Advanced Certificate in Abnormal Psychology VPS051

Learn to Understand and Help People with Behavioural Issues

This course can strengthen your skills, performance, and ultimately, opportunities across many industries, including:
  • Social work
  • Counselling
  • Youth work
  • Health services
  • Education


Core Modules

These six modules provide foundation knowledge for the Advanced Certificate in Abnormal Psychology.   

  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health BPS214
  • Developmental, Learning and Behavioural Conditions in Adolescents and Children BPS215
  • Managing Mental Health in Adults BPS216
  • Abnormal Psychology BPS307
  • Neuropsychology BPS306
  • Psychopharmacology (Drugs and Psychology) BPS302 

Elective Modules

In addition to the core modules, students study any three of the following modules:

  • Biopsychology I BPS108
  • Biopsychology II BPS204
  • Introduction To Psychology BPS101
  • Anger Management BPS111
  • Stress Management VPS100
  • Conflict Management BPS201
  • Developmental Psychology BPS210 


First Learn what Causes Abnormal Behaviour

The first step toward managing abnormal behaviour is to understand what constitutes abnormality and then what causes it,  Some behaviours are more extreme, and some causes are more treatable than others.

Abnormality may be caused by a biological condition in the brain that may have origins in the person's genetic make up or an illness; but it can also be caused by some experience such as trauma or a life crisis. Another cause can be from a chemical (eg. drug) taken into the body.

Many drugs, such as cocaine, cannabis and nicotine, affect the brain’s reward circuit. This is part of the limbic system.  When the reward circuit is activated it normally responds by releasing dopamine and this creates feelings of pleasure. When a person takes the drug, it can stimulate high levels of dopamine release in the brain, which causes a ‘high’ or intense euphoria that can be linked to drug abuse. Whilst the exact mechanisms triggered by different types of substance are slightly different, each substance leads to a pleasurable ‘high’.  

Our brains have developed to make sure we repeat healthy activities by making us feel good for engaging in them. For example, we might feel good after eating.  The reward circuit will react and think that something important has happened that needs to be repeated without us having to think about it. Drugs and other pleasurable activities can do the same.  For example, regularly drinking alcohol, taking drugs, smoking, gambling, using the internet (such as visiting porn sites), shopping and sex lead to pleasurable feelings, which can in turn lead to a strong desire to repeat them more often.

They can make the brain think that because it felt good when taking drugs it should repeat that. The brain doesn’t distinguish because a natural healthy ‘good feeling’ and the negative, fake ‘high’ which drugs produce. Therefore, instead of achieving pleasurable feelings from useful or adaptive everyday behaviours, the person gains the same sensations of pleasure from the drug which is being abused. Therefore, the behaviour becomes reinforced and the person continues to be a user. 

When a person repeatedly uses a drug, the brain starts to adjust to the increased levels of dopamine in their system.  The brain begins to reduce the levels of dopamine it produces. Due to the toxicity of some drugs, some neurons may also die. This results in the person feeling reduced pleasure. They may begin to feel depressed, lifeless, and so on. They may not enjoy things that once brought them pleasure. So, the person starts to need the drug more to bring their dopamine levels back to a normal range. And then they need more and more to create the same “high”, or even to maintain a sense of normality. This is known as tolerance.

In the long term, drugs can lead to dramatic changes in the brain circuitry and neurons, even if a person has stopped taking drugs. These changes can remain for years. A person who has been addicted to a substance may derive very little pleasure from activities and events that other people find extremely pleasurable. This is why it is so difficult for some people to stay off the substance when trying to quit.  There is little enjoyment in their lives. 

In extreme cases the recovering addict may develop a condition known as anhedonia. Anhedonia is the loss of pleasure, satisfaction or excitement from all things. If you can imagine everything that gives you pleasure, including those you love, suddenly having no impact or being able to generate any feelings of enjoyment for you, then this is what it is like to experience this.  

Withdrawal is essentially the syndrome associated with a reduction of the amount of a substance in the bloodstream. It is associated with unpleasant physical and psychological symptoms. When someone goes through withdrawal they often experience an intense craving for the substance. If they take the substance at this time, they are able to relieve the symptoms of withdrawal. The physical symptoms may be different for different substances but psychological symptoms of withdrawal include those associated with depression and anxiety.

Skills You Gain Here Can Make Life Easier for You and Everyone You Encounter across your life.

People with behavioural issues will often disrupt the groups they inhabit - families, social groups, workplaces. There are usually reasons behind their issues, and understanding those reasons is the first step to dealing with the disruption. 

This course helps you to address behavioural issues, and in doing so, diffuse the disruption.

The nature of this program is broad, and the opportunities for work and business that may arise from these studies are equally broad.



  • To enhance your career as CPD
  • To broaden your understanding of human behaviour


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Fee Information (AC)
Prices in Australian Dollars

PlanAust. PriceOverseas Price
A 1 x $4,581.28  1 x $4,164.80
B 2 x $2,473.52  2 x $2,248.65
C 3 x $1,780.68  3 x $1,618.80

Note: Australian prices include GST. 

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from anywhere in the world!

All orders processed in Australian dollars.