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Display knowledge of the located (culturally and historically) nature of counselling (theory and practice).

Post Date: 20 - Feb - 2020

TMA 01

The assignment

Summarise and discuss the presentations of mental health in the two newspaper articles given at the end of this TMA. (25 % of total assessment)

Word limit: 1500 words

Important: These pages provide guidance on how to write your assignment. Please ensure you read all of this information right through until the checklist at the end.

Before you start work on this assignment, please ensure that you have read the Assessment Guidance specific to this module and are familiar with the advice in Social Sciences Assessment Information. These sources contain support and guidance that you may need in writing your TMA including, for example, advice on plagiarism, referencing and the marking system. Note that failure to comply with relevant guidance could result in the loss of marks or other penalties.

Learning outcomes assessed

TMA 01 addresses the following learning outcomes:

1 Knowledge and understanding


Display knowledge of the located (culturally and historically) nature of counselling (theory and practice).


Critically understand diagnoses related to fear and sadness (depression and anxiety), their diagnosis, treatment and prognosis.


Demonstrate knowledge of a variety of different perspectives and their implications for practice with fear and sadness.


Show an awareness of the importance of social and political factors with respect to diversity and difference in counselling.


Display basic knowledge of psychopharmacology.

2 Cognitive skills


Select material appropriate to a particular question and write critically about the material.


Construct an argument with appropriate use of evidence, concepts and theories.


Engage in considered discussion of current debates in the field.


Use the research literature to reflect on the practice of counselling.

3 Key skills


Write clearly and concisely.


Plan, structure and write academic essays.


Understand how to reference academic sources.


Communicate arguments using appropriate evidence.


Engage with primary source material.

4 Practical and/or professional skills


Critically identify and formulate appropriate professional responses to fear and sadness.

Student notes

In this first assignment we have provided you with two newspaper articles relating to mental health and the treatment of mental health issues. These provide a window into representations (common understandings) of mental health in the UK today. For the assignment, you should first summarise how mental health issues are presented in these articles. Then discuss these representations in relation to your knowledge of mental health today, and its history, as discussed in Block 1 of the module material.

Your task here is to demonstrate your understanding of the Block 1 material, while structuring your assignment around points drawn from the newspaper articles. You should particularly draw on material about the history of counselling and psychotherapy, diagnosis, and the biopsychosocial approach.

All of the material from Chapter 3 of the module book will be relevant for this TMA, as well as some from Chapters 1 and 2.

  • From Chapter 3, you might want to look in particular at the understanding of mental health from a biopsychosocial perspective (Section 3.3) and ‘Changing psychology by changing the brain’ (Section 3.5).
  • From Chapter 1, ‘Counselling and psychotherapy’ (Section 1.3) and ‘History of counselling and psychotherapy’ (Section 1.4) will be particularly helpful.
  • From Chapter 2, you could usefully draw on ‘Current western diagnostic systems and their history’ (Section 2.2), ‘Focus on depression and anxiety’ (Section 2.5), ‘The politics of diagnosis and formulation’ (Section 2.8), and ‘Mixed messages from psychotherapies’ (Section 2.9).
  • Excerpts 2 and 3 (the videos from Weeks 2 and 4 of the Study Planner) will be helpful, because they cover experiences of stigma and drug use.
  • Excerpt 4 (the audio from Week 4) might also be useful, as it offers a critical stance in regard to the biological or medical approach.
  • You may also touch on material from Week 5, regarding how the current view of mental health and diagnosis has been shaped by psychoanalytic understandings.
  • The Introduction and Conclusion (Sections 4.1 and 4.6) will probably be the most useful sections of Chapter 4, but this chapter is not vital to this assignment.
  • You might also wish to mention other media presentations of mental illness briefly in your assignment, such as in TV programmes, films or other newspaper articles that you have come across. However, make sure that the focus of your assignment is on the two newspaper articles provided at the end of this TMA.

Structuring your assignment

The assignment asks for a summary and then a discussion. You should include:

  • an introduction stating what you are going to cover (100 words)
  • a brief summary of what the two newspaper articles are saying (in about 250 words)
  • a discussion of the newspaper articles in relation to your knowledge and understanding of the matters covered in Block 1 of the module (1000 words)
  • a conclusion (100 words) with a brief summary of your discussion and any conclusion you draw from the evidence presented.
  • 50 words, on a separate page, of self-reflection (see below).

It is important that you don’t present information from the newspaper articles (or from any other popular sources such as non-academic websites or TV programmes) as ‘fact’. Rather, you need to make sure you can reference academic materials from the module materials that support or challenge the ideas in the articles.

In the discussion part of the assignment, you might want to use two or three subheadings to divide your answer into the key points you want to make or issues you want to cover. For example, you might consider sections on: the common understandings of mental health that you find in the provided articles, such as the extent of the problem of depression and anxiety; or the causes of depression and anxiety, and the ‘best’ treatment of depression and anxiety. Within each of these sections, you should have three or four paragraphs (a section following a subheading in an assignment should never be briefer than this – if it is, you should dispense with the subheading). Each paragraph should make a point (for example, about a common theme in the newspaper articles), and go on to support that point with information and references.

At this stage it can be very useful to plan out your assignment on one side of A4 paper, with your main subsections and the points you want to make in each paragraph of these. You can share this structure with a friend or family member to get some feedback.


When you have finished, be sure to check that all references cited in the assignment are included in the reference list at the end, and that the style of this follows the referencing guidelines (see the OU Harvard Guide to citing references for details of how to do this). Your list of references is not part of the overall word count of this assignment.


On a separate page, we would like you to write a few sentences (not more than 50 words) saying:

  • what you found interesting about this assignment
  • what you found difficult about this assignment.

These 50 words are part of the overall word count of the assignment, so make sure you leave enough words for this. It should be written in the first person (‘I found (…) interesting’ and ‘I found (…) difficult’), unlike the academic part of the assignment which should be written in the third person throughout.

Elements you found interesting might include thinking about media representations, structuring your assignment, and considering the issues around the causes of depression. Things you found difficult might include expressing your position clearly, understanding some of the criticisms of government policy, and concluding your assignment.

It is important that you complete this self-reflection activity, as it will help you to think about your interests and your strengths and weaknesses. It will also give your tutor guidance about how best to target feedback to you.

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