Welcome, Teachers and Learners

Sandra Collins

Welcome to this open source resource for teachers and learners. This guide provides a variety of experiential learning activities focused on the culturally responsive and socially just counselling model and practices. The purpose of this teaching and learning guide is threefold:

  1. to provide learning activities (self-study, partner activities, and group activities) as well as discussion questions or prompts, which are easily incorporated into graduate and undergraduate courses, either online or in face-to-face contexts, for learners or course instructors who are teaching in the areas of multicultural counselling and socially justice practice;
  2. to support students in their competency development as professional counsellors or other healthcare practitioners who will work with clients from diverse cultural backgrounds and who will be accountable to professional standards for ethical, culturally responsive, and socially just practice; and
  3. to encourage existing practitioners to assess and enhance their current levels of cultural competence, or to respond to known challenges or deficits by focusing on learning activities related to particular competencies or key concepts.

Although this guide is a reflection of my years of teaching, researching, and practicing in this area, I see myself as a learner rather than an expert in culturally responsive and socially just counselling. I assume that whatever your role is when you access this resource (i.e., course instructor, student, practicing counsellor, or curious reader), you are also coming as a learner. My goal for all users of this teaching and learning guide is for you to enhance your knowledge, attitudes, and skills related to a series of important key concepts in multicultural counselling. My hope is that completing the diverse activities in this guide will enhance your commitment to, and competency for, ethical and socially just practice.

The chapters in this guide have been organized according to the culturally responsive and socially just (CRSJ) counselling model, which I describe in the next section of this guide. This teaching and learning guide may function as a stand-alone resource to support teachers and learners interested in culturally responsive and socially just counselling practices. However, it has been designed specifically as a companion manual to the Collins (2018) e-text, Embracing cultural responsivity and social justice: Re-shaping professional identity in counselling psychology, which provides the theoretical and conceptual framework, detailed definitions for each key term, practice examples, and case studies to support the learning activities in this guide. If you are not using the Collins (2018) e-text, you will need to provide readings and instruction related to each of the key concepts (e.g., marginalization, decolonization, loss of cultural identity and relationality) prior to assigning learning activities from this guide. The teaching and learning guide is intended as a supplement, rather than as a replacement for a text or set of readings from the professional literature.

The Learning Activities

In my own interactions with students at Athabasca University and my research on teaching and learning (Brown, Collins, & Arthur, 2014; Collins, Arthur, Brown, & Kennedy, 2015), I have come to believe strongly in the importance of providing students with an interesting, engaging, and creative learning environment. Traditional models of education have tended to focus on reading textbooks or journal articles, reflecting on or discussing the ideas, and demonstrating learning through exams or essay type assignments. However, there is considerable evidence that students learn more effectively and enjoy their learning more fully when they are invited to engage in diverse learning activities that include creative, multimedia, interactive, applied practice, exploratory, arts-based, and self-reflective processes. This teaching and learning guide is designed with constructivist learning principles in mind. I assume that each set of learners brings a wealth of experience and a diversity of perspectives, and I have designed activities that encourage them to share in co-constructing knowledge with their peers. I also invite learners to bring themselves fully into the learning process by targeting affective, cognitive, and behavioural domains. Although the activities are designed to facilitate the development of particular attitudes and beliefs, knowledge, and skills related to multicultural counselling, there are no right answers. Instead, learners are introduced to, and practice, skills for critical thinking, cognitive complexity, cultural humility, and reflective practice, which all support competency development.

In this guide you will find a wide variety of learning activities. All of these activities have been designed for use in both online or traditional classroom settings. You can identify the audience for each learning activity by the colour-coding in the guide.

  • Activities in green textboxes are intended primarily for self-study.
  • Activities in orange textboxes are ideally completed as partner or group activities.
  • Activities in purple textboxes are intended as prompts for class discussions.

I have tried to be as creative as possible in developing these activities. You will find links within activities to YouTube, Ted Talks, and other videos. I have integrated existing open source resources from professional organizations and government websites, some of which provide interactive databases on various topics. I have also included audio files to alter the content delivery medium, both to keep learners engaged and also to respect different learning styles. I have focused on providing many applied practice examples and case studies to bring the concepts to life and to make transparent how these translate into counselling practice.


E-Book Navigation Tip

Although the key concepts in this teaching and learning guide are organized according to the competencies in the CRSJ Counselling Model, you can also search the list of key concepts in the Index of Key Concepts or you can use the search function on the upper right of your screen to find where in this e-book a particular concept related to cultural responsivity and social justice is elucidated.

