Credit points


Campus offering

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  • Term Mode
  • ACU Term 1Online Unscheduled
  • ACU Term 3Online Unscheduled



Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Best practice in mental health care delivery must reflect a team approach that is holistic, culturally safe and recovery-oriented to assessment, care planning, implementation and evaluation. This is inclusive of the individual, their family / group and their community. This approach to care delivery supports the individual in their recovery journey and assists them in achieving a fulfilling life as determined by the person themselves, within their already existent relationships and social networks.

The focus of the unit is on assessment of individual care needs, care planning and care implementation using a person-centred approach. Students will explore how the therapeutic relationship forms the basis of a collaborative approach to assessment and care planning with individuals. This learning will be applied to their practice in working with the individual, their carers, families and other members of the multidisciplinary team.

The aim of this unit is to prepare students to provide culturally safe, holistic recovery-oriented care for people experiencing a mental illness in a variety of clinical settings.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Describe how a holistic person-centered approach to practice is integrated in a coordinated care model that protects the individual’s rights, respects diversity and promotes recoveryGC1, GC2, GC5, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11
LO2Explain how the therapeutic relationship is central to providing care that is respectful of the individual’s choice, experience and circumstances and is based on critical reflection/analysis with the individual ensuring their preferences and self-determination requirementsGC1, GC2, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11
LO3Utilise a range of communication skills to establish and maintain therapeutic relationships in order to undertake appropriate holistic assessments to deliver culturally safe, holistic, suitable evidence-based therapeutic interventions for individuals requiring mental health care and support their families/carers, significant others and/or key people involved in their care.GC1, GC2, GC5, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC9
LO4Critically reflect on the impact of integrating a holistic person-centered approach to practice toward creating strategies that facilitate the individual’s personal recovery and contribute to the common goodGC1, GC2, GC3, GC5, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11


Topics will include:

 Holistic Care

  • Theoretical Concepts
  • Paradigms of holistic practice

Holistic assessment and management

  • Common mental health alterations and disorders and related pathophysiology
  • Biopsychosocial assessment, intervention and evaluation
  • Psychopharmacology and individual preferences
  • Applying the principles of recovery to individual service plans (ISP) advanced directives, and wellness recovery action plans (WRAP)
  • Plan culturally safe care that takes account the unique preferences, choices and expectations of mental health care of the individual, their family/carers and significant others
  • Apply a person-centered approach to care that acknowledges diversity (e.g., neurotypical consumers, LGBTIQ+, Indigenous persons, CALD etc.)
  • Life span approaches to holistic assessment and management 

 Advanced therapeutic communication

  • Principles of therapeutic communication
  • Engagement
  • Counselling

 Communication skills for identifying and facilitating change in health behaviour

  • Motivational interviewing
  • Mindfulness

Evidence informed therapies

  • Brief Individual and Family therapy
  • Dialectical Behaviour Therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

ACU Online

This unit uses an active learning approach to support students in the exploration of knowledge essential to the discipline. Students are provided with choice and variety in how they learn. Students are encouraged to contribute to asynchronous weekly discussions. Active learning opportunities provide students with opportunities to practice and apply their learning in situations similar to their future professions. Activities encourage students to bring their own examples to demonstrate understanding and application, and to engage constructively with their peers. Students receive regular and timely feedback on their learning, which includes information on their progress.

Through an online learning platform, students will have the opportunity to reflect on the complexity of applying recovery-oriented principles in their practice, explore and consider different types of appropriate holistic assessments and therapeutic interventions, theories of recovery and holism in mental health practice, concepts of collaboration and partnership that is inclusive of the individual, their family group and their community. In constructing knowledge about individual care needs, care planning and care implementation, students will evaluate different strategies that are both safe and conducive to quality recovery-oriented mental health care.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment strategy used allows for the progressive development of knowledge and skills necessary for the student to be able to utilise a holistic person-centered and recovery oriented approach in mental health practice in a variety of clinical settings.

As postgraduate students who are already health practitioners, students will have varying experiences in assessment, care planning and implementing mental health care. The assessment tasks have been designed to enable students to demonstrate achievement of learning outcomes, successful completion of a portfolio demonstrating clinical competence in undertaking biopsychosocial assessments and implementing a range of therapeutic interventions within the mental health care field. The critical reflection will allow students to bring together their learning across the semester of study and show how they have developed their practice through reflecting on pivotal learning experiences.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment Task 1: Written Assessment  

Provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge of the theories underpinning their clinical practice.


LO1, LO2, LO3

Assessment Task 2: Critical Reflection  

This provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate knowledge and critical reflection of biopsychosocial assessments and a range of therapeutic interventions utilised in mental health care over the course of the semester.



Representative texts and references

American Psychiatric Association (2022). The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5, Text Revision. American Psychiatric Association: Washington DC.

Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (2022). Person-centred care. Retrieved from

Australian Institute of Health & Welfare (2022). Physical health of people with mental illness. Retrieved from

Hercelinskjy, G. & Alexander, L. (2022). Mental health nursing: applying theory to practice, revised ed. Cengage: Singapore. 

Meadows, G., Farhall, J., Fossey, E., Happell, B., McDermot, F. & Rosenberg, S. (2020). Mental health and collaborative community practice: An Australian perspective (4th ed). Oxford University Press. 

Morup Langberg, E., Dyhr, L. & Davidsen, A.S. (2019). Development of the concept of patient-centredness – A systematic review. Patient Education and Counselling, 102(7); 1228-1236. Doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2019.02.023.

National Disability Practitioners (2022). What is a person centred approach? Retrieved from

Parliament of Australia (2022). Person centred practice approach. Life Without Borders. Retrieved from

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (2023). Physical health and mental illness. Retrieved from

Stein-Parbury, J. (2021). Patient & person: Interpersonal skills in nursing 7th ed. Elsevier.


*Search for your jurisdictions Mental Health Act to explore how person-centred approaches are incorporated into legislation

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