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Qualification - Certificate in Adolescent Studies

Course CodeVPS031
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)600 hours
Study teenage psychology and learn more about how teenagers grow and develop during the adolescent period.
This course is suitable for anyone interested in the psychology of adolescents, such as teachers, parents, fosters carers, carers, teaching assistants, coaches and so on.

The course requires the completion of six 100 hour modules. 

You can start the course at any time.

There are 3 core modules:-
Adolescent Psychology
Child and Adolescent Mental Health
Developmental, Learning and Behavioural Conditions in Children and Adolescents

You then select 3 further modules from:-
Developmental Psychology
Child Psychology
Life coaching
Counselling Skills I
Educational Psychology

Each course has a number of assignments.  At the end of each course, there is also an examination that can be taken at a time and location to suit you. 


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Qualification - Certificate in Adolescent Studies.
 Adolescent Psychology BPS211
 Child and Adolescent Mental Health BPS214
 Developmental, Learning and Behavioural Conditions in Adolescents and Children BPS215
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 3 of the following 5 modules.
 Child Psychology BPS104
 Counselling Skills I BPS109
 Educational Psychology BPS105
 Developmental Psychology BPS210
 Life Coaching BPS305

Note that each module in the Qualification - Certificate in Adolescent Studies is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.


1. Adolescent Psychology
The module consists of 10 lessons including: –

1. Introduction
Theories of Human Development – What is adolescence? Piaget’s theory of Cognitive Development, The stages of Piaget’s theories, moral development, Erikson’s psychosocial development theory, stages.

2. Life Crisis
Life crisis, problems, puberty, attachment theory, internalised and externalized problems, types of problems experienced by adolescents.
3. Physical Development
Puberty in females, puberty in males, hormones, physical activity, obesity. 
4. Intellectual Development
Piaget’s formal operations stage, school problems.
5. Emotional Development
Freud’s theories, emotional problems, teenagers and grief, eating problems, depression, emotional problems, typical childhood responses to grief, supporting a grieving child.
6. Sexuality
Acquisition of gender identity and social role identity, vicarious learning and sexual identity, gender identity disorders, curiosity, sex, sexual behaviour, masturbation, sexuality and nudity, answering questions.
7. Social Development
Family influence, types of parenting, denigration of parents.
8. Moral Development
Piaget’s theory of moral development, Kohlberg’s theory of moral reasoning.
9. Delinquency and Crime
Juvenile delinquency, pathways to delinquency, gangs, crimes more likely in adolescence, behaviour problems, drugs, solvents and alcohol, child abuse, triggers of abuse, stranger abuse, how to deal with deviance.
10. Adolescents and Transitionn to Adulthood
Erikson’s later stages – the transition to adulthood.
2. Child and Adolescent Mental Health
The module consists of 10 lessons. 
1. Nature and Scope of Mental Health
The lesson examines the difference between adult and child and adolescent mental health. What we mean by mental health? Mental wellness etc.
Ø Introduction
Ø Understanding Normal Childhood Development
Ø Good Mental Health
Ø Understanding Childhood Mental Illness
Ø Prevalence of Mental Health Issues in Children and Adolescents
Ø Differences to Adult Mental Health
Ø An Introduction to the Mental Health Industry

2. Childhood Depression and how this changes when we reach adolescence; signs/symptoms/treatment
Ø Introduction
Ø Types of Depression in Childhood
Ø Diagnosis of Depression in Children
Ø Causes of Childhood Depression
Ø Assessing Risk of Suicide

3. Anxiety Disorders - seperation, generalised etc. school phobias, social phobias etc. signs/symptoms/treatment 

Ø Introduction
Ø Scope and Nature of Anxiety Disorders
Ø Different Types of Anxiety Disorders
Ø Childhood Anxiety Disorders
Ø Adolescent Anxiety Disorders
Ø Other Anxiety Related Problems
4. Tic Disorders - Tourette's etc. signs/symptoms/treatment
Ø Introduction to Tic Disorders
Ø Types of Tics
Ø Gilles De La Tourette Syndrome (Tourette’s Disorder)
Ø Transient Tic Disorder
Ø Chronic Tic Disorder
Ø Tic Disorder (NOS)

