Course Title: Apply Psychological Concepts and Principles within a Justice Environment

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2011

Course Code: MEDS5038

Course Title: Apply Psychological Concepts and Principles within a Justice Environment

School: 365T Global Studies, Soc Sci & Plng

Campus: City Campus

Program: C6077 - Advanced Diploma of Justice

Course Contact : Melissa Brown

Course Contact Phone: +61 3 99258371

Course Contact

Name and Contact Details of All Other Relevant Staff

Nominal Hours: 68

Regardless of the mode of delivery, represent a guide to the relative teaching time and student effort required to successfully achieve a particular competency/module. This may include not only scheduled classes or workplace visits but also the amount of effort required to undertake, evaluate and complete all assessment requirements, including any non-classroom activities.

Pre-requisites and Co-requisites

No pre-requisite courses but a sound knowledge of APA referencing is needed.

Course Description

This course covers the knowledge and skills required to analyse the psychotherapies relevant to identify and address issues related to offenders and victims within the criminal justice system. It also includes the skills and knowledge required to:

  • implement counselling strategies and processes
  • evaluate psychological disorders prevalent amongst the offender population, and rehabilitate and divert the client group from re-offending.

National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

VBQU380 Apply Psychological Concepts and Principles within a Justice Environment


1. Analyse the psychotherapies most relevant to treating offending behaviour in the criminal justice environment.

Performance Criteria:

1.1 Core concepts of the psychotherapies are examined.
1.2 An analysis of psychotherapies is conducted to distinguish between complimentary and conflicting concepts.
1.3 Appropriate psychotherapies are applied for the treatment of non-psychotic disorders.
1.4 Cognitive-behavioural psychotherapy strategies are developed to deal with offending behaviour.


2. Investigate and apply counselling practices and processes in the criminal justice environment.

Performance Criteria:

2.1 An analysis is undertaken to identify variables leading to a value conflict in working with clients, and strategies are developed to address identified conflicts.
2.2 Key stages of the counselling process are identified.
2.3 Specific counselling tools are applied to conduct a counselling session.
2.4 Counselling case note recording system is implemented.
2.5 Counselling tools to address offending behaviour and in treating non-psychotic disorders, are investigated.


3. Analyse psychological disorders prevalent amongst offenders in Victoria.

Performance Criteria:

3.1 Identified characteristics of abnormal behaviour are examined.
3.2 The implications of the law on the definitions of abnormal behaviour are investigated.
3.3 An analysis is conducted to differentiate between the historical and contemporary understanding of the causes and treatment of abnormal behaviour.
3.4 Factors associated with the cause of mental illness with particular reference to the offender population are analysed.
3.5 Psychological disorders most prevalent amongst the juvenile and adult offender population in Victoria are examined.


4. Review assessment tools and treatment options for forensic clients in Victoria.

Performance Criteria:

4.1 Psychological and psycho-educational assessment tools are investigated and applied to identify client problems and facilitate change.
4.2 Current assessment tools used in the criminal justice system to address offending behaviours within Victoria are examined.
4.3 Impact of variables on assessment outcomes is analysed.
4.4 Key components of a treatment plan are identified.
4.5 A treatment plan is developed to address a non-psychotic illness.
4.6 Treatment programs available for forensic clients are investigated, and a resource folder is developed.


5. Analyse psychological principles relevant to specialized groups within the criminal justice environment.

Performance Criteria:

5.1 The psychological principles and practices most relevant in responding to the needs of specialized groups are examined.
5.2 Treatment programs available for the specialized group are investigated.
5.3 Treatment plan to address the issues experienced by an individual from one of the specialized groups in the community and/or custodial setting is developed to assist with rehabilitation and diversion from further offending.

Learning Outcomes

See Elements

Details of Learning Activities

The subject aims to enable students to:
1. Analyse the psychotherapies most relevant to treating offending behaviour in the criminal justice environment
2. Investigate and apply counselling practices and processes in the criminal justice environment
3. Analyse psychological disorders prevalent among offenders in Victoria
4. Review assessment tools and treatment options for forensic clients in Victoria
5. Analyse psychological principles relevant to specialised groups within the criminal justice environment

Teaching Schedule

Week One: Introduction and Overview of Subject;Library Resources and Websites

Week Two: Introduction to Psychology

Week Three: Learning v Conditioning; Motivation and Emotion; Psychology of personality 

Week Four: Counselling Skills/Models

Week Five: Intro to Psychotherapies (Group 2A)

Week Six: Intro to Psychotherapies (Group 2B)

Week Seven: Suicide, Self-harm & Schizophrenia

Week Eight: Mental Illness and Crime

Week Nine: Assessment tools and treatment options

Week Ten: Victims of Crime

Week Eleven: Forensic Psychology

Week Twelve: Psychological Disorders-workshop

Week Thirteen: Psychological Disorders-workshop

Week Fourteen: Drug, Alcohol & Addictions

Week Fifteen: Family Violence and child abuse

Week Sixteen: Sex Offenders

Week Seventeen: Exam preparation

Week Eighteen: Exam

Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts


Other Resources

RMIT library has an extensive collection of Psychology texts, some of which are listed below, but students are expected to conduct independent research. If using websites, ensure they are valid. For example, Australian Psychological Association, Department of Human Services, mental health branch, Forensicare etc. The Australia Institute of Criminology (AIC) also provide valuable information pertaining to offender psychological status, needs, and treatment programs available in custodial centres and within the community.

