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Beyond the Checklist: A Series of Case Studies in Forming Diagnoses

CPC-681: Beyond the Checklist 


Format: Hybrid (partly synchronous, i.e. following a live lecture with a definite class schedule, and partly asynchronous, i.e. online and self-directed)

Cost: $895 + HST if attending all six sessions; otherwise, $195 + HST per session

Recommended texts:

  1. Morrison, J. (2014). DSM-5 made easy: the clinician's guide to diagnosis. New York: Guilford Press.
  2. Morrison, J. (2018). The mental health clinician's workbook: locking in your professional skills. New York: Guilford Press.
  3. Zimmerman, M. (2013), Interview guide for evaluating DSM-5 psychiatric disorders and the mental status examination. Rhode Island: Psych Products Press.

Overview of the Course

This program is designed to help professionals in the field of mental health strengthen their skills in diagnostic interviewing. In keeping with the educational developments of our time, this course offers a series of micro-credentials in forming diagnoses, with emphases on selected mental disorders. Students may opt to attend the full six sessions, or instead pick and choose which of the six best suit their needs. A micro-credential in forming diagnoses will be awarded upon successful completion of each session, specifying the symptom-domain(s) for the session(s) one has completed. Students who attend all six sessions will be awarded a Certificate in Diagnostic Interviewing, encompassing the micro-credentials they will have earned along the way.

Please note: While communicating a diagnosis is a protected act, the ability to form a diagnosis is required of all mental health professionals to meaningfully engage with their clients.

Students who attend all six sessions will, at an intermediate level, be able to:

a. Describe the features of the most prevalent mental disorders
b. Identify the structure of the different diagnostic categories of the DSM-5
c. Demonstrate how psychopathologies are diagnosed using DSM-5 criteria
d. Recognize the major symptoms of the most prevalent mental disorders
e. Distinguish between these various disorders, and the overlap between them
f. Formulate clinical interviewing questions based on diagnostic criteria
g. Apply one’s understanding to assess a particular diagnostic situation
h. Evaluate assessment evidence critically
i. Form a diagnosis

Course Description

Over the course of their formal education, students and practitioners in the field of mental health are expected to learn how to form particular diagnoses. At the theoretical level, the ability to infer these diagnoses consists in matching a client’s symptoms to those of a known type of disorder, checking what one sees clinically against a specific set of criteria. At the practical level, however, these symptoms are often hard to identify, and require an understanding beyond a “checklist” in order to do so. Not only may the same symptoms have differing presentations across various individuals, but “some symptom domains, such as depression and anxiety, involve multiple diagnostic categories and may reflect common underlying vulnerabilities for a larger group of disorders” (p. xli, DSM-5), requiring a trained clinician to bring their boundaries into focus. In this course, students will be presented with a series of case studies that are intended to improve their practical diagnostic abilities, with an emphasis being placed on selected mental disorders. Divided into six sessions, each day will explore a different diagnostic criterion, using clinical examples and practicing interviewing skills in groups.

Though participants are encouraged to attend the full six sessions, students may pick and choose which of the six they would like to attend, it being left to their discretion which of the sessions best suit their needs. Each day of class will consist of four synchronous hours of learning, followed by two hours of independent study. Successful attendance and completion of the assigned coursework will earn students a micro-credential in forming diagnoses, specifying the symptom domain(s) for the day(s) they have attended. Students who attend all six sessions will be awarded a Certificate in Diagnostic Interviewing, encompassing the micro-credentials they will have earned along the way.

All classes are held from 9am – 1pm ET, followed by a minimum of two additional hours of independent (asynchronous) learning, as directed.

Eligibility and Completion Requirements

The course is taught by a team of experienced practitioners, and is open to students and professionals who, in the course of their duties, are required to form a diagnosis. These include, but are not limited to: individuals who are allowed to perform the controlled act of psychotherapy (psychotherapists, psychologists, doctors, nurses, social workers, or occupational therapists); educators; health care professionals; and students studying in the field of mental health.

Students are required to participate in lectures, labs, and online dialogue groups. Written work based on cases provided will be required for submission by the end of the two-week period between classes. Students in Adler’s MPsy program will receive an Elective Certificate in Diagnostic Interviewing upon successful completion of all six sessions; community members and other participants who attend all sessions will also receive a Certificate in Diagnostic Interviewing upon successful submission and evaluation (pass/fail) of all course materials. Students who choose to forgo the full six and instead attend specific days will receive a Micro-credential in Forming Diagnoses, specifying the symptom domain(s) for the day(s) they have attended.

Getting Started

Once payment is processed, students will be enrolled in Adler’s online learning platform (Adlearn) where they will gain access to related course materials as well as information outlining how to access and attend the virtual (synchronous) lectures. All lectures will be conducted virtually via Zoom, and will be recorded and posted to the class page on Adlearn for future reference. Students will be able to access course materials, including lecture recordings, up until one month after the final session.

Please note: registration for specific days of this synchronous course closes one week prior to each session. Unlike our online courses, students must attend each session at the specified date and time (see above). Please plan accordingly.

Minimum Technical Requirements:

  • A working computer, with audio- and video-capabilities. (All students are required to have their webcams and microphones turned on during class-times.)
  • The Zoom video-conferencing application
  • A quiet room free from background interference for the duration of class

Contact Us

Students may contact a representative from our Faculty of Continuing Education at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.