 5. Brain Disorders (Injury & Disease) signs/symptoms/treatment 

Ø Introduction
Ø Differences to Adults
Ø Traumatic Brain Injury
Ø Congenital Malformations
Ø Genetic Disorders
Ø Tumours
Ø Infectious Diseases
Ø Cerebrovascular Disease
Ø Epilepsy
Ø Environmental Toxins

6. Other Disorders - Motor Disorders, Elimination Disorders, Feeding & Eating Disorders signs/symptoms/treatment 

Ø Introduction
Ø Elimination Disorders
Ø Encopresis
Ø Enuresis
Ø Feeding and Eating Disorders of Childhood
Ø Reactive Attachment Disorder
Ø Selective Mutism
Ø Stereotypic Movement Disorder
7. Environmental Problems - Abuse and Neglect, Relationship Problems signs/symptoms/treatment 
Ø Introduction
Ø Child Abuse
Ø Definition of Child Abuse
Ø Factitious Order by Proxy
Ø The Effects of Abuse
Ø Attachment Issues
Ø Lifestyle

8. Problems of Adolescence - Anorexia, Bulimia, Substance Use, Family Conflict signs/symptoms/treatment 

Ø Introduction
Ø Significant Disorders of Adolescence
9. Holistic and Alternative Approaches to Treatment - this should be a general approach to dealing with children & adolescents i.e. not directed at specific conditions 
Ø Drug Treatments
Ø Food and Mental Health
Ø Alternative Therapies - homeopathy, art therapy, music therapy, counselling/psychotherapy, 
craniosacral/biodynamic osteopathy, kinesiology, aromatherapy, sensory integration, behavioural optometry, hearing and mental health, movement therapies. 

10. Special Project - student chooses an area of interest 


3. Developmental, Learning and Behavioural Conditions in Children and Adolescents 
There are 9 lessons in the module: 

1. Developmental Disorders - Mental Retardation and Learning Disabilities 
Ø How to classify Childhood Disorders
Ø What are the causes of Developmental Disorders?
Ø Genetic, Physical and Environmental Causes
Ø How to diagnose Developmental Disorders
Ø How common Developmental Disorders are within the General Population
Ø How Developmental Disorders Impact on Families and Children and Adolescents
Ø Mental Retardation (Learning Disability)
Ø Levels of Severity

2. Autism - Autistic Disorder signs/symptoms/treatment 

Ø What is Autism?
Ø The Symptoms and Signs of Autism
-      Impaired Interactions & Social Development
-      Communication
-      Repetitive Behaviour
Ø What are the causes of Autism?
Ø History of Autism
Ø How common is Autism within the General Population
Ø The differences in severity and challenges that are experienced by people with autism
Ø Issues Children and Adolescents with Autism need to deal with
Ø The challenges that a family with an Autistic child face
Ø How to treat Children and Adolescents with Autism
Ø How to support a child with Autism
Ø Supportive Services available for children and adolescents with Autism

3. Asperger's Disorder - signs/symptoms/treatment 
Ø What is Asperger’s Disorder?
Ø The Signs and Symptoms of Asperger’s Disorder
-              Social Interactions
-              Repetitive Behaviour
Ø What causes of Asperger’s Disorder?
Ø The history of Asperger’s Disorder
Ø How common is Asperger’s Disorder within the General Population?
Ø Asperger’s Disorder and Autism – The Autism Spectrum
Ø How does Asperger’s Disorder impact on the Child or Adolescent?
Ø How does having a child with Asperger’s Disorder impact on the Family?
Ø Some Treatments for Children and Adolescents with Asperger’s Disorder
Ø How to Support Children with Asperger’s Disorder?
Ø Services Available for Children with Asperger’s Disorder

