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Fundamental Skills: Assessment and Engagement

Module titleFundamental Skills: Assessment and Engagement
Module codePYC3023
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Dr Robert Kidney (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks



Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

Child and adolescent mental health practitioners assess children, young people and families with a range of mental health problems. This assessment must reflect the child and their family’s perspective and must be conducted with the child’s and family’s needs paramount. The assessment should reflect a shared understanding of the child or young person’s current difficulties and inform how decisions are made with the family about the best next steps for the child and the family. Possible next steps include giving advice and psycho-education, referral to another agency, care within the multidisciplinary Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) team (e.g. for medication or formal psychological therapy) or a low intensity intervention (e.g. guided self-help, brief behavioural activation) delivered by the practitioner themselves.

As a Wellbeing Practitioner for Child and Young People (CWP) or Education Mental Health Practitioner (EMHP) you must be able to undertake a child-centred interview which identifies the child’s current difficulties, their goals and those of their family/parents, their strengths and resources and any risk to self or others. You need to understand the child in the context of their family, culture, wider social environment, developmental stage and temperament. You need to engage the child or young person and their carer(s) and other family members and to establish therapeutic alliances. You need to gather appropriate information from different sources, be able to make sense of this and with the family develop a shared understanding. You also need to understand how the child’s difficulties fit within a diagnostic framework, identify other physical, developmental or psychological difficulties (e.g. epilepsy, autistic spectrum disorders, impact of life experiences) and know what evidence-based interventions are likely to be appropriate.

No formal pre-requisites are required but you must be able to demonstrate familiarity with diagnostic systems such as the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) and/or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as a helpful shorthand to describe symptom patterns and familiarity with standard models and approaches for anxiety disorders, depression, and other disorders with an evidence-base for both the models and the treatment.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aims of the module are to equip WPCYPs and EMHPs with a good understanding of the incidence, prevalence and presentation of common mental health problems and evidenced-based treatment choices. Skills teaching will develop core competences in active listening, engagement, alliance building, patient-centred information gathering, information giving and shared decision-making.

We will aim to show you how to:

  • Assess and identify areas of difficulty (including risk) and establish main areas for change.
  • Establish and maintain a working therapeutic alliance and engage the child/young person/family to support them in self-management of recovery.
  • Identify and differentiate between common mental health problems in CYP.
  • Navigate and signpost to appropriate interventions.
  • Use routine outcome measures and standardised assessment tools effectively.
  • Support both face to face and remotely completed assessments

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 children and young people with common mental health disorders
  • 3. Use competently ‘common factors’ to engage CYP and their parents / carer, gather information, build a therapeutic alliance with CYP and parents / carrers with common mental health problems, manage the emotional content of sessions and grasp the client’s perspective or “world view”
  • 4. Gather ‘CYP patient-centred’ information to arrive at a succinct and collaborative definition of the child or young 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 CYP patient-centred interview
  • 6. Demonstrate knowledge of, and competence in accurate risk assessment to CYP, parents/ carers 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 CYP and parents / carers
  • 10. Comprehend and evaluate critically the CYP attitude to a range of mental health treatments including prescribed medication and evidence-based psychological treatments
  • 11. To be able to assess, engage, and identify next steps when working in person or remotely via a telephonic or digital platform.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 12. Summarise basic and essential factual and conceptual knowledge of the subject, and demonstrate a critical understanding of this knowledge
  • 13. 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...

  • 14. Record accurately interviews and questionnaire assessments using paper and electronic record-keeping systems
  • 15. 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 curriculum for the training of WPCYPs and EMHPs to support the delivery of low intensity CBT/ parent therapy 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 WPCYP or EMHP
  • 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
  • Assessment using different contact methods (in person or remote)
  • Patient attitude and effect 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 teaching25Lectures
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 teaching6Tutorials – these will take the form of small group sessions led by the tutor
Guided independent study64Reading and preparation for seminars in ‘flipped classroom’ delivery model
Guided independent study30Self-practice and self-reflection on role plays of assessments with fellow students undertaken outside of teaching sessions
Guided independent study40Develop 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 assessment1 hour2-11Written
Reflective commentary 1000 words1-13Written

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
Clinical skills competency assessment of an assessment of a patient’s mental health, (this assessment must be passed; failure in this assessment will lead to failure in the module and the programme)601 hour2-11Written
Reflective commentary (this assessment must be passed; failure in this assessment will lead to failure in the module and the programme)401000 words1-13Written
Practice outcome document – assessment of service level applied competencies undertaken in clinical practice (this assessment is pass/fail only and must be passed; failure in this assessment will lead to failure in the module and the programme)01200 words2-12, 14-15Written


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Clinical skills competency assessmentClinical skills competency assessment2-11Eight weeks from the date feedback was provided
Reflective commentary Reflective commentary 1-13Four weeks from the date feedback was provided
Practice outcome documentPractice outcome document2-12, 14-15Four weeks from the date feedback was provided

Re-assessment notes

Three summative 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 the period specified above from the date that feedback was provided.

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%. (The clinical skills competency pass mark is 50%)

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:

  • Child IAPT National curriculum (2012). London: Department of Health
  • Roth, A.D., & Pilling, S. (2007). Core competencies required to deliver effective psychological therapies. London: HMSO, Department of Health.
  • Fonagy, P., & Target, M. (2005). What works for whom: A critical review for children and adolescents. London: Routledge
  • 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.
  • Silverman, J., Kurtz, S., & Draper, J. (2005). Skills for communicating with patients. Oxford: Radcliffe.

Wider reading:

  • Bazire, S. (2016). Psychotropic drug directory 2016: The professionals’ pocket handbook and aide memoire. Shaftesbury: Lloyd-Reinhold Publications Ltd.
  • Goldberg, D., & Huxley, P. (1992). Common mental health disorders: A biosocial model. London: Routledge.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Improving Access to Psychological Therapies, IAPT, assessment and engagement , wellbeing practitioners, CYP, children and young people, 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

PYC3022 Children and Young People’s Mental Health Settings: Context and Values and PYC3024 Evidence-based Interventions for Common Mental Health Problems with Children and Young People (Theory and Skills)

NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date