Master of Arts in Counselling & Community Work

The Master of Arts in Counselling & Community Work is among the first of faith-based programmes in Asia that offer a unique integration of theology, counselling, psychology, and community work. With an emphasis in practice, the programme equips students with theoretical knowledge and skills in counselling and community work implementation and evaluation. Students are well-placed to integrate their faith and spirituality into their counselling and community work practice to bring healing and wholeness to individuals, families, and communities.

The core modules of the Master of Arts in Counselling and Community Work meet the requirements of the Singapore Association for Counselling (SAC) and the International Registry of Counsellor Education Programmes (IRCEP).

Graduates from the programme will be competent to manage counselling cases involving individuals as well as families. They will also be exposed to working with the needy and the vulnerable in the community so as to empower them to build a better quality of life within the community. These are equipped to strategically lead:

  • to care for lives with love and compassion
  • to provide professional counselling to enhance the mental and emotional health of individuals
  • to have a community perspective to serve the needy, vulnerable, and marginalised in society
  • to reflect and critique issues in the community with a view to provide solutions for impact


In general, admission to the Asian Pastoral Institute is based upon Christian faith and experience, as well as academic record. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree with Grade Point Average (GPA) of minimally 2.7 out of 4, or its equivalent. Applicants would arrange to have their references submit two Forms of Reference directly to the Registrar. The two references can come from a pastor/church elder, Christian leader, employer and/or academic lecturer who have known the applicants for at least one year. If an applicant does not meet the minimum academic requirements, the applicant may be considered for probationary or special admission on the merits of the case.


The Master of Arts in Counselling & Community Work is a 94-credit programme taught over two years. Students will register for two taught modules per quarter.


This subject enhances the students’ understanding of human development in relation to the biopsychosocial and spiritual factors which influence growth and changes over the lifespan. Students will be introduced to developmental themes across different life stages and understand its relevance for counselling practice and faith-based perspectives. They will also gain skills in using questioning and interviewing techniques to assess the developmental background of a person during counselling sessions.


This subject aims to equip students with essential counselling skills and useful strategies, with the consideration of the Christian context. The developmental counselling approach which combines developmental and ecological approaches will be introduced. Students will learn to apply major developmental theories, such as Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory and Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Framework in their assessment and intervention in the counselling process. Through regular practice, students will be familiar with the essential counselling skills and apply them in the counselling and ministry contexts.


This subject aims to introduce students to a proper approach to writing academic research papers. Topics covered include the use of reference tools, identification of research issues and organisation of materials. Students will also learn to formulate thesis statements and develop relevant supporting arguments.


This subject covers principles and issues of professionalism and ethics in counselling to develop counsellors to become ethically responsible in professional practice. They will familiarise themselves with the Singapore Association for Counselling (SAC) Code of Ethics and expose to American Association of Christian Counsellors (AACC) Code of Ethics. They will also be given introductions or references to other professional ethical codes, such as those from the Singapore Psychological Society (SPS), Singapore Association of Social Workers (SASW), American Counseling Association (ACA), and the American Psychological Association (APA) Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. Students will be introduced to ethical principles, professional guidelines, ethical decision-making models, and issues pertaining to specific client groups and context. They will also explore ethical issues specific to counselling in diverse spiritual and cultural contexts.


This subject introduces students to tools for assessments and advanced counselling skills. Students will get first-hand experiences of using a variety of assessment tools, such as Mental State Examination, Religious Status Interview, and suicide risk assessments to inform their assessment and formulation of cases. The module also covers several clinical interventions such as cognitive, behavioural, and emotion-focused approaches for treatment planning. Case studies, roleplays, and spiritual considerations for assessments and interventions are core features of this subject.


This subject helps students to understand the theoretical perspective of marriage and family and gives the theological perspectives on the various topics. It also provides concept of marriage and family life from the developmental perspective. Using Family Systems Theory and Family Life Cycle Theory, students will understand how family dynamics impact the growth and development of an individual. Topics studied include traits of a healthy marriage, communication, conflict resolution, gender roles within a marriage, phases and styles of parenting, roles and goals of parents and the importance of sex education for children and possible threats to the family. These topics will be underpinned by spiritual and theological understandings.


This subject introduces students to the central theories that have shaped contemporary counselling and therapeutic practice. The history and unique contributions from four theoretical branches are surveyed: Freudian and post-Freudian psychodynamic theories; Jungian analytical psychological theory; behavioural and cognitive-behavioural theories; and humanistic and existential theories. Christian theological perspectives will be used to critically evaluate such psychological ideas. Overall, the course has a strong applied focus where students will learn to formulate cases from various theoretical positions.


Students will be introduced to the theories and practices of group counselling. They will learn about group dynamics, group processes and the different types of group work in counselling. Students will learn skills to conduct group counselling and practice group facilitation skills. Theological discussions will be applied to question the process and practice of group counselling.


This subject provides students with the knowledge and skills in the conceptualisation and operationalisation of research. They will also acquire ‘hands-on’ skills in the use of different research methods so as to learn the principles of research design and apply them in the design of a research project during the course. Topics covered include conducting a literature review, formulating research questions, sampling, data collection and analysis. Critical appreciation of other research, ethical research practice and research considerations from theological and spiritual perspectives will also be discussed.


