk for further inquiries.

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