Engagement and Assessment of Patients with Common Mental Health Problems

Module titleEngagement and Assessment of Patients with Common Mental Health Problems
Module codePSY2301
Academic year2016/7
Module staff

Dr Robert Kidney (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

The effective engagement and assessment of patients with common mental health difficulties requires an appreciation and application of ‘common factors’ competencies, alongside a good understanding of common mental health problems and evidence-based treatments. In this module you will gain an appreciation of, and competency in, a range of common factors required to support effective communication skills and of the knowledge and clinical competency skills required to undertake an assessment of patients with anxiety and depression.

The module consists of 10 days scheduled teaching and learning activities, where you will undertake timetabled clinical activities, complete online reflective blogs and undertake skills practice with peers in the clinical method.. The taught days contain 30% theory and 70% skills practice in line with the national curriculum.  In clinical skills sessions the tutor/student ratio is 1:10 in line with the national curriculum and accreditation requirements for PWP training. The module is further supported with guided self-directed and skills practice that you will undertake in your own time.

This module is non-condonable and all individual components of assessment must be passed. In line with PWP course accreditation requirements, this module has a 100% attendance policy. Should your attendance fall below that level an action plan will be put into place. Should your attendance drop below 80% then the module cannot be passed and you will be required to repeat the module, or, at your request, you may be considered for a transfer to the BSc Psychology. Additionally, professional conduct must be adhered to at all times. Any behaviour deemed to fall outside of these guidelines will result in a verbal then written action plan. This module, PSY2302 and the 5-day placement component must all be passed to progress to PSY3304 in the third year.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim of this module is to develop core ‘common factor’ and disorder specific diagnostic assessment competencies in communication skills and collaborative working and, along with a good understanding of common mental health problems and behavioural change models, apply these skills to undertake effective low intensity CBT-based assessments and plan collaborative treatment programmes for patients using a variety of methods and communication formats.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Describe the concepts of mental health and mental illness, diagnostic category systems in mental health and a range of social, medical and psychological explanatory models
  • 2. Evaluate and use competently ‘common factors’ to engage patients, gather information, build therapeutic alliances, manage the emotional content of sessions and grasp their perspective or world view
  • 3. Evaluate and gather competently patient-centred information to arrive at a succinct and collaborative definition of their main mental health difficulties and the impact these have on daily living
  • 4. Evaluate and recognise patterns of symptoms consistent with diagnostic categories of mental disorder from a patient-centred interview
  • 5. Evaluate, recognise and assess accurately the risk posed by patients to themselves or others
  • 6. Evaluate and use competently standardised symptom assessment tools and other psychometric instruments to aid problem recognition and definition and subsequent decision making
  • 7. Evaluate your patient’s views and opinions to a range of mental health treatments, including prescribed medication and evidence-based psychological treatments
  • 8. Apply theoretical ideas and research evidence to the support of individual patients

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 9. Summarise basic and essential factual and conceptual knowledge of the subject, and demonstrate a critical understanding of this knowledge
  • 10. Review and evaluate established work and to identify some of the strengths and weaknesses of this work

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 11. Describe a range of key professional and ethical issues related to professional practice within mental health settings and personal development
  • 12. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, challenge received opinion and develop your own criteria and judgement, and to seek and make use of feedback

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

The content, module-specific learning objectives, style of delivery and assessment for this module are as dictated by the national low intensity Improving Access to Psychological Therapies curriculum. Teaching content will include:

Knowledge Concerning Core Competencies, Assessment of Common Mental Health Problems

  • Concepts of mental health and mental illness; diagnostic classification systems in mental health
  • Patient-centred interviewing; social, medical and psychological explanatory models of mental health
  • Recognition of patterns of symptoms and relate these to diagnostic categories of mental health difficulties
  • Risk and risk assessment; standardised symptom assessment tools and psychometric instruments
  • Patient attitude and effect on medication and psychological therapy treatment choice
  • Eliciting appropriate and succinct details of interviews and pencil based questionnaire assessments

Intensive Skills Practice to Cover

  • Use of ‘common factors’ communication skills to effectively engage clients and develop an effective therapeutic alliance
  • Patient-centred information gathering
  • Deriving a collaborative definition of the clients main mental health difficulties and impact on daily living
  • Recognising and assessing risk
  • Use of standardised symptom assessment tools and psychometric instruments
  • Managing the emotional content of sessions
  • Appreciation and understanding of the patient’s perspective or world view

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 75Practical intensive skills classes, lectures and seminars. These will be used to develop clinical competencies in assessment and engagement through tutor supervised small group role-play
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 37.5Timetabled self-practice and self-reflection days undertaking role-play skills practice with fellow students and ‘blogging’ of personal reflections upon practice on the clinical method before the next intensive skills day and clinical supervision. Problem-based learning – undertaking PBL as part of a group within the classroom supported by the tutor.
Guided independent study20Reading and preparation for seminars
Guided independent study17.5Reading and preparation for problem-based learning, and Personal and Professional Development (PPDs)


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
In-class practical clinical skills competency simulation35 minutesAllOral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Examination (failure in this assessment will lead to failure in the module and the programme)5090 minutesAllWritten
Reflective commentary (failure in this assessment will lead to failure in the module and the programme)501500 wordsAllWritten
Clinical skills competency assessment (this is an assessment of clinical competency and is Pass/Fail only; failure in this assessment will lead to failure in the module and the programme)035 minutesAllOral


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
ExaminationExaminationAllAugust ref/def
Reflective commentaryReflective commentaryAllProgramme Lead to advise
Clinical skills competency assessment (Pass/Fail)Clinical skills competency assessment (Pass/Fail)AllProgramme Lead to advise

Re-assessment notes

Three assessments are required for this module and the re-assessment will be the same format as the original. Where you have been referred/deferred for any form of assessment detailed above you will have the opportunity to retake within four weeks from the date that feedback was provided. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%; deferred marks are not capped.

Clinical competency assessments are pass/fail and outside of academic achievement. These must be passed with a 50% competency score or above with the information gathering and interpersonal skills passed independently with a 5 or more on the competency scale. Failure to pass the clinical competencies within the maximum permissible attempts means that the module cannot be passed and you cannot progress to PSY3304 and will not be able to achieve the PWP training status. Upon request, subject to grades achieved, you may be considered for transfer to the BSc Psychology.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Core reading:

  • Bennett-Levy, J., Richards, D.A, Farrand, P. et al (2010). Oxford Guide to Low Intensity CBT Interventions. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Goldberg, D. and Huxley, P. (1992). Common Mental Health Disorders: A Biosocial Model. London: Routledge.
  • Silverman, J., Kurtz, S. and Draper, J. (2005). Skills for Communicating with Patients. Oxford: Radcliffe

Wider reading:

  • American Psychiatric Association (1994). The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV) 4th ed. Washington DC: American Psychiatric Association.
  • Bazire, S. (2003). Psychotropic Drug Directory 2003/2004: The Professionals Pocket Handbook and Aide Memoire. Salisbury: Fivepin Publishing.
  • Lovell, K. and Richards, D. (2008). A Recovery Programme for Depression. London: Rethink.
  • Myles, P. and Rushforth, D. (2007). A Complete Guide to Primary Care Mental Health. London: Robinson.
  • World Health Organisation (1992). ICD-10 Classification of Mental Health and Behavioural Disorders: Clinical Descriptions and Diagnostic Guidelines. Geneva: World Health Organisation.

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Improving Access to Psychological Therapies, engagement, assessment, common mental health problems, primary care, evidence based psychological therapies, clinical competency

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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