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Engagement and Assessment of Patients with Common Mental Health Problems

Module titleEngagement and Assessment of Patients with Common Mental Health Problems
Module codePYC3019
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Miss Sophie Brooks (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

PWPs assess and support people with common mental health problems in the self-management of their recovery. In this module you will learn how to undertake a range of patient-centred assessments and how to identify the main areas of concern relevant to the assessment undertaken. You will acquire knowledge and competence to enable you to apply these in a range of different assessment formats and settings. These different elements or types of assessment include screening/triage assessment within an IAPT service; risk assessment; provisional diagnostic assessment; mental health clustering assessment; psychometric assessment (using the IAPT standardised symptoms measures); problem focused assessment; and intervention planning assessment. In all these assessments you will need to be able to engage patients and establish an appropriate relationship whilst gathering information in a collaborative manner.

You will obtain knowledge of mental health disorders and the evidence-based therapeutic options available and be able to communicate this knowledge in a clear and unambiguous way so that people can make informed treatment choices. In addition you will develop knowledge of the COM-B behaviour change model and how this can inform choice of goals and interventions. This module will equip you with a good understanding of the incidence, prevalence and presentation of common mental health problems and evidence-based treatment choices. Skills teaching will develop your ‘core common factors’ competencies of active listening, engagement, alliance building, patient-centred information gathering, information giving and shared decision making.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim of this module is to develop your core ‘common factors’ competencies in communication skills and collaborative working and, along with a good understanding of common mental health problems and evidence-based treatment choices, enabling you to apply these skills to undertake an effective low intensity CBT-based assessment and plan a collaborative treatment programme.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Describe in detail and evaluate critically concepts of mental health and mental illness, diagnostic category systems in mental health and a range of social, medical and psychological explanatory models
  • 2. Apply competently the principles, purposes and different types of assessment undertaken with people with common mental health disorders
  • 3. Use competently ‘common factors’ to engage patients, gather information, build a therapeutic alliance with people with common mental health problems, manage the emotional content of sessions and grasp the client’s perspective or “world view”
  • 4. Gather ‘patient-centred’ information to arrive at a succinct and collaborative definition of the person’s main mental health difficulties and the impact this has on their daily living
  • 5. Recognise and describe in detail patterns of symptoms consistent with diagnostic categories of mental disorder from a patient centred interview
  • 6. Demonstrate knowledge of, and competence in accurate risk assessment to patient or others
  • 7. Use standardised assessment tools including symptom and other psychometric instruments to aid problem recognition and definition and subsequent decision making
  • 8. Use competently behaviour change models in identifying intervention goals and choice of appropriate interventions
  • 9. Give evidence-based information about treatment choices and make shared decisions with patients
  • 10. Comprehend and evaluate critically the patient’s attitude to a range of mental health treatments including prescribed medication and evidence-based psychological treatments

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 11. Summarise basic and essential factual and conceptual knowledge of the subject, and demonstrate a critical understanding of this knowledge
  • 12. Review and evaluate established work and 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...

  • 13. Record accurately interviews and questionnaire assessments using paper and electronic record-keeping systems
  • 14. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, challenge received opinion and develop your own criteria and judgement, and seek and make use of feedback

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

The module content, module-specific learning objectives, style of delivery and assessment for this module are as informed by the UCL (2015) revised curriculum for the training of Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners to support the delivery of low intensity CBT associated with the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme. Teaching content will include:

Knowledge Concerning Core Competencies, Assessment of Common Mental Health Problems

  • Issues and ethical codes of conduct in relation to practice as a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner
  • 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
  • Treatment choices and shared decision making
  • Patient attitude and effect on medication and psychological therapy treatment choice
  • Electronic record-keeping systems
  • Recording of interviews and pencil-based questionnaire assessments

