Psychodynamic Observation for Counsellors

The details
Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 6
Thursday 03 October 2024
Friday 27 June 2025
13 June 2024


Requisites for this module
PA210 and PA211



Key module for

DIPLC89A09 Psychodynamic Approaches,
DIPLC89A24 Psychodynamic Approaches,
MA C89D36 Psychodynamic Counselling and Psychotherapy (3 year),
MA C89D48 Psychodynamic Counselling and Psychotherapy (4 year),
MA C89DFD Psychodynamic Counselling and Psychotherapy (3 year)

Module description

Observation is a key tool for both practitioners and researchers in psychodynamic disciplines. This module gives students the opportunity to become acquainted with the value of this method of investigation into the human mind and human interactions, and to develop the skills and awareness of a psychodynamic observer.

This module aims to provide students with a theoretical and practice-based understanding of psychodynamic observation and the skill and qualities involved. In addition, students will be developing professional skills involved in assessment and case presentation.

They will learn to apply their growing grasp of psychodynamic theory to everyday events and encounters and to develop their appreciation of the role of unconscious and emotional communication in ordinary life. This will enable them to become perceptive in terms of detail and more subtle in their understanding of the meaning of what they observe and what they themselves bring to the learning experience. It will enable them to reflect on their own process in observations and in groups and to become more self-aware. They will become more alert to first, the conscious and unconscious ways in which their capacity to observe and how they interpret what they observe are influenced by their experiences, and second, the implications of this in relation to self-awareness as an essential element in becoming a psychodynamic counsellor.

Alongside their observation seminars, which have an experiential element, students are also developing a psychodynamic approach to reflective practice. There will be reflective groups at intervals where the students reflect on their own experience of membership of the course and the impact of the course on them. These activities encourage and support the conscious use of self in social and professional relationships, the experience of 'learning from action' and a recognition of oneself as a 'participant observer' in different contexts. The reflective components help recognition of and development of the personal qualities required in a psychodynamic counsellor.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  •  To develop a keener eye for the detail of human behaviour and interaction

  • To increase awareness of the role of emotional communication and the unconscious in everyday events and encounters 

  • To understand the application of psychodynamic concepts and insights to all aspects of human experience 

  • To lay the foundations for psychodynamic observation as a key skill in psychodynamic practice

  • To develop skills related to psychodynamic assessment, case presentation and reflective practice

  • To establish a reflective space for acknowledging and processing the emotional and psychological implications of the material studied on this course

  • To develop the capacity for self-reflection and an awareness of the influence of one's own processes and personal experiences

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module. students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Apply key psychodynamic concepts to observed individuals and relationships

  2. Have an introductory knowledge of key ideas and aims of reflective practice

  3. Observe detail and to perceive subtle indications of emotional and unconscious dynamics

  4. Appreciate the role of conscious and unconscious mechanisms in relationships

  5. Be aware of the use of psychodynamic observation in work with clients

  6. Apply psychodynamic thinking to everyday situations

  7. Reflect on your own process in the observing and in the learning contexts

  8. Be increasingly reflexive and recognise the relationship between self-awareness and therapeutic care

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

This module consists of seminars to which students will bring written accounts of observations they have made. Students will observe individuals and interactions in the community and in the workplace and write accounts of what they have seen and experienced, which will be discussed in the seminar group to elicit greater understanding of the situations and dynamics described.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Assessed observation    25% 
Coursework   Observation commentary     75% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Susan Kegerreis, email:
Professor Susan Kegerreis
Student Administrator 5A.202; Telephone 01206 873745; email Email:



External examiner

Mr Mike Keating
Wessex Counselling and Psychotherapy
Head of Training
Available via Moodle
Of 107 hours, 87 (81.3%) hours available to students:
12 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
8 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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