Abnormal Psychology - BPS307

Study and learn about Abnormal Behaviour

  • Learn to understand signs and symptoms of abnormal behaviour.
  • Learn about criteria for determining mental disorders.
  • Learn about different routes to treatment of disorders.
  • Study to distinguish between a wide range of disorders - Childhood disorders, cognitive disorders, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and much more.
  • Having knowledge of causes of disorders will help you in dealing with people - you will have a greater understanding of appropriate approaches to take.
  • Gain a valuable foundation of knowledge that can be applied to work in welfare, rehabilitation or care professions.
  • Improve your "people skills" for a more effective career in any situation where you might be dealing with people - from marketing to personnel management.

Want to learn more?

This course is particularly beneficial for counsellors or support workers - it will develop their ability to distinguish different types of psychological disorder, and determine when to refer clients for treatment. It will also be of benefit to anyone who wants to understand more about common psychological disorders, their causes and treatment.


The course is divided into eleven lessons as follows:

Lesson 1: Disorders Usually First Diagnosed in Infancy

Lesson 2: Delirium, Dementia, Amnesic and Other Cognitive Disorders

Lesson 3: Substance-Related Disorders

Lesson 4: Schizophrenia and Other Psychotic Disorders

Lesson 5: Mood Disorders

Lesson 6: Anxiety Disorders

Lesson 7: Somatoform, Factitious, and Dissociative Disorders

Lesson 8: Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders

Lesson 9: Eating and Sleep Disorders

Lesson 10: Impulse-Control Disorders; Adjustment Disorder

Lesson 11: Personality Disorders

What you may do in this course

Some of the activities that you will do in this course are:

  • Identify disorders first prevalent under 18 years of age;
  • Describe how you would diagnose a case of suspected Autism in a child of 4 years of age;
  • Compare and contrast delirium and dementia;
  • Do an internet search for images of PET scans and MRI of brains affected by delirium or dementia include the images an essay discussing these disorders;
  • Distinguish between substance abuse disorders and substance dependence disorders;
  • Differentiate between psychotic disorders;
  • Describe briefly the sub types of Schizophrenia;
  • Distinguish between Unipolar disorders and Bipolar disorders;
  • Outline a cognitive model of depression;
  • Describe different types of Anxiety Disorders;
  • Develop a treatment to overcome a client's fear of spiders;
  • Distinguish between Somatoform and Dissociative Disorders;
  • Explain the primary criticisms of dissociative identity disorder;
  • Provide a diagnosis of a case study and justify your diagnosis;
  • Discuss Gender Identity Disorder, Paraphilias and Sexual Dysfunction;
  • Explain what distinguishes a preference of sexual act or object as a paraphilia;
  • Identify Eating Disorders and Sleep Disorders;
  • Explain how eating disorders develop;
  • Distinguish between Impulse Control Disorders and Adjustment disorders;
  • Develop a diagnostic table for impulse control disorders;
  • Distinguish between different types of Personality Disorder;
  • Differentiate between Narcissistic and Histrionic personality disorders.

Not Just an Adult Issue

Mental health can be just as much of an issue with children and teenagers as it is with adults. Identifying and responding to mental health issues in a young person can make a big difference to the years that follow; both for the quality of life of the sufferer, and the cost of ongoing care to the family, friends and community. 

Childhood disorders differ from adult disorders in a very important way. Most adults identify themselves as having a problem, whilst children with problems are often identified by others. If an adult sees themselves as needing help, this has an effect on their desire to seek treatment, whereas with a child, someone is telling them that they need help or some form of treatment.

There are a number of ways in which diagnosing disorders in children differs from diagnosis in adults.

  • Children rarely initiate the consultation themselves.
  • The child's developmental stage has to be taken into consideration.
  • Children tend to have more difficulty expressing things in words.
  • Medication is usually a last resort.

A developmental approach is usually undertaken for the following reasons:

  • The child's developmental stage determines whether the behaviour is normal or pathological.
  • The impact of life events alters as the child develops.
  • The child's psychopathology may alter as it gets older.