Intensive Skills Practice

  • Use of ‘common factors’ communication skills to effectively engage clients and develop and maintain an effective therapeutic alliance and engagement with the CBT self-help intervention process
  • 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 Teaching25Practical classes – these will be used to develop clinical competencies in assessment and engagement through tutor supervised small group role-play
Scheduled Learning and Teaching7Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching10Seminars – these will be led by the tutor and address a range of important topics covered in the module
Scheduled Learning and Teaching8Tutorials – these will take the form of small group sessions led by the tutor
Guided independent study80Reading and preparation for seminars in ‘flipped classroom’ delivery model
Guided independent study50Self-practice and self-reflection on role plays of assessments with fellow students undertaken outside of teaching sessions
Guided independent study20Develop an understanding of service related clinical protocols, policies and procedures to inform practice, and develop knowledge of role


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Clinical skills competency assessment45 minutes2-10Oral
Formative exams used in-class and on flipped classroom directed learning5-10 minutes each battery of questions1-11Oral

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
Essay (this assessment must be passed; failure in this assessment will lead to failure in the module)301500 words1-12Written and oral
Clinical skills competency assessment of an assessment of a patient’s mental health, comprising six sections (this assessment must be passed with a mark of 18/36 overall and with marks of 3/6 in sections 2, 3, 4 and 6; failure in this assessment will result in a maximum fail mark of 49 and lead to failure in the module)7045 minutes2-10Written and oral
Clinical practice outcome – assessment of service level applied competencies undertaken in clinical practice and is pass/fail only (this assessment must be passed; failure in this assessment will lead to failure in the module)0n/a2-11, 13-14Written and oral


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-12Four weeks from the date feedback was provided
Clinical skills competency assessmentClinical skills competency assessment2-10Four weeks from the voluntary additional top up skills date
Clinical practice outcomeClinical practice outcome2-11, 13-14Four weeks from the date feedback was provided

Re-assessment notes

Three assessments are required for this module. In all cases re-assessment will be the same as the original assessment. 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 pass re-assessments taken as a result of deferral, your re-assessment will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment and the overall module mark will not be capped.

If you pass re-assessments taken as a result of referral (i.e. following initial failure in the assessment), the overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

If you fail re-assessments taken as a result of referral (i.e. following initial failure in the assessment), you will be failed in the module and as a consequence you will be failed in the programme and your registration as a student of the University will be terminated.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Core reading:

  • Bennett-Levy, J., Richards, D., Farrand, P. et al (2010). Oxford Guide to Low Intensity CBT Interventions. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Bennett-Levy, J., Thwaites, R., Haarhoff, B. & Perry, H. (2015). Experiencing CBT from the Inside Out: A Self-Practice/Self-Reflection Workbook for Therapists. Guilford, New York.
  • Farrand, P. (2020). Low-Intensity CBT Skills and Interventions. London: SAGE.
  • Silverman, J., Kurtz, S. and Draper, J. (2005). Skills for Communicating with Patients. Oxford: Radcliffe.

Wider reading:

  • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Desk reference to the diagnostic criteria from DSM-5. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing.
  • Bazire, S. (2018). Psychotropic Drug Directory 2018: The Professionals Pocket Handbook and Aide Memoire. Salisbury: Fivepin Publishing.
  • Goldberg, D. and Huxley, P. (1992). Common Mental Health Disorders: A Biosocial Model. London: Routledge.
  • Layard, R., & Clark, D. M. (2014). Thrive: The power of evidence-based psychological therapies. London: Penguin Group.
  • Michie, S., van Stralen M.M., & West, R. (2011). The behaviour change wheel: A new method for characterising and designing behaviour change interventions. Implementation Science, 6, 42
  • Myles, P. and Rushforth, D. (2007). A Complete Guide to Primary Care Mental Health. London: Robinson.

Key words search

Improving Access to Psychological Therapies, IAPT, low intensity, cognitive behavioural therapy, common mental health problems, primary care, evidence based psychological therapies, clinical competency

Credit value20
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites

PYC3020 Evidence-Based Low Intensity Treatment for Common Mental Health Problems and PYC3021 Values, Diversity and Context

NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date