Barlow, D. (2007). Clinical Handbook of Psychological Disorders (4th Edition).New York: Guildford Press.

Corsini, R.J., & Wedding, D. (2010). Current Psychotherapies. Belmont, CA:Wadsworth/Thompson Learning.

Davison, G., Neale, J., & Kring, A. (2009). Abnormal Psychology (11th Edition).USA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Egan, G. (2009). The Skilled Helper: A Problem-Management and Opportunity-Development Approach to Helping (9th Edition). Pacific Grove, CA:BrooksCole/Thomson Learning.

Jongsma, A., & Peterson, M. (2006). The Complete Adult Psychotherapy Treatment Planner (4th Edition). Canada: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Powell. T. (2000). The Mental Health Handbook (2nd Edition). Oxon: Winslow Press.

Overview of Assessment

Students will be required to design a treatment plan, deliver an oral presentation, and sit a written exam, addressing the main elements of the course. Participation in in-class role-plays and discussions, writing in a reflective journal, and analysis of case studies handed out for homework, will also support the learning outcomes relevant to the key competencies.

Assessment Tasks

  • Mental Health Disorders Workshop Presentation (35%)
  • Treatment Case Plan (30%)
  • Exam (20%)
  • Reflective journal (15%)

Students will be provided a detailed handout of each of the above assessments that includes the assessment outline, the assessment criteria and the due date by the second week of the semester.

Assessment Matrix

The assessment has been designed to cover all Learning Outcomes and will be graded in accordance with RMIT’s Mark Table 7 which is as follows:
HD 80-100, DI 70-79, CR 60-69, PA 50-59, NN 0-49

All written work must adhere to the following criteria:
1. Written reports, research projects or essays are to demonstrate an understanding of the concepts and familiarity with the prescribed or negotiated topics
2. It is expected that all submitted work will be well written, with clear and consistent grammar, expression and punctuation. It must be well structured and cogently address the issues raised in the chosen topic in a logical, ordered and organised manner
3. The concepts must be well defined and demonstrate a critical analysis of the chosen topic
4. Written submissions must demonstrate appropriate preparation, reading and research
5. In-text references must follow the APA style of referencing. In addition, you must provide a bibliography with correct and comprehensive details in relation to texts, articles, research reports and other sources that you have used
6. Double or 1.5 spacing and a font size of 10-12 must be used

Other Information

Assessment Deadlines
Any due date for any assignment is to be considered a deadline. Students can submit work at any time prior to the submission date, but it must be into the Administration office by close of business of the day the submission is due.
Extensions will not be granted by teachers or Administrative staff.
In accordance with RMIT policy, students may apply for an extension where there have been unexpected or extenuating circumstances, e.g.
a) Hospital admission, serious injury, severe asthma, severe anxiety or depression. This does not include minor illness such as a cold, period pain or hay fever.
b) Loss or bereavement – e.g. death of a close family member, family/relationship breakdown.
c) Hardship/trauma – e.g. victim of crime, sudden loss of income or employment, severe disruption to domestic arrangements.

Students requiring extensions for 7 calendar days or less (from the original due date) must complete and lodge an Application for Extension of Submittable Work (7 Calendar Days or less) form and lodge it with the Program Coordinator/ Program Manager. The application must be lodged no later than one working day before the official due date. The student will be notified within no more than 2 working days of the date of lodgment as to whether the extension has been granted.

Students seeking an extension of more than 7 calendar days (from the original due date) must lodge an Application for Special Consideration form under the provisions of the Special Consideration Policy, preferably prior to, but no later than 2 working days after the official due date.

Assignments submitted late without approval of an extension will not be accepted or graded.

Students must keep a copy of their paper until the graded essay has been returned or marks have been posted.
Plagiarism is the presentation of the work, idea or creation of another person, without appropriate referencing as though it is one’s own. Plagiarism is not acceptable. It is a form of cheating and is a very serious academic offence that may lead to expulsion from the University. Plagiarised material can be drawn from, and presented in, written, graphic and visual form, including electronic data, and oral presentations. Plagiarism occurs when the origin of the material used is not appropriately cited.

You must acknowledge the use of another person’s work or ideas. If texts or ideas are reproduced they are to be clearly acknowledged in one of the conventional ways, such as by use of quotation marks, indentation for longer passages and clear citation of the source. Failure to separate one’s own contribution from that of another constitutes plagiarism – a form of cheating and may result in outright failure. Random checks will be made on students’ work.

Other Information: All email communications will be sent to your RMIT email address.

Course Overview: Access Course Overview