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PSME405 Contemporary Approaches to Mental Health Practice

Collaborative approaches that enhance the self-managing capacities of people experiencing mental disorders. Exploration of frameworks that underpin models of care and lead to more effective outcomes.

Recovery is a concept that is now central to New Zealand mental health policy and care. For practitioners, the challenge is to find ways to translate principles of recovery into everyday practice in meaningful ways whilst also negotiating the tensions it creates with a bio-medical perspective of mental disorder. This paper takes the view that contemporary mental health practice requires workers to assist people to develop a sense of mastery and control over their lives and as such is a practical application of recovery principles. To do this requires mental health workers to be creative and flexible in how they understand mental distress and to have the skills to work collaboratively with people to make meaning from their experiences. It also requires the critical exploration of the barriers that exist to achieving this at both the level of individual practice and organisational systems.

Paper title Contemporary Approaches to Mental Health Practice
Paper code PSME405
Subject Psychological Medicine
EFTS 0.25
Points 30 points
Teaching period Semester 2 (Distance learning)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $3,018.75
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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Limited to
MHealSc, PGCertHealSc, PGDipHealSc

Students must be graduates or have an appropriate three-year tertiary degree and be working in the mental health field.


Teaching staff
Convenor: Dr Dave Carlyle
Paper Structure
  • To expand our creativity as mental health workers in the ways we understand and respond to people in mental distress
  • To critically examine mental health practice and its philosophical motivations
  • To assist practitioners to refocus practice on assisting the consumer to overcome barriers to self-efficacy
Teaching Arrangements

This Distance Learning paper is a combination of remote and in-person teaching.

Two 3-day block workshops to be held in Christchurch. Attendance at all block courses is compulsory.

There are no prescribed texts for this paper, but a reading list of appropriate articles will be provided.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Critical thinking.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete the paper will:

  • Demonstrate the ability to work collaboratively with mental health service users
  • Demonstrate an understanding of interventions that promote self-understanding of mental distress
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the influence of a person's life history upon their present context
  • Discuss practical ways to implement principles of encouraging consumers to safely tell their story
  • Demonstrate an ability to work from a trauma informed perspective
  • Demonstrate an understanding of different psychotherapeutic approaches
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the nature of therapeutic relationships and their relevance to the development of self-understanding
  • Discuss the relevance of a model of care to the way mental health services are provided
  • Critically reflect on their own practice and highlight areas for change

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Semester 2

Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system