Infant Observation and Assessment Skills

Subject PSYT90081 (2015)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2015.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2015:

Semester 2, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 27-Jul-2015 to 25-Oct-2015
Assessment Period End 20-Nov-2015
Last date to Self-Enrol 07-Aug-2015
Census Date 31-Aug-2015
Last date to Withdraw without fail 25-Sep-2015

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 15 hours
Total Time Commitment:

170 hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Clinical experience in a child health or mental health or child welfare setting.

Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


Assoc Prof Campbell Paul


Academic Contact

A/Prof Brigid Jordan

Administrative contact

Victoria Kingsley


Subject Overview:

This subject will introduce students to the skills of observation of infant and toddler behaviour and communication and family interactions. The method of infant observation as developed by Esther Bick, and the application of the Bick Method of infant observation in mental health and psychotherapeutic practice will be addressed.

Students should note that attending and undertaking activities in this subject will not be possible without at current Working with Children Check.

Learning Outcomes:
  • To prepare students for the theoretical, ethical and practical aspects of undertaking of an infant observation according to the Bick method in preparation for the second year subjects Infant Observation 1 and Infant Observation 2.
  • To demonstrate interviewing and assessment skills needed for clinical practice with infants and toddlers at different ages
  • To demonstrate the different modalities of communication that can be used to directly engage infants in a clinical situation (e.g., gesture and play)
  • To demonstrate the use of videotaping of clinical interviews to assist in articulating observations in clinical settings.
  • Reflective essay incorporating a plan for an infant observation of 2,500 words due end of semester (worth 50%)
  • Case study of 2,500 words due end of semester (worth 50%)
Prescribed Texts:

Bick, E. (1987) Notes on Infant Observation in Psychoanalytic Training. Collected Papers of Martha Harris and Esther Bick. M. H. Clunie Press. London.

Thomson-Salo, F, and Paul, C. (2007) The Baby as Subject, New Direction in Infant-Parent Therapy from the Royal Children’s Hospital. 2nd edition, Melbourne:, Stonnington Press.

Thomson-Salo F, Paul C, Morgan A, Jones S, Jordan B, Meehan M, Morse S & Walker A (1999). Free to be playful: therapeutic work with infants. Infant Observation: The International Journal of Infant Observation and it’s Applications, 3 (1), 47-62.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Students will be able to:

  • Devise a plan for identifying and engaging an expectant family willing to volunteer for their infant to be observed as part of the subjects: Infant Observation 1&2
  • Select appropriate techniques for engaging infants and their families in the clinical setting taking into account the infant’s developmental stage and parent’s capacities
  • Elicit salient information and take a systematic history of an infant mental health problem in the clinical setting.

It is required that applicants have a Working With Children Check before commencing this subject.

Related Course(s): Graduate Certificate in Mental Health Science
Graduate Diploma in Mental Health Science
Master of Mental Health Science

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