4. Other Pervasive Developmental Disorders (Rett's Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Developmental Disorders, NOS) signs/symptoms/treatment 

Ø What are Pervasive Developmental Disorders?
Ø Rett’s Disorder
Ø Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
Ø Other types of Developmental Disorders
Ø What causes of Developmental Disorders?
Ø How Developmental Disorders are diagnosed?
Ø How Developmental Disorders impact on a Child or Adolescent
Ø The issues that a Family of the Child or Adolescent with Developmental Disorders face

5.  Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorders = ADHD & variants, signs/symptoms/treatment 

Ø What are the Signs & Symptoms of ADHD?
-              Features of Inattention
-              Features of Hyperactivity-Impulsivity
-              Settings
Ø What are the causes of ADHD?
Ø The history of ADHD
Ø How prevalent is ADHD?
Ø Treating ADHD
Ø Support Available
Ø Things that may aggravate ADD or ADHD Symptoms
Ø How is a Child or Adolescent affected by ADD and ADHD
Ø How having an ADD or ADHD child will impact on the family

6. Conduct Disorders (include Oppositional Defiant Disorder) signs/symptoms/treatment/support 

Ø What are Conduct Disorders?
Ø Some signs and Symptoms of Conduct Disorders
Ø Genetic and Environmental risk factors that cause Conduct Disorders
Ø How prevalent is Conduct Disorders within the General Population
Ø Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Ø Some signs and symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Ø What causes of Oppositional Defiant Disorder?
Ø How prevalent is Oppositional Defiant Disorder in the General Population
Ø Anti-Social Personality Disorder (APD)
Ø Treatments for Conduct Disorders
Ø Support for Families and Children with Conduct Disorders
Ø The Impact of Conduct Disorders on Children
Ø The Impact on the Family of with a Child that has a Conduct Disorder
Ø Supporting Children with Conduct Disorders

 7. Learning Disorders - focus on academia (Mathematics, Reading Disorder - Dyslexia, etc.) signs/ symptoms/treatment/support

Ø Specific Developmental Disorders
Ø Definition of Learning Disorders
Ø Reading Disorder (Developmental Dyslexia)
Ø Disorder of Written Expression (Specific Spelling Disorder)
Ø Mathematics (Arithmetic) Disorder

8. Communications Disorders & Motor Skills Disorder - focus on speech and language - signs/symptoms/treatment/support 

Ø Definition of Communication Disorders
Ø Causes of Communication Disorders
Ø Phonological Disorder
Ø Expressive Language Disorder
Ø Mixed Receptive-Expressive Language Disorder
Ø Stuttering
Ø Motor Skills Disorder
Ø Impact on the Child and Family of Communication Disorders

 9. Special Project (student to select an area of interest) 



Children and adolescents  misbehave for a reason. If you can learn to better understand what leads to misbehaviour, you will be better able to manage that misbehaviour. Not all misbehaviour necessarily stems from what is described as a "conduct disorder" - but a lot of misbehaviour can be.

Conduct Disorders

Conduct disorders in children are serious emotional and behaviour disorders.  The child may show patterns of violent and disruptive behaviour. They may have problems following rules. Children and teenagers can often have behaviour-related problems at some time during their childhood, but these can be normal stages of development that the child grows out of. However, if the disruptive and violent behaviour becomes more long lasting, goes against norms of behaviour, violates the rights of others and disrupts the life of the family and the child, they may have a conduct disorder.

Research in the United States suggests that 2 – 16% of children have a conduct disorder. It is more common in boys. It usually develops in late childhood into the early teens. The American Psychiatric Associate state that 6 – 16% of boys and 2 – 9% of girls have a conduct disorder. The amount of children with conduct disorder increases as they reach adolescence. 