Many of the learning activities have been designed specifically for courses in multicultural counselling; however, the CRSJ Counselling Model encompasses the counselling process broadly. There is considerable evidence that competency for culturally responsive and socially just practice is best accomplished through the infusion of this content throughout training programs, instead of within the more traditional single course design (Collins et al., 2015). There are also numerous activities in this teaching and learning guide that can easily be used or adapted for other courses in psychology, social work, and other health disciplines. In fact, I have drawn on activities from the counselling theories, research methods, working alliance, interventions, and ethics courses at Athabasca University in the creation of this guide. I invite you to consider how these types of learning activities might enhance other courses you are taking or teaching.


Gender-Neutral Language

You will notice that throughout the book I use gender-neutral language wherever possible and appropriate. In some cases, the contributors, or the clients with whom they engage, identify as cisgender or transgender and choose a particular singular or plural, gendered or gender-neutral pronoun. Unless the person being referenced has explicitly identified as male or female, I default to gender-neutral language by using they and them. Most dictionaries now recognize the third person plural as an acceptable use for third person singular in instances where gender is not known or is actively eschewed. For example, a client may express a particular need, which we then refer to as their need, and we invite them to expand on it further. Failure to use gender-neutral language or to address a person by their preferred pronoun is considered a form of microaggression in counselling (Singh & Dickey, 2017). Although I follow the professional writing standards of the American Psychological Association (2010) wherever possible, I diverge whenever equity and justice may be compromised.

An Evolving, Collaborative, and Open Source Project

This is an open source guide, and you are strongly encouraged to link to, copy, and repurpose these activities within the boundaries of the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike Creative Commons license. You must cite the author of a particular activity when you use this material, and you may not reproduce any of it for commercial purposes. The one exception to this is use in teaching and training activities (e.g., college and university courses, conference presentations, workplace training) that are not published as stand-alone, for-profit works. A direct link is included at the end of each activity for instructors who want to include them in syllabi, online courses, or other resources for their students.

Much of the content of this teaching and learning guide has been developed over the years as part of my role as a course coordinator in the Graduate Centre for Applied Psychology, Faculty of Health Disciplines (FHD), Athabasca University (AU). The FHD and AU are strongly committed to the creation of open source learning resources as a way of making knowledge accessible to all people and inviting collaborative co-construction of knowledge. Much of the content of this guide comes directly from existing courses in the Master of Counselling program in the FHD.

I have created many of the learning activities in this guide to assist my own students in grasping the key concepts in the CRSJ counselling model. I have collected others, over the years, as part of curriculum development projects. These have been contributed by other counsellor-educators, practitioners, and students in my graduate courses. Where applicable, these contributing authors are acknowledged within each learning activity. In some cases, their original contributions have been adapted for the purposes of this guide. Please see the Contributors list for further information.


Please Make a Contribution to this Teaching and Learning Guide

To make this resource even more open source, I invite you to critique the activities as part of the ongoing peer review of my work. If something can be reworded to be more effective or more culturally appropriate, please let me know. If you have an idea for extending an activity, email me. You will notice that not all of the concepts have corresponding activities at this point, some have only one related learning activity, and others have several. This guide is a work in progress. I am also choosing not to foreclose on this project by filling in all the blanks at the outset. I know that many of you reading this have developed your own creative ways of teaching and learning related to cultural responsivity and social justice in counselling. If you would like to contribute an activity to this guide, please contact me at sandrac@athabascau.ca.


American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Brown, C., Collins, S., & Arthur, N. (2014). Fostering Multicultural and Social Justice Competency Through Counsellor Education Pedagogy. Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy, 48, 321-342. Retrieved from http://cjc-rcc.ucalgary.ca/cjc/

Collins, S. (2018). Embracing cultural responsivity and social justice: Re-shaping professional identity in counselling psychology [Epub version]. Victoria, BC: Counselling Concepts. Retrieved from http://www.counsellingconcepts.ca

Collins, S., Arthur, N., Brown, C., & Kennedy, B. (2015). Student Perspectives: Graduate Education Facilitation of Multicultural Counseling and Social Justice Competency. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 9, 153-160. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/tep0000070

Singh, A., & Dickey, L. M. (2017). Introduction. In A. Singh & L. M. Dickey (Eds.). Affirmative counseling and psychological practice with transgender and gender nonconforming clients (pp. 3-18). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. http://doi.org/10.1037/14957-001

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