The causes of psychological disorders in children are similar to that for adults, i.e. there are genetic and environmental factors. In addition there are developmental factors, i.e. children mature psychologically and socially as they get older and their disorders reflect such maturation.

A child with a "major psychiatric disorder" has a very serious illness affecting several areas of the child's life. These areas may include emotions, social or intellectual ability, or the use of language.

When a child and adolescent psychiatrist examines a child to learn if he or she has a major psychiatric disorder, these are some of the signs they look for or ask parents about:

  • failure to look or smile at parents or other care givers;
  • very strange actions or appearance;
  • lack of movement or facial expression;
  • lack of interest in or awareness of other people;
  • odd way of speaking, or private language that no one else can understand;
  • strange conversations with him- or herself;
  • odd or repetitive movements, such as spinning, hand-flapping, or head-banging; and
  • panic in response to a change in surroundings.
  • There are many different kinds of major psychiatric disorders. The specific name given to a child's illness will depend upon the combination of symptoms listed above, and on how severe the illness is.

Learn to Better Understand Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a devastating brain disorder. Schizophrenia interferes with a person's ability to think clearly, to distinguish reality from fantasy, to manage emotions, make decisions, and relate to others. The first signs of schizophrenia typically emerge in the teenage years or early twenties. Schizophrenia is the fourth leading causes of disability in the developed world for ages 15 - 44. It usually starts in the late teens or early twenties and lasts a lifetime. It rarely starts after 45.

Most people with schizophrenia suffer chronically or episodically throughout their lives, and are often stigmatized by lack of public understanding about the disease. Schizophrenia is not caused by bad parenting or personal weakness. A person with schizophrenia does not have a "split personality," and almost all people with schizophrenia are not dangerous or violent towards others when they are receiving treatment. The World Health Organization has identified schizophrenia as one of the ten most debilitating diseases affecting human beings.

The Onset of Schizophrenia

The illness usually starts with a pre-psychotic phase of social and academic impairment. A few months or years later, the psychotic phase develops, with hallucinations, bizarre speech and behaviour. The psychotic phase can last for decades or appear episodically. Anti-psychotic medication can shorten the duration of the psychosis, but it can still reoccur under stress. It can take years for a person to accept they have schizophrenia. When individuals stop taking their medication, they may suffer a psychotic relapse. After each relapse there will be an increased intellectual impairment.

Without treatment, 15% of schizophrenics commit suicide. Anti-psychotic medication usually prevents suicide and dramatically improves social functioning. However, even with the medication, most people with schizophrenia will not return to gainful employment due to the intellectual impairments caused by the illness - poor concentration, memory problems, impaired problem solving, inability to multi-task, and apathy.

How These Studies Might Benefit You

Some might argue that everyone has some abnormalities. In some respects, this can be true for many at least, and from that perspective, an understanding of abnormal psychology can give us insights into the minds of people we encounter in our day to day living - not just those who are suffering more extreme mental health disorders. Often the extreme disorders may begin to show in subtle ways, then progress; so understanding the disorders that can occur, may contribute toward earlier diagnosis and intervention.

By studying this course, you will have develop a deeper awareness and understanding of the scope and nature of mental health disorders. Your ability will grow, to see and differentiate signs and symptoms of different disorders, and broad categories of disorders. 

With this increased understanding and awareness, you will start to develop insights into causes and treatment options.  What you learn can be extremely valuable in any work within a mental health setting; or where you are interacting with or helping people who face mental health issues.  

You can study this course for professional development or self-improvement as a stand-alone study program, or it can also be undertaken as a credit for a certificate, diploma or other qualification.

This course can be useful for people in a wide range of professions, including:

  • Working in a care facility or hospital
  • Working in any other health service role
  • Counsellors or health professionals
  • Health or welfare support staff
  • Community and social service
  • Stress Management and Life coaching
  • Education and Research

Enrol Now!

Fee Information (S3)
Prices in Australian Dollars

PlanAust. PriceOverseas Price
A 1 x $834.96  1 x $759.05
B 2 x $451.44  2 x $410.40

Note: Australian prices include GST. 

Select a payment plan:

Courses can be started anytime
from anywhere in the world!

All orders processed in Australian dollars.