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PSY8010 Issues and Skills in Professional Practice

Semester 1, 2015 On-campus Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences
School or Department : School of Psychology and Counselling

Contents on this page


Examiner: Nancey Hoare
Moderator: Paul Bramston


Pre-requisite: Students must be enrolled in one of the following Programs: MPCL

Other requisites

Students enrolled in the DPCL or MPCL program MUST enrol in the TOOWOOMBA offer of this course.
Students enrolled in the PDPP program MUST enrol in the SPRINGFIELD offer of this course.


There is basic professional practice knowledge and essential skills that students must acquire before commencing supervised practice. In addition to a sound knowledge of professional ethics and procedures, students must be aware of their personal assumptions,biases, values and social/interpersonal styles that can influence competent professional practice.
This course informs and provides the foundation for the further skills developed in all other courses.


This course focuses on discipline knowledge and professional and interpersonal competencies required of students in relation to supervised practice in both mental health-specific and more general settings. Students will examine the assumptions, values and social/interpersonal skills that they bring into their professional practice. Building on these, students will develop their professional knowledge and interpersonal/professional competencies, including initial interviewing, developing a therapeutic alliance, and monitoring client outcomes. There is a focus on skill acquisition within the contexts of diversity and cultural competency and professional ethics. Learning opportunities include compulsory day-long workshops on-campus which integrate role-play practice with video-based self-reflective learning and feedback, research and theoretical reviews, written assignments and web-based discussions.


On successful completion of this course, students will be able to demonstrate competencies as identified in the APS (Australian Psychological Society) Competencies for Psychologists (1996) and the APS College of Clinical Psychologists (2010). They will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge regarding the current research and literature on evidence-based practices in establishing a working alliance with clients;
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of assessment of client satisfaction and therapeutic outcome;
  3. Demonstrate an ability to conduct interviews effectively to obtain information essential to conceptualise and to formulate clinical problems and to establish client rapport to motivate and sustain a therapeutic alliance where appropriate;
  4. Demonstrate an understanding and application of cultural competence in working with diverse populations;
  5. Demonstrate an ability to use appropriate and effective interviewing skills;
  6. Demonstrate knowledge and application of service provision boundaries, and ethical and legal regulations within the APS Code of Ethics and Professional Guidelines, the National Psychologists Registration Act and Regulations and the QLD Mental Health Act;
  7. Demonstrate an ability to communicate effectively and work collaboratively with colleagues from other disciplines;
  8. Demonstrate an awareness of business management practices appropriate to private practice settings.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Developing competencies in a range of interview approaches to establish rapport and build therapeutic alliance with attention and sensitivity to age, gender, cultural and socio-economic disadvantage. 40.00
2. Exploring personal values, biases and assumptions affecting professional practice; impact of: culture (special emphasis on working with Indigenous Australians) - gender - disability - sexual orientation - minority group identification - age-socio-economic disadvantage 10.00
3. Professional skills: professional personal presentation, - establishing informed consent for assessment and treatment, negotiating treatment goals, processes and client contracts, multidisciplinary communication, critical self reflection skills, time management and self care; private practice matters; 15.00
4. Ethics, professional regulations and mental health legislation at state and federal levels: - APS Code of Ethics and Professional Guidelines - rights and responsibilities - confidentiality - managing boundaries and multiple relationships - record keeping - Queensland Mental Health Act; National Psychologists Registration Act and Regulations 35.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

  • Ranzijn, R, McConnochie, K & Nolan, W 2009, Psychology and Indigenous Australians: Foundations of Cultural Competence, Palgrave McMillan, South Yarra.
  • Sommers-Flanagan, J & Sommers-Flanagan, R 2014, Clinical Interviewing, 5th edn, Wiley, New York.
  • The Australian Psychological Society Ltd 2009, Code of Ethics, The Australian Psychological Society Ltd, Carlton South, Victoria.
  • The Australian Psychological Society Ltd 2014, Ethical Guidelines, 12th edn, The Australian Psychological Society Ltd, Carlton South, Victoria.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
  • Dudgeon, P 2000, Working with Indigenous Australians: A Handbook for Psychologists, Gunada Press, Perth.
    (ABN 99 143 842 569 Contact to order:
  • Ivey, AE & Ivey, MB 2014, Intentional interviewing and counseling: Facilitating client development in a multicultural society, 8th edn, Brooks/Cole - Thomson, Pacific Grove, CA.
  • Norcross, J 2011, Psychotherapy Relationships that Work: Evidence-based Responsiveness, 2nd edn, Oxford University Press, New York, NY.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Assessments 68.00
Private Study 59.00
Workshops 48.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
Essay 40 40 05 May 2015
2 HOUR CLOSED ETHICS TEST 57 57 02 Jun 2015 (see note 1)
ATTENDANCE AT 6 WORKSHOPS 1 1 02 Jun 2015 (see note 2)
DVD & Self Assessments 1 TO 3 1 1 02 Jun 2015 (see note 3)
1 HR Recorded Interview/SA 1 1 16 Jun 2015 (see note 4)

