Community-based Counselling

The Master of Arts in Community-based Counselling is a full-time degree taken over 2 years.


The Master of Arts in Community-Based Counselling Psychology (MACC) degree is offered by the Department of Psychology in the School of Human and Community Development. It extends over not less than two academic years of full-time study. It comprises two parts:

Part 1: During the first year, (M1) students complete the coursework component and the research report. The coursework component consists of a theoretical and practical programme that is run by the Department and School of Human and Community Development.

Part 2: The second part (usually the second year or M2) of the degree involves a counseling internship of twelve months duration, at an internship site approved by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).


First Year: M1

The MACC first year of training will comprise 5 core modules. These are:

  • Counselling and Psychotherapy
  • Assessment
  • Research
  • Psychopathology in Context
  • Community Psychology

The broad objective of the first year is to provide training in psychological assessment, therapeutic skills, diagnostic capabilities, and community psychology, necessary to understand, diagnose and provide interventions (under supervision) for the personal, interpersonal and social problems in living that many people struggle with.

The activities you will be involved in during the M1 year include the following:

  • Attending formal didactic seminars/workshops.
  • Attending case conferences and presenting casework.
  • Reading and learning prescribed and recommended literature, and discussing this in the relevant forums.
  • Gaining familiarity with various assessment instruments, their scoring and interpretation.
  • Assessing clients and communities and making management decisions based on your assessments.
  • Providing a therapeutic service to appropriate clients.
  • Writing and filing case notes of therapy sessions.
  • Writing essays, assignments and reports.
  • Writing up and formally presenting a psychotherapy case study.
  • Sitting written/oral examinations.
  • Attending individual and group supervision of assessment/therapy cases.
  • Receiving and responding to performance appraisal feedback.
  • Attending your own personal psychotherapy.
  • Finding an appropriate research topic and submitting a research proposal.
  • Consulting your research supervisor on a regular basis.
  • Interacting formally/informally with other class members.
  • Discharging limited administrative responsibilities assigned to you.


Seminars in Professional Psychology (SPP) is a coordinated programme which combines the resources of Clinical Psychology, Community-Based Counselling Psychology and Educational Psychology. Trainee-psychologists from each of these programmes come together for a variety of seminars and workshops in the areas of psychotherapy, psychological assessment and research. The incorporation of a joint seminar programme within each specific training programme has many advantages. For example:

  • Trainee psychologists have the opportunity to interact with and learn from, students in another sub-discipline
  • Trainee psychologists are exposed to a variety of staff members with different specializations, different training backgrounds and different ways of working in the area of psychological assessment
  • SPP facilitates communication and enrichment between the different sub-disciplines.
  • SPP encourages professionalism within and between trainee psychologists in each of the sub-disciplines.
  • SPP offers a structure able to provide some of the core skills necessary for any practising psychologist, while at the same time reflecting the specializations of each Master's training programme.

SPP provides a forum for three different purposes:

  • to offer high-quality seminars to Masters students in professional training
  • to offer a forum for staff to come together around shared professional activities and concerns
  • to share information and resources from the Emthonjeni Clinic. This clinic manages client referrals and cases seen and has been incorporated into the Emthonjeni Centre since 2007.

The module structure is designed to reflect the links between and integrations of specific programmes while at the same time emphasizing each programme’s specific areas of specialization. The  Assessment modules have both SPP and programme-specific input. This means that trainee psychologists will attend seminars within their own area of specialization as well as with students from other sub-disciplines. The Research component will be SPP-based.

The Research Report

A central requirement for the degree is a research report which presents research in an area related to community and counselling psychology. Students will begin in early February with seminars on research methodology and be given several weeks in which to begin planning appropriate research. Each student will be assigned a supervisor, who will help the student to prepare a research proposal for approval by the Department and by the Faculty of Humanities. The student will then conduct the research. The final research report should be approximately 30 000 words in length. Students will be informed of the procedures and processes they will be expected to adhere to.

Internship: M2

Intern Psychologists will be supervised by staff at approved internship centres that have been registered for at least three years in the “Counselling” category. The internship programme will encompass supervised training in the following areas: individual, group and family counselling including play therapy, trauma counselling and marital/couples counselling; psychological assessments for career guidance, educational, psychotherapeutic, diagnostic and community intervention purposes; psycho-education training and life-skills facilitation; ethical issues and professional responsibilities; implementation and evaluation of community-based intervention projects. The current internship sites include the Trauma Clinic of the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR), Epworth Children’s Home, Counselling & Career Development Unit (CCDU)/Wits University, Khanya Family Centre (Tembisa), Adult and Child Guidance Clinic (UJ) Rahima Moosa Hospital Complex, Ububele and several others placement opportunities.

Quarterly evaluation reports will be compiled for each intern by supervising psychologists and may be submitted to the Professional Board for Psychology.

