Observation Skills for Counselling

The details
Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 05 October 2023
Friday 15 December 2023
21 January 2022


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA L333 Criminology with Counselling Skills,
BA L334 Criminology with Counselling Skills (Including Year Abroad),
BA L335 Criminology with Counselling Skills (Including Placement Year),
BA L330 Sociology with Counselling Skills (Including Placement Year),
BA L331 Sociology with Counselling Skills (Including Year Abroad),
BA L332 Sociology with Counselling Skills

Module description

This module aims to provide students with an understanding of psychodynamic observation and the skill and qualities involved. In addition, students will start to be develop 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 participate in learning is influenced by their experiences, and second, the way their own self-awareness affects their capacity to provide therapeutic attention to others.

Alongside their observation seminars, which have an experiential element, students are also developing a psychodynamic approach to Reflective Practice. There will be activities designed to encourage and support the conscious use of self (self awareness) in social and professional relationships, to provide the experience of 'learning from action' and a recognition of oneself as a 'participant observer' in different contexts. The reflective components bring the theoretical learning to life in order to enhance future capacity to practice.

Module aims


* 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 employability 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

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module students should have:

1. Familiarity with the application of key psychodynamic concepts to observed individuals and relationships
2. An introductory knowledge of key ideas and aims of reflective practice
3. Greater ability to observe detail and to perceive subtle indications of emotional and unconscious dynamics
4. Familiarity with the role of conscious and unconscious mechanisms in relationships
5. Awareness of the use of psychodynamic observation in work with clients
6. The capacity to apply psychodynamic thinking to everyday situations
7. The capacity to reflect on one's own process in the observing and in the learning contexts
8. To be increasingly reflexive and recognise the relationship between of self-awareness and therapeutic practice.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

Each week students will observe out in the community or in the workplace/placement and write detailed accounts of what they have observed. Later in the module, they will take it in turns to bring observations to the seminar groups for discussion. There is a reading list of texts on the subject of observation which will underpin the approach. There will be a series of Reflective Groups.


The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course.
The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students.
Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

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
Dr Marita Vyrgioti, email:
From Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies
Student administrator 01206 874969 Room 5A.202



External examiner

Mr Mike Keating
Wessex Counselling and Psychotherapy
Head of Training
Available via Moodle
Of 20 hours, 20 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 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.

Disclaimer: The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its Module Directory is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to programmes, modules, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to modules may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery or assessment of modules and other services, to discontinue modules and other services and to merge or combine modules. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications and module directory.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.