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.

PSY8010 Issues and Skills in Professional Practice

Semester 1, 2019 On-campus Toowoomba
Short Description: Issue & Skills in Profess Prac
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
Version produced : 26 May 2019


Examiner: Nancey Hoare


Pre-requisite: Students must be enrolled in the following Program: MPCL

Other requisites

Students enrolled in the MPCL program MUST enrol in the TOOWOOMBA 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 culturally-responsive and 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 in the MPCL.


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 and ethical decision-making, video-based self-reflective learning and feedback, and research and theoretical reviews.


On successful completion of this course, students will be able to demonstrate competencies as identified in the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC) standards and the Australian Psychological Society (APS) Code of Ethics. They will be able to:

  1. Critically review and synthesise the current research and literature on evidence-based practices in establishing a working alliance and therapeutic relationship with clients;
  2. Demonstrate appropriate and effective use of advanced counselling and interviewing skills to establish and maintain rapport with clients from diverse backgrounds and to obtain information essential to formulating the presenting issues and determining appropriate interventions;
  3. Use appropriate client feedback tools to assess the working alliance, therapeutic relationship, therapy processes and outcomes;
  4. Demonstrate cultural competence, responsiveness, and sensitivity in working with diverse populations, with a specific focus on working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
  5. Demonstrate knowledge of the law governing the practice of psychology in Australia, the operation of the Psychology Board of Australia, and the QLD Mental Health Act;
  6. Demonstrate advanced knowledge of, and the ability to comply with, the APS Code of Ethics and current Ethical Guidelines;
  7. Effectively employ ethical problem-solving strategies, integrating key ethical, legal, and professional issues relevant to the context, to address and resolve ethical dilemmas in a variety of professional settings;
  8. Demonstrate an ability to communicate effectively and work collaboratively with a range of professional and support staff in the workplace;
  9. Demonstrate an awareness of matters relevant to psychology private practice settings.
  10. Engage in self-reflective and self-evaluative professional practice, taking account of the impact of their own values and beliefs, and take appropriate actions for continuous improvement.


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 Ethical Guidelines - rights and responsibilities - confidentiality - managing boundaries and multiple relationships - record keeping - ethical problem solving. 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. (

Sommers-Flanagan, J & Sommers-Flanagan, R 2016, Clinical interviewing, 6th edn, Wiley, New York, NY.
The Australian Psychological Society Ltd 2007, Code of ethics, Melbourne, Australia.
The Australian Psychological Society Ltd 2017, Ethical Guidelines, 14th edn, Melbourne, Australia.

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 Milroy, H & Walker, R (Eds) 2014, Working with Indigenous Australians: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing principles and practice.
(Retrieved from
Garvey, D.C 2008, Indigenous identity in contemporary psychology: dilemmas, developments, directions, Cengage Learning Australia, Melbourne, Australia:.
Ivey, A. E. & Ivey, M. B. & Zalaguett, C.P 2018, Intentional interviewing and counseling: facilitating client development in a multicultural society, 9th edn, Cengage Learning, Boston, MA.
Morrissey, S., Reddy, P., Davidson, G. R. & Allan, A 2015, Ethics and professional practice for psychologists, 2, Cengage Learning Australia, Melbourne, Australia:.
Norcross, J (Ed.) 2011, Psychotherapy relationships that work: evidence-based responsiveness, 2nd edn, Oxford University Press, New York, NY.
Ranzijn, R., McConnochie, K., & Nolan, W 2009, Psychology and indigenous Australians: foundations of cultural competence, Palgrave Macmillan, Melbourne, Australia.

Student workload expectations

Activity Hours
Assessments 58.00
Private Study 59.00
Workshops 48.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
Essay 40 40 09 May 2019
1 -hr Clinical Interview & SA 1 1 13 Jun 2019 (see note 1)
2-hr Ethics Test 57 57 13 Jun 2019 (see note 2)
3x30min Videos & SA 1 1 13 Jun 2019 (see note 3)
Workshop Attendance 1 1 13 Jun 2019 (see note 4)

  1. Evaluation of clinical interviewing skills will occur in conjunction with the interview for the Viva case presentation for PSY8065.
  2. The 2- hour restricted written ethics test will be given during the final workshop. Students are permitted to take in and refer to the APS Code of Ethics and the APS Ethical Guidelines. Access to electronic devices, such as laptops, tablets, or smart phones is not permitted.
  3. A minimum of three 30-minute recorded interview sessions must be submitted, each with a self-assessment of skills and a self-reflection. due dates will be posted on the course Study Desk.
  4. Attendance at the on-campus workshops is compulsory. Details are in the 'Postgraduate Workshop Schedule'.

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 ethical problem-solving and will practice skills for interviewing and establishing a 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, and provide relevant documentation in accordance with the Assessment of Compassionate and Compelling Circumstances procedure ( The student must also contact the examiner in order to arrange an alternative activity. This could be a written assignment and/or video(s) based on the material covered in the missed workshop. Attendance at and participation in the 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 achieve at least 50% of the marks available for the essay and at least 70 % of the marks available for the ethics test. Students must also demonstrate that they have achieved the competency standards by receiving marks of one (1) for workshop attendance, one (1) for the three videos and self-reflectivie assessments, and one (1) for the 1-hour recorded clinical interview and self-reflective assessment.

  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 receive a passing grade in this course students must satisfactorily complete all pieces of assessment as per point 2. Students who receive a score below required marks will be required to complete make-up work set by the examiner and moderator.

  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 2-hour, closed written ethics test will be given in-class during the final workshop and will test students' knowledge of the APS Code of Ethics and Ethical Guidelines, relevant legislation, and professional practice issues. Students may bring only writing materials into the closed test. Answer sheets will be provided.

  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 familiarise themselves with the USQ Assessment Procedures (

  2. If electronic submission is specified for a course assessment, students will be notified of this on the Course Study Desk. The due date for an electronically-submitted assessment is the date by which a student must electronically submit the assignment, irrespective of holidays. The assignment files must be submitted by 11.55pm on the due date using USQ time (as displayed on the clock on the course home page; that is, Australian Eastern Standard Time).

  3. If hardcopy submission is specified for a course assessment, students will be notified of this on the Course Study Desk. The due date for a hardcopy assignment is the date by which a student must submit at USQ or despatch the assignment to USQ, irrespective of holidays.

  4. APA style is the referencing system required in this course. Students should use 6th edition 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.

  5. Reliable access to the internet is a requirement of this course as the course contains electronic assessment and/or submission elements. In order to avoid internet issues, on-campus students should upload their assignments electronically using the computer laboratories. 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.