module specification

PC6061 - Understanding psychopathology in counselling practice (2021/22)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2021/22
Module title Understanding psychopathology in counselling practice
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Social Sciences and Professions
Total study hours 150
111 hours Guided independent study
39 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Practical Examination 50%   Group practical activity
Coursework 50%   Case formulation
Running in 2021/22
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Tuesday Afternoon

Module summary

This module introduces students to psychopathology in counselling practice to support the development of students’ skills in working with clients with complex needs. The module aims to critically appraise key perspectives and approaches to the use of counselling in mental health as well as to evaluate diagnoses, explanations and treatments in the develop of a case formulation. Students will have the opportunity to investigate the role played by physiological, psychological and social mechanisms in the causation and treatment of physical illness and psychological disorders.

Students will gain experience in constructing case reports thus providing an additional transferable skill for future employment.


Psychopathology, mental health, case formulation, complex needs, team working, supporting clients.

Learning Outcomes LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Delivery and discussion of the module syllabi will be via interactive lectures and tutorials. In addition to the weekly seminar workshops which will provide a forum for the application of theory to practical problems, students are expected to work in groups to learn from each other and learn how to independently use other resources available, e.g. library, the internet, WebLearn and own organisation. The module will also have its own dedicated Web Learn site to enables staff and students to readily contact each other and offers an on-line support/learning.

Workshops and seminars:

Information and materials relating to the workshop will be circulated once the course has commenced.   The seminars and workshops will familiarize students with various aspect of the course.  All workshops will relate to lecture topics and may be tested in the examination.   Hence, each student is expected to do the prior reading and consult few recommended texts and be actively involved in the seminar activities and group discussion.

The usual programme each week will comprise of a lecture followed by seminar workshop activities and group discussion. The workshops will use the content of the lecture and pre-circulated material for class discussion and group work. 

Students will gain core knowledge and understanding of the topics through lectures, but deeper understanding, evaluation and skill development will be promoted through directed study of recommended reading material, seminars, and online resources.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will:

1) Have a critical awareness of a range of core topic areas and related research in counselling and psychopathology
2) Critically appreciate the principles of diagnosis, assessment, formulation and treatment planning for a range of mental disorders.
2) Be able to demonstrate the ability to work as a team in case formulation and in supporting clients with mental health problems.
3) To develop critical reflexive skills in team working activities.
4) Be able to respect differences in pleural society and cultural values of minority groups and those from varying socioeconomic backgrounds.

Assessment strategy

An assessment based on a group examination (50%) and the submission of a case formulation and reflexive overview (50%) based on the group examination.

A group recorded activity based on a clinical presentation of a psychopathological case study will focus on support through a counselling perspective. In groups of approximately 4, students will aim to work as a team to devise and discuss best practice to support a clinical case study.  This will be video-recorded.

Based on the first assessment component students will develop a case formulation (based on the 5 Ps) and provide a critical overview of their involvement in the group along with mention of the group dynamics involved. The case study will be presented on the day of the assessment.


American Psychiatric Association (APA, 2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th Ed.  Arlington. American Psychiatric Publishing. Washington (Core).

Claringbull, N., (2011). Mental Health in Counselling and Psychotherapy. 1st ed. Los Angeles and London: SAGE.

Corrie, S., Townend, M., & Cockx, A., (2016). Assessment and Case Formulation in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Los Angeles and London: SAGE. (Core)

Davey, G., (2014) Psychopathology: Research, Assessment and Treatment in Clinical Psychology. BPS Blackwell. (Core)

Joseph, S., (2017). The Hand-Book of Person-Centred Therapy and Mental Health: Theory, Research and Practice. Monmouth: PCCS Books. (Core)

Kirk, H.W., Weisbrod, J.O.A., Ericson, K.A., (2003). Psychosocial and Behavioural Aspects of Medicine. Baltimore and Philadelphia. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Milner, J & O’Byrne, P (2003). Assessment in Counselling: theory, process and decision making. 3rd ed. Hampshire, New York, Palgrave.

Neenan, M.,& Palmer, S.,  (2012). Cognitive Behavioural Coaching in Practice: An Evidence Based Approach (Essential Coaching Skills and Knowledge). 1st. . New York and London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis. (Core)

Powell, T., (2009). The Mental Health Handbook, A Cognitive Behavioural Approach. 3rd eds. New York and London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis.

Van, R.B., (2015). Assessment and Case Formulation in Counselling and Psychotherapy, Los Angeles and London: SAGE. (Core).