A women talking to a counsellor in a counselling session
A women talking to a counsellor in a counselling session

Counselling Placement: Your Questions Answered


In a noisy world that is complex, uncertain and constantly changing, it’s more important than ever that there are people who can listen.

As a student of our online Master of Counselling, you will have the opportunity to put your listening skills into practice with 220 hours of professional placement. Georgina Ackers, course coordinator of the online Master of Counselling, says “this aspect of the master’s degree is aimed at developing the full identity and competence of the counsellor. It provides students with practical, real-life experience before they graduate and start working in the field.”

Placement is an exciting part of your studies and you may have questions or concerns about the process. We have compiled some of the most common questions below, but you can always reach out to your Student Success Advisor if you would like additional information or support.

Learn more about ECU's online Master of Counselling today.

Here are your most frequently asked questions about the counselling placement:

Where will placement be?

The Placement Team works on your behalf to source placements, however please note that students in rural or remote locations may need to assist with securing a placement (or be flexible on travel and location of placement). If you have a particular area of interest, we encourage you to network with relevant agencies or organisations to find out more about placement opportunities. The agencies we secure for student placements will vary each study period, but some examples of well known agencies ECU have worked with in the past include Relationships Australia, Headspace, Lifeline and Centacare. We have also worked with community health organisations, private practices, schools, workplace assistance programs. We have also sourced placements for students in specialist areas such as youth programs, housing assistance programs or cancer support agencies. Previous relationships don't guarantee we will have availability in these organisations for students in the future.

Can I request what days I want to do the placement?

Placement will run for two days a week over 16 weeks (two study periods). The specific days per week will be negotiated between you and your allocated agency.

Can I find out where my placement will be at the start of the course?

Placements are not finalised until one or two study periods beforehand. You will be informed of your allocated placement agency approximately 30 days prior to placement commencing.

Who organises placement?

The Placement Team works on your behalf to source placements and is there to support you through the placement period. The Placement Team will connect with you after you commence your first Masters level unit.

How will I be notified about my placement?

Our Placement Team will reach out to you after you commence your first Masters level unit. They will be in regular contact with you to organise your placement. You will be informed of your allocated placement agency approximately 30 days prior to placement commencing.

How far will I have to travel for placement?

It is expected that you will need to travel for the placement component of this course. This will likely be within 1.5 hours of your home but you may be required to travel to your nearest capital city to complete the placement component of this degree.

What if I am sick on placement? Who do I have to notify and by what time?

You are expected to behave in a professional manner while on placement and this includes informing your Agency Supervisor and the Placement Team if you are unwell. Any hours you miss due to illness will need to be made up later in the program to ensure you meet requirements.

What are the dress code requirements for placement?

Each agency will have a different dress code, however in general you should present neatly and professionally.

Can I request a change of location for placement?

If you are planning to move or change location during your studies, please inform the Placement Team as soon as possible so that they can plan accordingly.

What requirements do I need to fulfill before placement?

You need to satisfactorily complete a Working With Children Check (or equivalent), Police Check and sit an interview with your prospective placement agencies. Health Services Agencies also require placement students to provide proof of Covid-19 vaccination.

What requirements do I need to fulfill during placement?

You need to complete 220 hours of placement (including 60 hours of client contact), during which you will be required to complete a Learning Contract, a log of your hours and reflective notes from sessions with clients. Your supervisor will also need to complete a student assessment at the end of placement.

When will I need to submit assessment documents?

You will need to submit your assessment documents at various stages of the placement process.

Can I work while on placement?

You may work during placement, however the expectation is that placement will be your priority while you are undertaking your Master of Counselling. You will be expected to organise other commitments like work as best you can around your placement organisation’s availability and hours.

Can I do placement where I work or volunteer?

You can complete placement in your workplace or volunteer organisation in the following circumstances:

  1. You must work with clients who you do not usually work with, preferably in a different department.
  2. You must be supervised by a qualified supervisor who isn’t currently your manager.
  3. Your placement hours must be unpaid.

You can reach out to your Student Success Advisor if you would like to discuss this further.

Can I gain Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) for paid or volunteer work?

It is unlikely you will be able to gain RPL for paid or volunteer work because it must align with the Course Learning Outcomes. If you would like to discuss the possibility of RPL, please reach out to your Student Enrolment Advisor.

Will placement be in my desired area of practice?

While the Placement Team takes your preferences into consideration, there are no guarantees that placement will be in your area of preference. This due to the availability of placements at certain times and is largely out of Placement Team’s control.

Can I request a specific placement or placement supervisor?

You will not be able to request a specific placement or placement supervisor, but you can share your preferences with the Placement Team. Final decisions about the allocation of placements are made by ECU.

Do I have to go to the placement I’m offered?

You have the right to request consideration for a placement change if there is appropriate reasoning. Careful consideration should be given to this process as alternative options will not always be available.

Could I do my placement 100% online?

Currently, 100% online placement is not available. However, we will inform students if this becomes an option for the placement component of their degree.