Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit aims to address three key challenges in exercise physiology: how can practitioners use evidence-based strategies to promote adherence to their prescriptions; how do they respond to the unique needs and stages of change for different clients; and how do they play a role in the management of mental health within their scope of ethical practice. This is consistent with the professional standards for Accredited Exercise Physiologists. This unit aims to provide students with concrete, evidence-based skills and strategies for promoting adherence to exercise prescriptions. These include theory and research-driven interventions for evoking motivation for change, for enhancing commitment to programs, and for multidisciplinary management of mental health concerns.

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.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Demonstrate skills in motivational interviewing to evoke motivation from clients who are ambivalent (GA1, GA3, GA5, GA7, GA9) 

LO2 - Design evidence-based programs that promote adherence for clients with a range of clinical conditions (GA5, GA8, GA9) 

LO3 - Create evidence-based recommendations for multidisciplinary treatment of mental health conditions, with specific attention to exercise prescription (GA1, GA3, GA5, GA7, GA9) 

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Topics will include: 

  1. Evidence-based practice 
  2. Motivational interviewing 
  3. Behaviour change techniques 
  4. Understanding and referral of mental health concerns 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Learning and teaching strategies have been designed to give graduates long-term retention of skills, useful in professional contexts. Initial transmission of core content is available through web-based learning to allow students flexibility and easy revision. Workshops contain active learning, case-based learning, cooperative learning to provide opportunities for constructive feedback on practical skills. They also contain opportunities for simulated learning with reflective/critical thinking activities to foster the development of professional skills. Content is delivered over 12 weeks for spaced practice. Learning and teaching strategies will reflect respect for the individual as an independent adult learner. Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively within group activities.

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to best enable students to achieve unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes, standards-based assessment is utilised, consistent with University assessment requirements. A range of assessment strategies are used. An audio-visual task is used to assess the application and delivery of motivational interviewing skills, because the clinical skills for learning objective 1 are best observed, and video allows for more useful student reflection and staff feedback. A written report is used to assess application of behaviour change techniques to exercise prescription for clinical cases. This format was chosen because a significant part of the professional requirements of an Exercise Physiologist involves drafting exercise programs for client use, and a written justification allows the student to demonstrate how the program aligns with best-practice evidence (as per learning objective 2). Finally, a practical examination is used to assess student competence in management of mental-health conditions. This practical examination allows for the assessment of all three learning outcomes by requiring students to assess a client, write a program, and provide recommendations for multidisciplinary treatment—core outcomes of learning objective 3. The interpersonal section of this assessment is a hurdle because successfully meeting interpersonal competencies is required for completion of the unit. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

1. Motivational Interviewing Demonstration Video 

Enables students demonstrate their practical and critical skills around managing ambivalence in clients 



GA1, GA3, GA5, GA7, GA9 

2. Behaviour Change Technique Case Study 

Enables students to prepare a report for a client with evidence based justifications of their decisions 



GA1, GA5, GA8, GA9 

3. Assessment and Treatment Planning of Mental Health Disorders, Structured Clinical Examination 

Enables students demonstrate practical competencies in assessing, referring and treatment-planning for mental health conditions 


+ Hurdle component




GA1, GA3, GA5, GA7, GA9 

Representative texts and references

Fibbins, H., Lederman, O., Morell, R., Furzer, B., Wright, K., & Stanton, R. (2019). Incorporating exercise professionals in mental health settings: An Australian perspective. Journal of Clinical Exercise Physiology8(1), 21–25. doi: 10.31189/2165-6193-8.1.21 

Hunsley, J., & Di Giulio, G. (2002). Dodo bird, phoenix, or urban legend? The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice, 1(1), 11-22. Retrieved from 

Michie, S., Abraham, C., Whittington, C., McAteer, J., & Gupta, S. (2009). Effective techniques in healthy eating and physical activity interventions: A meta-regression. Health Psychology, 28(6), 690-701. doi:10.1037/a0016136 

Ng, J. Y., Ntoumanis, N., Thøgersen-Ntoumani, C., Deci, E. L., Ryan, R. M., Duda, J. L., & Williams, G. C. (2012). Self-determination theory applied to health contexts: A meta-analysis. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7(4), 325-340. doi:10.1177/1745691612447309 

Rollnick, S., Miller, W. R., & Butler, C. C. (2008). Motivational interviewing in health care: Helping patients change behavior. New York: Guilford. 

Stathopoulou, G., Powers, M. B., Berry, A. C., Smits, J. A. J., & Otto, M. W. (2006). Exercise interventions for mental health: A quantitative and qualitative review. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 13(2), 179-193. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2850.2006.00021.x  

Stubbs, B., & Rosenbaum, S. (2018). Exercise-Based Interventions for Mental Illness: Physical Activity as Part of Clinical Treatment. London: Academic Press. 

Stubbs, B., Vancampfort, D., Hallgren, M., Firth, J., Veronese, N., Solmi, M., … Kahl, K. G. (2018). EPA guidance on physical activity as a treatment for severe mental illness: a meta-review of the evidence and Position Statement from the European Psychiatric Association (EPA), supported by the International Organization of Physical Therapists in Mental Health (IOPTMH). European Psychiatry: The Journal of the Association of European Psychiatrists54, 124–144. doi: 10.1016/j.eurpsy.2018.07.004 

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