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

Best practice in mental health requires that practitioners are able to reflect on and develop understanding of their practice. Clinical Supervision is identified as a core component of contemporary professional mental health nursing practice in a number of professional standard documents.

This unit explores the principles underpinning personal and professional development and reflective practice, in order to promote the development of higher order critical thinking supportive of professional practice at an advanced level. Students will explore the importance of self-awareness when monitoring their own practice and the extent to which they work within personal, professional and organisational values and principles. Students will explore contemporary opinion and research on emotional intelligence / literacy and how this relates to their practice in mental health. A focus on continuing professional development and clinical supervision activities to enhance knowledge, skills, values and attitudes needed for safe and effective mental health practice will be incorporated.

The aim of this unit is to provide students with an opportunity to develop an in-depth understanding of reflective practice and clinical supervision and apply these principles in their own practice setting.

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 - Explain the principles underpinning personal and professional development, clinical supervision, peer mentoring and reflective practice (GA3, GA7)

LO2 - Apply principles of clinical supervision, mentoring and peer debriefing within the context of mental health practice to engage therapeutically with individuals, their families, carers/significant others based on self-awareness and critical reflection on practice and critical reflection on the contexts within which care takes place (GA2, GA4, GA5)

LO3 - Analyse the principles and skills of emotional intelligence/literacy to build positive relationships, maintain mental and physical well-being and to achieve personal growth and professional goals (GA4, GA7, GA10)

LO4 - Develop a commitment to the need for continuing professional development and clinical supervision activities to enhance the knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes needed for safe and effective mental health practice (GA5, GA7)

Graduate attributes

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

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

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Topics will include:

Theoretical frameworks of therapeutic communication and self-awareness within interpersonal relationships

  • Therapeutic communication
  • Self-awareness
  • Self-acceptance
  • Trust & Self disclosure
  • Support & interpersonal communication
  • Strength, hope & resilience models of care

The use of emotional intelligence / literacy

  • Effective management and leadership
  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Functional and adaptive relationships
  • Ethical imperatives and considerations

Professional / personal development and reflective practice

  • Theory, knowledge & skills re own emotional responses
  • Assessment of effects, outcomes of own emotional responses
  • Monitoring and evaluation
  • Implications for practice
  • Critical analysis of professional boundaries & relationships

Professional /personal development and clinical supervision

  • Models of clinical supervision
  • Performance management
  • Mentoring
  • Quality of care
  • Reflective practice
  • Practice development
  • Empowerment
  • Personal mental health

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit utilises an active learning process offered in online mode delivery through the learning environment online (LEO) via eLearning link. This approach to learning is flexible and inclusive, enabling students to access a range of learning opportunities form a variety of geographical locations. Students will have the opportunity to discuss and reflect on the theoretical concepts underpinning reflective practice, and the introduction of clinical supervision as a mechanism to support professional development in mental health practice, on both a global and local level.

This will be achieved through student-centred learning and teaching activities completed via online learning platforms. These online activities include Inquiry Based Learning, student seminars, discussion forums, chat rooms, oral presentations, guided readings with links to electronic readings, self-assessments, self- directed learning and webinars that will provide students with the opportunity to critically reflect on clinical supervision and its application to their practice.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessments used in this unit include assessable content from synchronous webinar discussions, a written assignment, focusing on analysis of a critical workplace incident using a reflective model, and an ePortfolio demonstrating breadth and depth of document analysis and reading, and evidence of ongoing engagement in clinical supervision. Assessments are designed for students to cumulatively demonstrate achievement of each learning outcome.

Assessment have been designed to provide students with the opportunity to first develop and document their understanding of unit content through collaborative dialogue. The second assessment task provides an opportunity for students to critical reflect on how they can utilise reflective practice through application of the principles to a clinical practice event. The final assessment task is a cap[stone activity in which students are required to provide evidence of their use of reflective practice and clinical supervision in their professional practice and integrate this evidence with their theoretical understanding to write a personal philosophy statement.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment 1: Online Discussion Contribution

Enables students to demonstrate their developing understanding and ability to communicate this understanding of the values, attitudes, knowledge and skills related to unit content through dialogue with peers and lecturers.


LO1, LO3

GA3, GA4, GA7, GA10

Assessment 2: Critical Practice Example and Reflection

Students will demonstrate knowledge of the principles underpinning reflective practice by critical reflection on a clinical event from their clinical practice.


LO1, LO2, LO4

GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7

Assessment 3: ePortfolio

Students will create an ePortfolio detailing their developing understanding and application of the theoretical and practical aspects of undertaking reflective practice and clinical supervision. Students will include artefacts to demonstrate their involvement in clinical supervision. These artefacts will be used to underpin the writing of a personal philosophy of reflective practice and clinical supervision. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA10

Representative texts and references

Australian College of Mental Health Nurses Inc. (2011). Clinical Supervision position statement retrieved May, 2013 at

Australian College of Mental Health Nurses [2010] Standards of Practice for Australian Mental Health Nurses 2010. Canberra: Author.

Bezzina, A. (2013). Empowerment, Lifelong Learning and Recovery in Mental Health: Towards a New Paradigm. Social Work Education: The International Journal, 32(4) 554-556.

Dawson, M., Phillips, B., & Leggart, S.G. (2012). Effective clinical supervision for regional allied health professionals - the supervisee's perspective. Australian Health Review, 36(1), 92-97.

Foster, K., Marks, P., O'Brien. A. & Raeburn, T. (2020). Mental health in nursing, 5th ed. Elsevier 

Hercelinskjy, G. & Alexander, L. (2020). Mental health nursing: applying theory to practice. Cengage: Singapore.  

McKenna, B., Thom, K., Howard, F., & Williams, V. (2010). In search of a national approach to professional supervision for mental health and addiction nurses: The New Zealand experience. Contemporary Nurse,34(2), 267-276.

O’Toole, G. (2012). Communication: Core interpersonal skills for health professionals (2nd ed.). Chatswood, NSW: Churchill Livingston.

Taylor, M., & Harrison, C.A. (2010). Introducing clinical supervision across Western Australian public mental health services. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 19(4), 287–293.

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