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  • Semester 2Campus Attendance
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  • Semester 2Campus Attendance


PSYC621 Professional Practice in Psychology PSYC630 Psychological Assessment

Unit rationale, description and aim

The practice of clinical psychology requires an in-depth and critical understanding and application of the principles and methods of psychological diagnosis, assessment, formulation and intervention of psychological disorders. This unit covers the critical examination of assessment tools, major diagnostic systems, and evidence-based clinical interventions, to reliably assess, diagnose and treat common psychological disorders of childhood and adolescence. Students will acquire knowledge of assessment and intervention skills with a particular focus on evidence-based assessment, formulation and intervention for psychological disorders in childhood and adolescence. The aim is to provide students with essential knowledge and practical skills to support their clinical work with children and adolescents with psychological disorders.

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 the diagnostic criteria, aetiological factors, assessment methods, and empirically validated treatments for psychological disorders typically seen in children and adolescentsGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11, GC12
LO2Explain the link between diagnosis, formulation and intervention plans, goals and strategies for disorders typically seen in children and adolescentsGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC9, GC11
LO3Apply clinical skills to conduct assessments and identify, select, implement and evaluate a range of empirically validated treatments for disorders typically seen in children and adolescentsGC1, GC2, GC3, GC5, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11, GC12


Topics will include: 

  • Relevant international taxonomies of classification of psychological disorders typically seen in childhood and adolescence including severe, complex and chronic mental illness  
  • Psychological theories of the aetiology, progression and/or recovery, precursors and sequelae of psychological disorders typically seen in childhood and adolescence, including incidence, prevalence and predisposing, risk, protective and maintenance factors,  
  • Clinical assessments and diagnosis of severe psychological disorders and disorders typically seen in childhood and adolescence 
  • Identifying, selecting and implementing a range of evidence-based treatments for severe psychological disorders and disorders typically seen in childhood and adolescence 
  • Demonstrating the relationship between assessment, diagnosis, formulation and intervention plans, goals and strategies 
  • Cultural influences on diagnosis, assessment and intervention with children and adolescents and their families, with a particular focus on Australian Indigenous communities, including: 
  • selection, tailoring and implementation of appropriate evidence-based interventions on the basis of an initial case formulation, whether individuals, dyads or carers/dependents 
  • monitoring of outcomes and modifications based on evolving case formulation and intra- and interpersonal processes, with care given to the appropriateness of interventions for the client or clients within their wider context  
  • consultation and collaboration with other professionals regarding clinical planning and referrals, particularly in the context of complex case presentations  
  • evidence-based practice in the understanding and management of psychological disorders, including across the age range and across modalities such as e-health approaches 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Postgraduate students in psychology are expected to be independent learners; this is reflected in an approach which puts students at the centre of their learning through participation in discussions. This unit therefore uses an active learning approach presented through a combination of lectures, workshop, and web-based learning delivered in face-to-face mode with 3.5 contact hours per week. Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively within class activities. Learning and teaching strategies used in lectures and workshops include case-based learning, demonstrations, role plays, web-based learning, and reflective/critical thinking activities. Lectures and demonstrations are structured to deliver essential content, while workshops and role plays provide students with opportunities to practice and discuss assessment and intervention strategies. Web-based learning and reflective/critical thinking activities will enhance learning and provide opportunities for students to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively. This range of strategies will provide students with appropriate access to required knowledge and understanding of unit content, and opportunities for development of competency in clinical child and adolescent psychology.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment strategy for this unit allows students to collaborate with each other and demonstrate their acquisition and critical application of evidence-based assessment and intervention skills. The written assignment is designed to assess students’ ability to critically analyse and synthesize information relevant to diagnosis, assessment and formulation of a psychological disorder in childhood and adolescence. The skills demonstration is designed to assess students’ ability to develop a treatment plan and demonstrate their therapeutic skills. The exam is designed to assess students’ knowledge in assessment and diagnosis of psychological disorders in children and adolescents.  Students must pass all assessment tasks in order to pass the unit as it is critical that students demonstrate an appropriate level of knowledge and skills related to diagnosis, assessment, formulation and intervention in children which is essential to the practice of clinical psychology. A failure in any of these tasks is likely to translate to an unacceptable level of risk to clients the student will come into contact with on subsequent practicums.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes


Requires students to demonstrate their knowledge in assessment and diagnosis of psychological disorders in children and adolescents.



Written Assignment:  

To assess students’ ability to critically evaluate and integrate the literature on evidence based assessment and diagnoses


LO1, LO2

Skills demonstration:  

Requires students to demonstrate their competencies in specific intervention strategies


LO1, LO3

Representative texts and references

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th  ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Carr, A. (2016). The handbook of child and adolescent clinical psychology: A contextual approach. (3rd ed.). Abington, UK: Routledge.

Cooper, J. O., Herron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2007). Applied behavior analysis (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Dudgeon, P. (2000). Woking with Indigenous Australians: A handbook for psychologists.  Gunada Press, Curtin Indigenous Research Centre, Curtin University of Technology.

Purdie, N., Dudgeon, P., & Walker R. (Eds.). (2010). Working Together: Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander mental health and wellbeing principles and practice. Melbourne:


World Health Organisation (1990). International statistical classification of diseases and related health problems 10th revision. Resources.

Journal Series: Clinical Case Studies. Sage Publications

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