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 three core modules - Adolescent Psychology, Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Developmental, Learning and Behavioural Conditions in Children and Adolescents.

You then choose three 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.


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.

Who Is This Course Suitable For?

This course is suitable for anyone who lives iwth, or is interested in working with adolescents. It will give you a greater insight into the adolescent mind and the behaviours that occur during adolescence.

Why Study This Course?

  • This course will provide you with a detailed insight into adolescent psychology, understanding more about how adolescents think and behave.
  • The course can be studied online or by e-learning.
  • You can study in your own home and in your own time. It is self-paced. We do not set deadlines.
  • This course will be a useful addition to your CV if you would like to, or do work, with adolescents.

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