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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Health in Social Science : Counselling Studies

Postgraduate Course: Counselling and Dementia (CNST11078)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Health in Social Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryWith growing numbers of people diagnosed with dementia, there is a need for increased service provision for this client group. This course offers a learning experience to both counsellors/psychotherapists and dementia practitioners that will provide core skills and knowledge to allow them to offer therapeutic support to people with dementia.
Course description This course provides an advanced examination of the emotional support needs of people diagnosed with dementia and how to meet those needs through therapeutic listening. Students will develop their theoretical understanding as well as their therapeutic skills in this area.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand advanced theory of the experiences and therapeutic needs of people with early dementia.
  2. Apply an understanding of the emotional experiences and therapeutic needs of people with early dementia to the practice of therapeutic listening with this client group.
  3. Assess practice skills and areas for personal development in relation to providing emotional support to people with dementia.
Reading List
Adams, T and Manthorpe, J (eds) (2003) Counselling people with dementia. Arnold: London

Bender, M (2003) Explorations in dementia: theoretical and research studies into the experience of remedial and enduring cognitive losses. Jessica Kingsley: London

Sabat, S R (2001) The experience of Alzheimers disease: life through a tangled web. Blackwell: Oxford

Yale, R (2013) Counseling people with early-stage Alzheimers Disease. Health Professions Press: Baltimore

Weaks, D et al (2009) There is much more to my practice than checking up on tablets: Developing nursing practice: a counselling approach to delivering postdiagnostic dementia support. University of Edinburgh: Edinburgh


British Journal of Guidance and Counselling
Counselling and Psychotherapy Research
Ageing and Society
Aging and Mental Health
International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Dementia: the International Journal of Social Research
Health and Social Care in the Community
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students completing this course will have enhanced their:
- communication skills, especially in relation to non-verbal communication and communicating in relation to emotions.
- capacity to give and receive feedback.
- Self-awareness and capacity to assess their skills and knowledge.
- capacity to analyse complex situations and relationships.
- capacity to analyse complex situations and relationships.
Additional Class Delivery Information Each course session consists of two parts, a theoretical knowledge activity, usually an interactive lecture plus some group/personal work on the topic, followed by a practice skills session. For the first 4 sessions, the two practitioner groups take the theory classes separately, with the dementia practitioners learning about counselling and the counselling practitioners learning about dementia. For the remainder of the sessions, both groups of practitioners learn together. The listening practice groups are mixed, enabling each group of practitioners to work together on the development of their therapeutic skills in this area.

In the theory classes of the first series of sessions, the counselling practitioners cover: core knowledge related to dementia, including symptoms, trajectory, prevalence, cognitive impairment, diagnosis and treatment; experiences of loss and change for people with dementia and their families/carers.

In the same sessions, the dementia practitioners cover: core counselling skills and the core conditions, non-directive therapeutic listening, theories of transition and loss, and the therapeutic process and relationship.

For the remainder of the sessions, both groups together cover the particular therapeutic tasks associated with early dementia: challenges to personal identity, adapting to changing roles and relationships in the family and wider society, facing an uncertain future, embracing and coping with social stigma, creating a new social identity, exploring the possibility of life as normal, finding a way through the healthcare system.

Students will also address the needs of practitioners working in the dementia field, including the emotional impact of this work and strategies for self-care and ongoing support and supervision.
KeywordsCounselling Dementia
Course organiserMr Seamus Prior
Tel: (0131 6)51 6599
Course secretaryMiss Sue Larsen
Tel: (0131 6)51 6671
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