Entry Requirements

  • Please submit your Postgraduate Admission Form to the student enrolment centre online Click Here
  • Please complete your Masters in Community-Based Counselling Psychology application form.
  • Kindly ask two referees to provide you with references. Click here to download the form.

Lastly, the online equity questionnaire will be completed only by shortlisted applicants: the details will be communicated once shortlist is concluded.

NB: Incomplete or late application forms will not be accepted, nor applications sent to the Faculty.

Application Closing Date: 29 May 2023

Dates for selection week: 31 July 2023 – 4 August 2023

The selection of candidates is carried out by a Selection Panel. The Selection Panel is made up of the MACC teaching staff, representatives from the School of Human and Community Development, and representatives from the internship training centres. The Selection Panel is sanctioned by and reports to the Selection Committee of the School of Human and Community Development, as well as to the Head of Department and Head of School:

  • Initial “Paper” Screening: The Selection Panel screens all applications with regard to their academic suitability. An overall mark of 65% in the Honours degree is considered a minimum pre-requisite by the Faculty. However, it is not uncommon for the Department to offer interviews only to those applicants who have obtained an Upper Second for their Honours degree. Applicants whose marks are low, who have unfavourable referee reports, and whose stated motivation for wanting to study community and counselling psychology is poor, may be excluded.

  • Invitation to Selection Week: Successful applicants from this “paper” screening stage are invited to attend a five-day selection process, in which they will participate in a series of interviews and other selection procedures.

  • Selection Week: The Selection Panel evaluates candidates invited to Selection Week and a possible 12 candidates are chosen. Selection criteria include:
    • Strong academic record
      Community psychology experience and orientation
      Counselling experience
      Appropriate interpersonal skills
      Empathy and warmth
      Openness to learning
      The ability of the candidate to add diversity and value to the Masters class, in whatever form that may take
      Research competency

The Selection Panel will take all of these criteria into account and will be looking for all-round potential. The Selection Panel understands that the selection process is gruelling and endeavours to make the experience as constructive as possible. The process may comprise the following procedures:

  • Individual interviews: Applicants each have two interviews with two different pairs of interviewers from the Selection Panel. These interviewers independently rate candidates’ responses to questions on a numerical scale, and independently formulate an impression of candidates’ suitability for counselling training and community work.
  • Individual role-play: Applicants’ potential for engaging with people in a facilitative-therapeutic way is then assessed through a role-play exercise involving a simulated initial consultation with a “client”. The role-play is only about 10 minutes long. This exercise takes place in front of the selection members, who independently assess candidates’ performance.
  • Group exercise: Much of the counselling training takes place in groups and students have to conduct group and family therapy. For these reasons, candidates’ participation in a small group context will give some indication of how they respond to the demands of this type of engagement. They are allocated to a small group and given a task involving the free discussion of a particular topic, observed by Selection Panel members.
  • Final panel interview: Candidates may also be required to be interviewed by the entire Selection Panel in one final interview.Ratification by the Selection Committee of the School: Overall results are discussed by the Selection Panel, and twelve candidates are provisionally selected, while a number of applicants are wait-listed for inclusion should any of the first twelve not be able to take up their places on the programme. The names of those candidates chosen and wait-listed are referred to a special meeting of the Selection Committee of the School of Community and Human Development Selection Committee for scrutiny and ratification. Once this has occurred, applicants are notified as to whether their applications have been successful or not. 

Acceptance of candidates is provisional. In the case of applicants who do not yet have their Honours results at the time of selection but are provisionally accepted for the course, the confirmation of their acceptance will depend, in the first instance, on their Honours results. Additionally, the final confirmation of each candidate is dependent upon the submission of a suitable research proposal by April of the first year of training.

University Application Process

  • Applications are handled centrally by the Student Enrolment Centre (SEnC). Once your application is complete in terms of requested documentation, your application will be referred to the relevant School for assessment. Click here to see an overview of the Wits applications process.
  • Please apply online. Upload your supporting documents at the time of application, or via the Self Service Portal.
  • Applicants can monitor the progress of their applications via the Self Service Portal.
  • Selections for programmes that have a limited intake but attract a large number of applications may only finalise the application at the end of the application cycle.

Please note that the Entry Requirements are a guide. Meeting these requirements does not guarantee a place. Final selection is made subject to the availability of places, academic results and other entry requirements where applicable.

International students, please check this section.

For more information, contact the Student Call Centre +27 (0)11 717 1888, or log a query at

University Fees and Funding

Click here to see the current average tuition fees. The Fees site also provides information about the payment of fees and closing dates for fees payments. Once you have applied you will be able to access the fees estimator on the student self-service portal.

For information about postgraduate funding opportunities, including the postgraduate merit award, click here. Please also check your School website for bursary opportunities. NRF bursaries: The National Research Foundation (NRF) offers a wide range of opportunities in terms of bursaries and fellowships to students pursuing postgraduate studies. External bursaries portal: The Bursaries South Africa website provides a comprehensive list of bursaries in South Africa.