Subtypes of conduct disorder

There are two subtypes of conduct disorder –

Childhood onset – if the childhood onset is left untreated, there is a poorer prognosis for the child. 40% of children who have childhood onset conduct disorder go on to develop an antisocial personality disorder in adulthood.The child may show behaviours such as 

  • Setting fires
  • Breaking things on purpose
  • Poor relationships with their peers
  • Property damage
  • Aggression

Adolescent onset – the adolescent may show their conduct disorder in a slightly different way, as part of a gang behaviour or to meet their survival needs, such has 

  • Stealing food
  • Truancy
  • Shoplifting
  • Running away

Adolescent who develop a conduct disorder are usually less psychologically disturbed than those with childhood onset conduct disorders. 

Symptoms of conduct disorder

The symptoms will vary depending on the child’s and also whether the conduct disorder is mild, moderate or severe. The symptoms tend to fall into four categories –

  • Destructive behaviour – arson, vandalism, destruction of property
  • Aggression – threatening or causing harm to others, bullying, fighting, using weapons, forcing sexual activity, harming animals, being cruel to others
  • Deceitfulness – lying, shoplifting, breaking and entering homes and cars to steal
  • Violating rules – going against the norms and rules of society. Behaving in a way not appropriate for their age. This may include sexual behaviour at a very young age, truancy, running away, playing cruel pranks and so on.

They may also show –

  • Temper tantrums
  • Low self esteem
  • Irritability
  • Drugs and alcohol abuse

They often do not understand how their behaviour hurts others and show little guilt or remorse for what they have done.
When reading the list of symptoms above and below, you have to consider that any mental health professional is looking for more than one symptom here. Many children will have isolated incidents of bad behaviour, such as lying or shoplifting or fighting. This does not mean that they have a conduct disorder. But if there is a pattern to their behaviour and it is longstanding, a conduct disorder becomes more likely. A child will not show all of these signs and symptoms but there will be a range of symptoms.
To look at this in a little more detail, the American Psychiatric Association also state that the signs and symptoms of conduct disorder include –

  • Lying
  • Stealing
    Conning other people 
  • Aggression
    Physically cruel to people and animals
    Physical fights
    Using a weapon to harm others, such as a knife, brick, bat, gun
    Forcing sexual activity
  • Staying away from home
  • Playing truant
  • Property destruction
    Setting fires
    Harming other people’s property
    Breaking into other people’s home or car
  • The APA state that –
    Mild conduct disorder – signs and symptoms sufficient to make a diagnosis, but not much above that. Minor harm to others.
    Moderate conduct disorder – number of problems in conduct and behaviour. Harm to others is between mild and severe.
    Severe conduct disorder – excess of problems compared to those required to make a diagnosis. Considerable harm to others. 

Causes of conduct disorder

We do not know exactly what causes conduct disorders, but it may be a combination of factors, such as –

  • Genetics – Many children with conduct disorders have family members with mental health conditions, such as anxiety disorders, substance abuse disorders, mood disorders and personality disorders. This suggests that conduct disorders may be inherited in some ways, but this would not be the only factor leading to a conduct disorder, there would be other factors involved such as – 
  • Biology – some studies show that children with conduct disorders have injuries or damage to certain areas of their brain, particularly those areas that control behaviour, emotion and impulse control.  
  • Mental health conditions – children with conduct disorder may also have other mental health conditions, such as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), depression, learning disabilities, anxiety disorder and substance abuse.
  • Other psychological factors – Children with conduct disorders often show a lack of remorse and guilt, but also problems with their cognitive processing (the way they think).
  • Social – Children who are not accepted by their peers and/or have low socioeconomic status are at an increased risk of developing a conduct disorder.
  • Family factors – A dysfunctional family life, abuse, inconsistent discipline and traumatic experiences can also lead to the development of conduct disorders.

  • However, as we said, none of these factors alone can explain why a conduct disorder will develop.






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