Skip to main content
USQ Logo
The current and official versions of the course specifications are available on the web at
Please consult the web for updates that may occur during the year.

PSY5110 Ethical, Legal and Professional Issues

Semester 1, 2019 On-campus Ipswich
Short Description: Ethical, Legal & Profes Issues
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences
School or Department : School of Psychology and Counselling
Student contribution band : Band 1
ASCED code : 090701 - Psychology
Grading basis : Graded


Examiner: Crystal McMullen


Pre-requisite: Students must be enrolled in the following Program: MPPS or be undertaking the course as professional development


Psychologists are required to have strong knowledge of ethical and legal principles that apply to their work with clients. In addition, psychologists must possess the skills required to recognise and manage ethical issues and follow legal procedures throughout their psychological practice. Other key foundational competencies required in successful psychological practice include knowledge and skills in self-reflection and deliberate practice, theoretical application in case formulation, classification and diagnosis, microcounselling and rapport-building skills, and inter-professional practice.


This course covers key foundational competencies in the ethical, legal and professional domains. Students will gain working knowledge of the APS Code of Ethics, with a particular focus on Confidentiality, Managing Boundaries, Dual Relationships, and managing high-risk clients. Key legislation is covered including the Mental Health Act and Health Practitioner Regulation law. Finally, the course covers key professional competencies including: theory application in clinical practice, reflective and deliberate practice, case formulation, mental status examination, interviewing, microcounselling and therapeutic relationship skills, working with diverse clients, interprofessional practice, and classification and diagnosis in psychological practice.


On successful completion of this course, students should be able to

  1. implement knowledge and application of ethical and legal regulations, including the APS Code of Ethics and Ethical Guidelines, Mental Health Act and Health Practitioners Regulation legislation;
  2. conduct interviews effectively to obtain information essential to formulate clinical problems, and classification of presenting concerns using DSM-5 diagnosis;
  3. integrate client information and psychological theory into clinical case formulation to inform treatment;
  4. integrate knowledge and skills regarding the ability to establish and maintain rapport;
  5. apply their knowledge and skills in working competently with diverse populations;
  6. demonstrate their understanding of the importance of interprofessional practice;
  7. demonstrate high level verbal and written communication skills;
  8. employ reflective and deliberate practice in their work with clients.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Ethics and Law in Psychological Practice: The APS Code of Ethics and Ethical Guidelines; Mental Health Act and Health Practitioner Regulation Law 20.00
2. Microcounselling, Interview and Rapport-Building Skills 20.00
3. Reflective and Deliberate Practice, including the key role of case formulation 20.00
4. Classification and DSM-5 Diagnosis 10.00
5. Inter-Professional Practice 10.00
6. Theory Application in Psychological Practice 10.00
7. Working with diverse client populations 10.00

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. (

American Psychiatric Association 2013, Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, 5th edn, American Psychiatric Association, Washington DC.
The Australian Psychological Society Ltd 2007, Code of Ethics, The Australian Psychological Society Ltd, Carlton South, Victoria.
The Australian Psychological Society Ltd 2017, Ethical Guidelines, 14th 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.
Bott, D & Howard, P 2012, The Therapeutic Encounter, A Cross-Modality Approach, Sage, London, UK.
Dudgeon, P 2000, Working with Indigenous Australians: A Handbook for Psychologists, Gunada Press, Perth.
Eells, T.D 2007, Handbook of Psychotherapy Case Formulation, 2nd edn, Guilford, New York, NY.
Ivey, AE & Ivey, MB 2017, Intentional interviewing and counseling: Facilitating client development in a multicultural society, 9th edn, Brooks/Cole - Thomson, Pacific Grove, CA.
Messer, S.B & Gurman, A.S (Eds.) 2011, Essential Psychotherapies, Theory and Practice, 3rd edn, Guilford, New York, NY.
Norcross, J 2011, Psychotherapy Relationships that Work: Evidence-based Responsiveness, 2nd edn, Oxford University Press, New York, NY.
O'Donovan, A, Casey, L, van der Veen, M & Boschen, M 2013, Psychotherapy, An Australian Perspective, IP Communications, East Hawthorn.
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 2017, Clinical Interviewing, 6th edn, Wiley, New York.

Student workload expectations

Activity Hours
Private Study 125.00
Workshops 40.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
TAKE HOME PROF PRAC TEST 30 30 14 Mar 2019
RECORDED INTERVIEW 30 30 23 Mar 2019
REFLECTIVE ESSAY 40 40 04 Apr 2019

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 MPPS Program Coordinator in order to arrange an alternative activity to be completed. Attendance at and participation in the five workshops and/or completion of one or more alternative activities at a standard judged to be appropriate by the examiner/MPPS coordinator is required before the one mark for the workshops can be awarded. Attendance at the five on-campus workshops is mandatory. Dates of the five workshops will be according to the 'MPPS Workshop Schedule' which will be emailed to students at the outset of the program.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an individual assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks available for each assessment item. See also point 4 below

  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 receiving a passing grade a student must attend all 5 workshops and submit all assessment items including the recorded interview, the reflective essay and the take home professional practice test. Students must achieve at least 50% on each assessment item in order to gain an overall pass for the course. All courses in the MPPS are approved by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC), which requires that students pass all assessment items in all courses. Where a student fails any assignment, the student will be allowed one opportunity to re-submit their work following feedback from the course examiner. If a student fails any assignment a second time, he or she will be deemed to have failed the course and will be required to undertake the course again at its next offering. This rule applies regardless of whether or not the aggregated marks for remaining assessment in a course are higher than 50% overall. Where illness, bereavement, or circumstances of similar gravity affect a student’s ability to meet the high standards expected in the MPPS, the student should meet with the course examiner or MPPS Program Coordinator to negotiate suitable management of the person’s individual needs.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grade 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:
    There is no examination in this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    As there are no examinations in this course, there will be no deferred or supplementary examinations.

  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 30 minute recording of their clinical interviews with "clients" (volunteers), accompanied by a Reflective Essay. Successful completion of this skill assessment item will be determined from the Examiner's assessment of the clinical interviewing skills recording to determine that minimum competency has been demonstrated.

  2. Students must also submit a Self Assessment of Clinical Skills from which the Examiner will determine whether the student meets the level of self-awareness suitable for the Psychology Board of Australia's core capability related to ethics and professional issues.

  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 Health, Engineering & 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.
    Reliable access to the internet is a requirement of this course as the course contains elements that are managed electronically via USQ StudyDesk. In order to avoid internet issues, on-campus students should access the student computer laboratories to complete assignment work. External students who knowingly do not have reliable access to the internet should actively seek alternative internet access (e.g., Internet cafes, local libraries, or work places) for assessment submission and electronic assessment attempts. External students are able to use the on-campus student computer laboratories once access has been enabled. To be granted access, external students need to contact ICT and ask to have a student account enabled so that they can work on-campus.