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Unit of study_

PSTY5202: Psychodynamic Interpersonal Therapy

Semester 1, 2020 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit offers an introduction to ultra-brief psychodynamic psychotherapy using the evidence-based approach of Psychodynamic -Interpersonal Therapy (PIT) suitable for acute and general medical and mental health practice, including as an approach to Project Air clinics, emergency department presentations, self-harm and psychosomatics. This unit is suitable for interested clinicians from a variety of backgrounds, including counselling, nursing, social work, medicine, psychiatry and psychology. The techniques generalize well to developing the therapeutic relationship. Over the semester students will be able to communicate the strong theory and RCT evidence base of this model and how this model can offer a person-centred and recovery-based approach to trauma-informed care and stepped care. Students will attend some initial training and then group supervision to support their acquisition of knowledge, attitudes and clinical skills in the clinical experience of running 2 brief psychodynamic therapies of 4-8 sessions. Students will bring cases from their workplace or allocated from an affiliated clinical program. Students will apply the basics of assessment and engagement and feeling language, using statements and developing formulations. They will demonstrate the PIT structure including the writing of a good bye letter and collaborative future planning, whether for maintenance, onreferral or further treatment.

Unit details and rules

Unit code PSTY5202
Academic unit Brain and Mind Science
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge

This unit assumes a working clinical knowledge of basic counselling and mental health, commensurate with a clinician having worked 2 or more years in a setting with general health counselling or mental health clients.

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Loyola McLean,
Type Description Weight Due Length

Assessment summary

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100



75 - 84



65 - 74



50 - 64



0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

All readings for this unit can be accessed on the Library eReserve link available on Canvas.

Barkham, M., Guthrie, E., Hardy, G. & Margison, F. Psychodynamic Interpersonal Therapy: A Conversational Model. London: Sage 2017. Hobson R. Forms of Feeling: The Heart of Psychotherapy. Originally London: Tavistock, 1985. Reprint New York: Routledge or e-book copy.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. effectively communicate the theory and evidence base of Psychodynamic Interpersonal Therapy with clinicians, consumers and carers
  • LO2. discuss how this model applies a psychodynamic approach that is person-centred, recovery-focused and trauma-informed and is a tier in stepped care
  • LO3. understand and demonstrate the skill of valuing the consumer’s experience, using statements and feeling language
  • LO4. effectively conduct and demonstrate brief psychodynamic therapy in the Psychodynamic Interpersonal Therapy model, including collaboration, assessment, engagement, finding a focus, feeling language, the problem “alive” in the room, and co-constructing the goodbye letter
  • LO5. apply the concepts of transference, countertransference, co-transference, unconscious repetition, complex trauma, dissociation and coping mechanisms and adaptations as relevant to assessments and cases
  • LO6. develop a collaborative psychodynamic formulation to understand the presenting symptoms or predicament during assessment and consider any reformulation needed for the goodbye letter
  • LO7. appropriately consider and collaborate around future planning, whether for maintenance, on-referral or further treatment
  • LO8. discuss applying the model and its principles to acute and brief care across settings and sectors
  • LO9. write and present a case study that demonstrates a clinical experience of running a Psychodynamic Interpersonal Therapy case, including reflections on the process and the learning for the therapist.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

We value your feedback about any aspect of the unit of study and your experience as a student of Sydney Medical School. To help ensure our courses meet your needs and maintain a high standard, we welcome your feedback at any time and we ask you to complete the Mid-Semester Evaluation Survey and the unit of study Evaluation Survey at the end of the semester. You can also rate any component of the unit using our star rating system found at the bottom of many pages as you progress through the unit. Your ratings and comments are anonymous and specifying what you liked and didn’t like about any of the learning materials, assessment items, discussion forums, feedback etc will help us to target our improvement efforts. Please note that your participation in this unit of study permits de-identified information about your learning experience and interaction with learning resources to be used for the purpose of improving the student learning experience.


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