Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


PSYC630 Psychological Assessment ; PSYC632 Foundations of Practice; PSYC638 Therapeutic Skills ; PSYC640 Diagnosis, Assessment, Formulation and Intervention with Children; PSYC641 Diagnosis, Assessment, Formulation nd Intervention with Adults

Teaching organisation

2 hours per week for twelve weeks or equivalent.

Unit rationale, description and aim

The practice of clinical psychology is based on the scientist-practitioner model and as such, knowledge and critical analysis of empirically validated interventions is essential for evidence-based practice. This unit has two components that aim to provide students with further knowledge of other interventions relevant to clinical psychology.

The first component (Emerging Therapies) will focus on providing an introduction to the theory and practice of a transdiagnostic psychotherapeutic intervention that has emerging empirical evidence (eg Acceptance and Commitment Therapy). In this component, students will gain an understanding of the principles underlying the emerging therapy and will learn to develop formulations and treatment plans consistent with these principles. The second component (Psychopharmacology) will provide students with a basic understanding of empirically validated psychopharmacological treatments for psychological disorders. Students will also acquire knowledge of the basic principles of drug action and pharmacokinetics, and the common indications, contraindications and adverse effects of psychotropic medication. The aim of the unit is to ensure familiarity with the theoretical foundations and therapeutic techniques of ACT, and with the basic principles and applications of psychopharmacological treatment.

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 - Critically analyse and evaluate the theoretical principles underlying an emerging therapy for the treatment of psychological disorders (GA4, GA5, GA8) 

LO2 - Demonstrate skills in assessment, treatment planning, and intervention in the emerging therapy consistent with theoretical principles and empirical knowledge and to critically evaluate and integrate these into clinical practice (GA5) 

LO3 - Demonstrate the ability to synthesise and critically evaluate the empirical research literature pertaining to emerging therapies (GA8, GA9) 

LO4 - Demonstrate knowledge of, and the ability to critically evaluate the use of, psychotropic medications which are commonly prescribed in the treatment of psychological disorders (GA5, GA8) 

LO5 - Demonstrate understanding of the basic principles of drug action and pharmacokinetics, the common indications, contraindications, and adverse effects of psychotropic medication (GA4, GA8, GA9) 

Graduate attributes

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

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

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

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


Topics will include: 


Emerging Therapies 

  • Core concepts and theoretical principles  
  • Assessment and case formulation 
  • Treatment strategies 
  • Evaluating treatment outcomes 
  • Evaluating the empirical evidence 



  • Drug nomenclature, drug action, and pharmacokinetics 
  • Psychotropic medication for mood disorders 
  • Psychotropic medication for anxiety disorders  
  • Psychotropic medication for psychosis 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is taught face-to-face in lectures, seminars, and workshops. It has two delivery patterns: a standard full semester delivery pattern which is scheduled nationally; and an intensive delivery pattern which is scheduled off-shore. Teaching and learning strategies for both full semester and intensive delivery patterns may include lectures, workshops, web-based learning, and reflective/critical thinking activities. Teaching and learning strategies will reflect respect for the individual as an independent learner. Lectures are structured to deliver essential content whilst allowing students the opportunity to critically discuss issues that arise in the unit.  Workshops provide students with opportunities reflective/critical thinking, role play and group discussions, which will enhance both practice and critical analysis of the unit content. Web-based learning will allow for the delivery of unit content. Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively within class activities. 

This unit may also be offered in intensive mode on an international campus. The materials and assessments are consistent with the semester mode materials. Intensive mode delivery of PSYC642 will be transparently equitable in delivery of content, to that of students participating in face-to-face delivery on campus. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment strategy for this unit allows students to demonstrate their acquisition of knowledge, as well as the application of that knowledge. The first written assignment is designed to assess students’ ability to critically analyse and synthesize information in a case study and to formulate the case from a perspective that is consistent with emerging therapy. The second written assignment is designed to assess the students ability to communicate with clients psychopharmacological information and concepts. In the final exam, recall of key knowledge concepts is assessed via multiple choice while short answer questions provide students with an opportunity to demonstrate their grasp of key concepts and their ability to synthesise information learnt throughout the course in meaningful ways. Taken together, these assessment tasks facilitate the demonstration of each of the learning outcomes of this unit.  

Intensive mode assessment of PSYC642 will be transparently equitable to that of students participating in face-to-face delivery on campus. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Written Assignment  

To develop the ability to critically evaluate and integrate information provided in a case study and to develop a case formulation and treatment plan consistent with the emprirical research literature and theoretical principles underlying the emerging therapy  


1, 2, 3 

GA 4, 5, 8, 9 

Written Assignment   

To develop knowledge of basic psychotropic medications and the ability to communicate in plain language the basic principles of drug action and pharmacokinetics. 


4, 5 

GA 4, 5, 8, 9 


To demonstrate knowledge and understanding of course content. 


1, 2, 3, 4, 5 

GA 4, 5, 9

Representative texts and references

Hayes, S. C., Strosahl, K. D., & Wilson, K. G. (2012). Acceptance and commitment therapy (2nd ed.). The process and practice of mindful change. New York: Guilford Press. 

Edward, K-L. & Alderman, C. (2013). Psychopharmacology: Practice and Contexts. South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.  

Luoma, J. B., Hayes, S. C., & Walser, R. D. (2007). Learning ACT: An Acceptance & Commitment Therapy skills training manual for therapists. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger. 

Preston, J. D., O’Neal, J., & Talaga, M. C. (2017). Handbook of clinical psychopharmacology for therapists (8th ed.). Oakland, CA: New Harbinger. 

Schatzberg, A. F. & DeBattista, C. (eds.). (2015). Manual of Clinical Psychopharmacology (8th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.    

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