  1. The ethics test will be given in Workshop 6.
  2. Attendance at six on-campus workshops is required according to the 'Postgraduate Workshop Schedule' which will be posted on the Psychology Department website.
  3. A minimum of three recorded interview sessions must be submitted each with a self reflective assessment, with sessions 1 and 2 due by Workshop 2 and session 3 due by Workshop 3.
  4. Evaluation of clinical interviewing skills will occur in conjunction with the interview for the Viva case presentation for PSY8065.

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    It is the students' responsibility to attend and participate appropriately in the compulsory workshops held on-campus, where the skills components of this course will be taught. During these workshops, students will engage in the development and practice of skills for interviewing and establishing therapeutic alliance. Further, it is the students' responsibility to study all assigned material. If circumstances prevent a student from attending any portion of a workshop, the student must contact the examiner IN ADVANCE, if at all possible. The student must also contact the examiner in order to arrange an alternative activity. This could be a written assignment based on the material covered in the missed workshop. Attendance at and participation in the three workshops and/or completion of one or more alternative activities at a standard judged to be appropriate by the examiner is required before the one mark for the workshops can be awarded.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To complete the essay and 2 hour closed ethics test satisfactorily, students must acheive at least 50% of the marks available for the essay and 70 % of the marks available for the ethics test. Students must also demonstrate that they have achieved the competency standards by receiving a mark of one (1) for the six (6) workshops, the DVD & self-assessments and the 1 hour recorded interview.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of a pass in this course students must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks for the essay and and at least 70% of the total weighted marks for the ethics test, must attend all six (6) workshops and must submit the one hour recorded interview and the self-reflection assessment.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the aggregate of the weighted marks obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    The two hour, closed ethics test will be given in-class in Workshop 6 for MPCL/DPCL students and in the examination period for students enrolled in the PDPP. The test will consist of a number of case studies/examples with short answer questions based on the APS Code of Ethics and Professional Practice Guidelines, the National Psychologists Registration Act and the QLD Mental Health Act. Students may bring only writing materials into the closed test.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Any deferred tests for this course will be held at a date and time determined by the examiner after consultation with the students involved. There will be no supplementary tests in this course.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. Students must submit a minimum of three 30-minute DVD's of their clinical interviews with "clients" (volunteers), each accompanied by a Self Assessment of Clinical Skills and Self Reflection Journal. Students will engage in peer review of their DVD's in consultation with the Examiner. Successful completion of this skill assessment item will be determined from the Examiner's assessment of the final clinical interviewing skills DVD to determine that minimum competency has been demonstrated.

  2. Students must submit a 5,000 word essay focussed on a topic relevant to a factor important in establishing therapeutic relationships either in general or with respect to a particular clientele. The essay has three components: 1. A brief critical overview of the evidence research on the topic; 2. A summary and analysis of an interview with a practising psychologist regarding their practice within the topic area; and 3. A self reflection based on the student's experiences to date of their own best practice regarding the topic and identified components for futher professional development in their first practicum. This last component will be based on a written transcript of a section of one DVD which demonstrates the student's experience. The transcript will be submitted in an Appendix to the essay.

  3. The due date for an assignment is the date by which a student must despatch an assignment to the USQ. The onus is on the student to provide proof of the despatch date, if requested by the examiner; STUDENTS MUST RETAIN A DATED RECEIPT FROM THE POST OFFICE WHEN POSTING ASSIGNMENTS.

  4. Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment. This must be despatched to the USQ within 24 hours of receipt of a request to do so.

  5. In accordance with the University Policy, the examiner may grant an extension of the due date of an assignment in extenuating circumstances. STUDENTS MUST CONTACT THE EXAMINER DIRECTLY, IN ADVANCE, IN ORDER TO OBTAIN AN EXTENSION.

  6. The Faculty of Sciences will NOT accept submission of assignments by facsimile.

  7. APA style is the referencing system required in this course. Students should use APA style in their assignments to format details of the information sources they have cited in their work. The APA style to be used is defined by the USQ Library's referencing guide. //

Other requirements

  1. Students will require regular access to e-mail and internet access to UConnect for this course.