Emerging Minds
2hrs 30mins

Practice strategies for assessment and engagement

About the course

This course is part of an Emerging Minds suite of products that examines practice skills and strategies that help support collaborative engagements with children and their families. These skills and strategies are effective in providing early identification and prevention responses to children’s mental health issues.

This course focuses on work with children between the ages of five and 12. Emerging Minds is currently developing a practice strategy course for working with infants, children and parents from conception to four years. If you would like more information on working with infants and toddlers, please refer to:

The Emerging Minds course, Engaging children: Good beginnings is a companion to this course and provides a suite of skills to enhance your engagement with children and parents.

Who is this course for?

The primary audiences for this content are accredited mental health practitioners, with the following workforces being targeted:

  • paediatric psychiatrists
  • psychologists
  • paediatricians
  • mental health social workers
  • mental health nurses
  • mental health speech therapists; and
  • mental health occupational therapists.

Learning aims

This course aims to promote the use of daily functional assessment, to help you consider a 'whole child' approach to your work. Functional assessments prioritise a focus on every aspect of the child’s life, including their hopes and their goals, rather than focusing solely on their problems or conditions.

This 'whole child' approach can help you to reflect on your current engagement and assessment processes, to consider each of the following elements:

  • bio-psycho-social model
  • child’s ecology
  • ages and stages of infant and child development
  • infant and child temperament
  • family and parental circumstances
  • child’s experiences; and
  • child’s interactions outside the family.

A 'whole child' approach recognises there are certain circumstances in a child’s life that influence the presentation and severity of any mental health difficulties, accuracy of assessments, and strength of treatment outcomes. It is the ‘whole’ child and not a child’s condition that should be the focus for therapeutic engagement.

‘I am interested in helping children consider all the factors that help create their best life. I want to help them to walk towards this life, rather than only focusing on the problems that they come with.’ – Penny Sih, Child Psychologist, Developing Minds.


It is estimated that this course will take you approximately one hour to complete, including reading material and watching videos.

You can undertake the course across multiple sessions at your own pace. The last screen you visit before logging off will be bookmarked and you will have the option of returning to that screen when you next log in.


As you work through the course, it is important to be aware of your own emotional responses. Please follow the self-care tips below and seek help if needed:

  • We do not recommend undertaking the entire course in one sitting. Give yourself some breaks. Even if you don’t feel that you need a break, it’s a good idea to take one anyway and come back later.
  • Be aware of your emotions as you progress through the course, and take action if you are starting to feel stressed or upset. For example, consider taking a break and doing something for yourself that you enjoy.
  • Be aware of your emotional responses after you complete the course.

If at any point you find you are struggling, please talk with your supervisor, seek help, or call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, or SANE Australia on 1800 18 7263.


For the purposes of this course, the term ‘parent’ encompasses the biological and adoptive parents of a child, as well as individuals who have chosen to take up a primary or shared responsibility in raising that child.

Social and emotional wellbeing’ refers to the way a person thinks and feels about themselves and others. It incorporates behavioural and emotional strengths and is a facet of child development.1

In broad terms, social and emotional wellbeing is the foundation for physical and mental health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is a holistic concept which results from a network of relationships between individuals, family, kin and Community. It also recognises the importance of connection to Land, culture, spirituality and ancestry, and how these affect the individual.2

‘Social and emotional wellbeing’ is also used by some people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, who may have differing concepts of mental health and mental illness.3

Social and emotional development’ involves the development of skills required to:

  • identify and understand one’s feelings
  • read and understand the emotional states of other people
  • manage strong emotions and how they are expressed
  • regulate behaviour
  • develop empathy
  • establish and maintain relationships.4


  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2012). Social and emotional wellbeing: development of a Children’s Headline Indicator. Cat. no. PHE 158. Canberra: AIHW.
  2. Commonwealth of Australia. (2017). National strategic framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ mental health and social and emotional wellbeing. Canberra: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, p.6.
  3. Everymind. (2020). Understanding mental health and wellbeing. Newcastle: Everymind. Available here.
  4. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2009). A picture of Australia’s children. Cat. no. PHE 112. Canberra: AIHW.

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