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  • Semester 1Campus Attendance
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  • Semester 1Campus Attendance



Unit rationale, description and aim

A key area in the practice of psychology involves being familiar with key treatment approaches and the ability to apply these approaches in combination with foundational interpersonal skills.

This unit will address the basic principles and key concepts that underpin psychological practice by examining key treatment approaches. As well as acquiring knowledge of the main treatment theories, students will be introduced to other important aspects of psychological practice such as ethical principles and working with diverse populations (including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and LGBTQIA+ populations). The characteristics of an effective practitioner are explored, with a corresponding development of insight into the self. Further, students will be introduced to the importance of foundation interpersonal skills in therapeutic practice.

The aim of this unit is to introduce the main aspects of being an effective practitioner whilst also developing practical interpersonal skills and self-reflection.

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 theoretical models of psychology practice and key interventionsGC1, GC3, GC9, GC11
LO2Relate the role of interpersonal skills in the therapy process to the core characteristics of a practicing psychologist and counsellorGC1, GC3, GC4, GC8, GC9, GC11, GC12
LO3Demonstrate foundation interpersonal skills relevant to psychology practice and constructive self-reflectionGC1, GC2, GC4, GC7, GC8, GC12
LO4Apply knowledge and skills of psychology in a manner that is reflexive and sensitive to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peopleGC1, GC2, GC4, GC5, GC6, GC7, GC8
LO5Develop culturally responsive, reflective, and ethical professional practice with a focus on its application to LGBTQIA+ populations, people with disabilities, and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse PopulationsGC1, GC2, GC4, GC6, GC7, GC8


Topics will include: 

  • Historical foundations of psychological practice.  
  • Professional and ethical issues in psychological practice
  • Ethics of working with specific populations including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, culturally and linguistically diverse populations, people living with disability and LGBTQIA+ populations.
  • Counselling micro-skills
  • Insight oriented therapies (Person-centered, Psychoanalytic and Gestalt) 
  • Action oriented therapies (Behavioural, cognitive behavioural, solution focused) 
  • Emerging therapies (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Narrative) 
  • Interpersonal skills and therapeutic practice  
  • Family and relationship interventions 
  • Interventions in drug and alcohol use 
  • Introduction to case management
  • Promotion and maintenance of mental health and wellbeing 
  • Reflective work for self-understanding and self-development 
  • Skills and considerations in working with specific populations including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, culturally and linguistically diverse populations, people living with disability and LGBTQIA+ populations.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit fosters student-centred active learning and accommodates diverse student needs. It includes a combination of self-paced, online learning and real-time classes. Early and additional feedback on learning, and tailored support, are provided to facilitate students’ transition to university. The online content and workshops are to aid students with the acquisition and understanding of knowledge covered in the unit, while the weekly tutorials are designed to enhance application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation of that knowledge. Active learning, case-based learning, individual and group activities, and cooperative learning are used to enhance discussion and engagement in the content covered in the unit.

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to successfully complete this unit, students must:

  • complete and submit all of the assessment tasks listed in the table below
  • obtain an aggregate mark of at least 50%
  • demonstrate achievement of each learning outcome

The assessment strategy for this unit allows students to demonstrate their acquisition of knowledge, as well as the application of that knowledge. In order to best enable students to demonstrate Learning Outcomes and develop Graduate Attributes, standards-based assessment is utilised, consistent with university assessment requirements. Students will be encouraged to reflect on their developing knowledge of key concepts and remain consistently engaged in content through weekly self-refection exercises. The personal essay will allow students to demonstrate their ability to apply their understanding of key theories, ethical principles and interpersonal skills through a process of self-reflection. Finally, the recall of key knowledge concepts is assessed via multiple-choice questions in the final exam.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment Task 1: Reflective Exercise

Enables students to describe and apply interpersonal skills and constructive self-reflection. 


LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

Assessment Task 2: Personal Essay

Enables students to describe a psychology intervention model and to apply this knowledge through a process of self-reflection.


LO1, LO3, LO5

Assessment Task 3: Final Exam 

Enables students to demonstrate their acquired knowledge and their ability to apply this knowledge to practical examples. 


LO1, LO2, LO4, LO5

Representative texts and references

Corey, G. (2020). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy (10th ed.). Cengage Learning.

Dudgeon, P., Milroy, H, & Walker, R. (Eds). (2014). Working together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing principles and practice (2nd ed.).

Geldard, D & Geldard, K. (2021). Chapters 5-8. Basic personal counselling: A training manual for counsellors. (9th ed.). Cengage Learning.

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