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  • Semester 1Campus Attendance
  • Term Mode
  • Semester 1Campus Attendance



Unit rationale, description and aim

The ability to conduct effective, evidence-based therapeutic intervention is a core competency required of psychologists in order to provide optimal benefit to their clients and the community. In order to achieve this competence it is necessary to have strong client engagement skills, well-honed clinical observation skills, good communication and interpersonal skills, sound psychological theoretical knowledge (of both empirically based treatment approaches and the crucial elements of effective therapeutic relationships), and the ability to apply effectively the techniques of at least one evidence-based therapeutic approach. This unit provides theoretical and practical training in non-specific therapeutic factors, basic counselling skills across the lifespan, behaviour therapy, cognitive behaviour therapy and cultural influences on therapeutic intervention. The aim of the unit is to develop and enhance interpersonal and communication skills, understanding of evidence-based therapeutic approaches and the ability to apply therapeutic techniques effectively.

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 theoretical principles of empirically based treatment approaches and the important elements of effective therapeutic relationships to engage clients in psychological work, including the capacity for empathy and communication of empathic understanding to clients in culturally responsive waysGC1, GC2, GC3, GC4, GC5, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11, GC12
LO2Explain factors that are important to consider in counselling and psychotherapy including; multi-cultural influences, professional ethical issues in counselling and non-specific factors involved in psychological interventionsGC1, GC2, GC3, GC5, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11, GC12
LO3Demonstrate knowledge of psychotherapy and micro-counselling skills in the assessment and intervention of common psychological and counselling issuesGC1, GC2, GC3, GC4, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC11, GC12


Topics will include: 

  • Counselling and psychotherapeutic approaches  
  • Non-specific factors in psychological interventions 
  • Micro-counselling skills with a focus on client engagement 
  • Developing a cognitive-behavioural case conceptualisation 
  • Cognitive interventions including cognitive restructuring and problem solving skills  
  • Behavioural interventions including relaxation training, exposure, and activity scheduling 
  • Behaviour therapy and cognitive behaviour therapy with children and adolescents. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Postgraduate students in psychology are expected to be independent learners. This is reflected in an approach that puts students at the centre of their learning through participation in discussions and role plays. This unit therefore uses an active learning approach presented in face-to face mode and utilises a combination of lectures, workshops and web-based learning. Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively in 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. Workshops provide students with opportunities for reflective/critical thinking, role play and group discussions, which will enhance both practice and critical analysis of the unit content. 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 psychological practice.  

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment strategy for this unit allows students to demonstrate their acquisition and critical application of the essential foundational skills required for counselling and psychotherapy. In order to best enable students to demonstrate unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes, standards-based assessment, consistent with university assessment requirements, is used. The video recorded interview and report allows students to demonstrate their understanding of basic counselling skills, to consider and reflect on non-specific factors including cultural influences on their practice, and to evaluate their knowledge and application of counselling skills. The written assignment allows students to further demonstrate their understanding of cognitive-behavioural principles, to consider and reflect on non-specific factors and multi-cultural influences, to consider and evaluate the range of evidence-based strategies relevant to the case, and to reflect on their readiness to proceed to the practicum component of the course. The practical exam in an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) format allows students the opportunity to demonstrate the application of microcounselling and cognitive-behaviour therapy skills in the context of a simulated therapist-client relationship. Students must pass all assessment tasks in order to pass the unit because in order to conduct effective, evidence-based therapeutic interventions, students must demonstrate an appropriate level of competence across all learning outcomes. 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. However students will be given the option to resit the OSCE on one additional occasion should they fail the OSCE on their first attempt, 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Written Assignment  

This written assignment allows students to demonstrate their understanding of basic cognitive-behavioural principles, consideration of a the range of non-specific factors, cultural, and ethical influences, and to encourage critical reflection skills. 


LO1, LO2

Video Recorded Interview and Report  

This assignment allows students to demonstrate effective counselling micro-skills and case conceptualisation. 


LO1, LO2, LO3

Practical Examination in OSCE format 

This practical examination allows students to demonstrate the application of theoretical knowledge and psychotherapy practical skills in the context of a therapist-client relationship. 


LO1, LO3

Representative texts and references

Beck, J. (2021). Cognitive-behavior therapy: Basics and beyond (3rd ed.). Guilford Publications.  

Bennett-Levy, J., Thwaites, R., Haarhoff, B., & Perry, H. (2015). Experiencing CBT from the inside out: A self-practice/self-reflection workbook for therapists. New York: Guilford Press. 

Kazantzis, N., Dattilio, F. M., & Dobson, K. S. (2017). The therapeutic relationship in cognitive-behavioral therapy. A clinician’s guide. New York: Guilford Press. 

Sommers-Flanagan, J., & Sommers-Flanagan, R. (2017). Clinical interviewing (6th ed.). John Wiley & Sons.  

Norcross, J. C. & Lambert, M. J. (2019). Psychotherapy relationships that work: Evidence-based responsiveness (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press

O'Donovan, A., Casey, L., van der Veen, M., &  Boschen, B. (2013). Psychotherapy - An Australian perspective. East Hawthorn Victoria: IP Communications. 

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