This subject provides students with an understanding of action research with the opportunity to develop and implement a change programme to bring improvements to a community. The basis in which to bring improvements to a community is aligned with the biblical principle of ‘loving our neighbours’. Action research involves stakeholders or our ‘neighbours’ in the community to address their practical concerns. As such, community knowledge provides key insights into the understanding and addressing of community issues. Students are also expected to grow in their reflection and reflexivity through their learning and actions.


This course provides students with the knowledge and skills in effecting changes in the community through efforts such as community organising, community building, and advocacy. The aim of these changes is to facilitate the meeting of community needs and/or to improve the quality of life. Students will develop a critical understanding of the concept of community, the nature of community work, and the relevance of these to contemporary societies and social welfare practice. At the ground level, students will be introduced to significant community resources in helping the community such as government-funded social service agencies and voluntary welfare organisations. Topics covered include appreciating the concept of community and community work practice, reviewing the common theories and models in understanding community, community assessment, and community mapping. The theological basis of community work practice will also be discussed.


Core topics in social psychology are offered to provide students with a framework to understand how people and their social environments interact. Such interaction can influence perceptions and attitudes towards self and others, as well as shape social cognition and social behaviour. Prevailing social psychology theories on topics such as attitudes, social perception, interpersonal attraction, prosocial behaviour, and aggression will be covered. These theories will give students a good theoretical foundation to understand how different social processes influence human thoughts and behaviour. Throughout the course, students will gain insights into the theological and spiritual perspectives of these social processes.


In this module, students will learn about common types of crisis and trauma that people may encounter, and the impact of crisis and trauma, in three levels: individual, interpersonal and community. Students will become familiar with the range of skills and strategies employed in crisis and trauma counselling such as risk assessment and planning, de-escalation of intense emotions and trauma-focused interventions. This module also provides students with theological and spiritual perspectives of crisis and trauma. The precautions for counsellors working in crisis and trauma cases will also be discussed.


This subject provides an overview on the assessment and treatment of psychological disorders commonly occurring in childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age. The course aims to equip students with the foundational knowledge of the aetiology, causes and treatments of various psychological disorders. It also seeks to give students an in-depth understanding of the psychological disorders from medical, developmental, and faith-based perspectives. The psychological disorders covered are based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – 5th Edition (DSM-5).


The programme culminates in a thesis which carries 8 credits. The word length is a minimum of 15,000 words and a maximum of 20,000 words (60-80 page length), excluding bibliography, double-spaced, Times New Roman, and font size 12.


The programme offers an extensive 30 credits (300 hours) of practicums to serve as platforms for students to integrate and apply their knowledge and skills in clinical settings. Furthermore, these practicums serve to increase students’ clinical competency and cultivate confidence in their clinical practice. The practicums aim to develop students’ professional capacity as a counsellor, guided by the theoretical knowledge and professional ethics gained in their classroom learning. Students have extensive opportunity to apply counselling theories and techniques in a one-to-one counselling context during their attachments with an approved social service agency. They will also be attached to an agency to perform community work and learn to identify, evaluate, and create or enhance community programmes that will better serve the needs of the community.


Students are required to fulfil practicum requirements of 300 hours in total. The practicums are divided into two components: 1) Counselling, and 2) Community Work spread over the entire programme. The counselling practicum which consists of 160 hours, including supervision, will be undertaken at either API Care and Counselling Centre or an approved social service agency. In addition, students will engage in community work practicum that consists of 140 hours, including supervision.

Counselling practicum focuses on building students’ practical knowledge in performing intake interviews and conducting counselling sessions. Students would be able to apply and integrate counselling theories in assessment, case conceptualisation, and to formulate and implement appropriate interventions for the benefit of clients, with guidance from their clinical supervisors.

Community work practicum is where students learn to understand the services and programmes of a social service agency in its effort to meet the needs of its community. Students will be attached to the social service agency to participate in its community activities and projects. During the process, students will apply learnings from the Community Work Practice module and build practical knowledge on how to better meet the needs of the community. Besides community assessments, and intervention programme development, implementation and evaluation, students will also be collecting data during this attachment for their research thesis.

Personal Therapy

In addition, students are required to go through 8 sessions of personal therapy during the course. The purpose of the therapy is to help students identify and address issues that may affect their practice as a counsellor and prepare them towards becoming a more effective counsellor.

Graduation Requirements

The Master of Arts in Counselling and Community Work is a 94-credit programme. Students would be awarded a Master of Arts in Counselling and Community Work if they

  • successfully complete 14 taught modules and thesis writing with a GPA of minimally 2.7 out of 4
  • fulfill all requirements of the 160 hours of counselling practicum and 140 hours of community work practicum
  • fulfill all requirements of clinical supervision and group supervision
  • fulfill all requirements of personal therapy
  • demonstrate a godly character, integrity, and discipline in guided supervision
  • fulfill all requirements within the maximum candidature of six years

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