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Unit of study_

PSTY5202: Psychodynamic Interpersonal Therapy

Semester 1, 2021 [Online] - Westmead, 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


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Loyola McLean,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Presentation Oral Examination
Case presentation and recorded/transcribed session
35% Formal exam period n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO9 LO8 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Case study final
35% STUVAC 3000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9
Assignment Case study draft - Initial Assessment & Formulation
10% Week 08 2000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9
Skills-based evaluation Supervision log-book and weekly discussion boards
Skills development
20% Weekly 10 examples
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO9 LO8 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2

Assessment summary

  • Supervision log-book: From the start of semester prepare for and attend supervision, run your Psychodynamic Interpersonal Therapy cases and prepare for and participate in the discussion boards. Use the log-book to document your Psychodynamic Interpersonal Therapy skills and skills in using supervision and 10 examples of your discussion board participation. Have the skills attempts and completion marked off by your supervisor in face-to-face supervision or via email of the relevant part of your log-book; document your participation in the discussion boards as described in the log-book by collating and attaching the posts and the responses (2 for each discussion board).
  • Case study draft: Write a detailed assessment, formulation and initial PIT management plan for one of your Psychodynamic Interpersonal Therapy cases.
  • Case study final: In this final written submission you will submit your full case study incorporating feedback from assessment 2 (the draft) on the assessment, formulation and initial management plan and then you will add your account of the progress and ending of therapy and your journey as a therapist.
  • Oral examination (Final exam): This assessment asks you to present one of your Psychodynamic Interpersonal Therapy cases to two examiners including a summary of the presentation and formulation, intial management plan and progress and then share 1) a sessional selection of 3-5 minutes from  a session in the ending phase, either from audio recording or transcript or both and  2) the goodbye letter. This presentation will last 30 minutes in total, allowing the examiners time to then discuss the case with you for 15 minutes.
Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

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.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

All assignments must be submitted by the due date. Students are expected to manage their time and to prioritise tasks to meet deadlines. Assessment items submitted after the due date without an approved extension using a special consideration or special arrangement form or request will incur the following penalties: • Late assignments that have not been granted extensions and are of a standard to receive a pass or higher mark will attract a penalty of 5% of the maximum mark per day (or part there of) late including weekend days (e.g. if the assignment is worth 40 marks, the penalty is 2 marks per day late) until the mark reaches 50% of the maximum mark (e.g. 20 marks if the maximum is 40 marks). • Assignments that are not of a pass standard will not have marks deducted and will fail regardless. • Assignments submitted more than 10 days late without prior approval from the unit of study coordinator will not be accepted and will be given a zero (0) mark.

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
Multiple weeks 2 x psychodynamic therapies of 4-8 weekly sessions Clinical practice (9.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9
Clinical supervision Tutorial (13 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9
Week 01 PIT in context: introduction to the model and its hallmarks Online class (2.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 02 Getting started: the core PIT model, competency overview and opening the toolbox Online class (2.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 03 Communicating: the shared understanding and the evidence base Online class (2.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 04 The process of change for consumer and therapist Online class (2.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 05 Trauma-Informed approaches Online class (2.5 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 06 Advancing in the skills and moving towards goodbye Online class (2.5 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 07 The case study Online class (2.5 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9
Week 08 Recovery focus Online class (2.5 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 09 Growing as a PIT therapist: developing adherence to the model Online class (2.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9
Week 10 Relationship to mental health and general practice settings, across the continuum of care and across disciplines Online class (2.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9
Week 11 Communicating and developing the evidence: conversations, presentations, practice-led research and beyond Online class (2.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9
Week 12 Integration, application and extension Online class (2.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9
Week 13 Where to from here in PIT? Online class (2.5 hr) LO9
Weekly Weekly Grand Rounds (1hr/week) Online class (13 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9

Attendance and class requirements

Grand rounds
Students are required to attend or watch the weekly one-hour presentations by faculty or invited speakers on topics of interest and relevance to Trauma-informed Psychotherapy.

Weekly discussion forums

Discussions boards open at the start of each week. You will need to make a post and respond to your peers posts by the due dates.

Weekly supervisions

Will be conducted in groups of 2 over 45 minutes on a weekly basis. You 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, on-referral or further treatment.

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

  • 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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