Psychology & Counselling

Course CodeBPS102
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment
Know thyself!!!
Learn about your own conditioning and behavioural responses and learn to analyse others. 
Study something that will help you and help others! 
Hardly a day goes by without the feeling of stress creeping over us. Leading research from around the world has concluded that 70% to 90% of adults visit primary care physicians for stress-related problems.


Little wonder that counsellors and psychologists are frequently presented with problems of stress. Relationship demands, study demands, physical as well as mental health problems, balancing work/family and social demands, traffic congestion/road rage, product faults, discrimination, growing-up tensions—all of these conditions and situations are valid causes of stress.
While some people have a stress management system in place, others simply ‘keep on keeping on’ without stopping to consider the effects their daily stress is having on them. In some people, stress-induced adverse feelings and anxieties tend to persist and intensify. Learning to understand and master stress management techniques can help prevent the counter effects of this indiscriminate and ubiquitous disease.
According to the World Health Organisation, 25% of people will develop a mental or behavioural disorder during their life-span. While most individuals develop methods of coping with stress, some develop unhealthy defence mechanisms and behavioural patterns which interfere with their daily life. Others suffer mental breakdowns in response to too much stress. The most common physical disorders are depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, mental retardation, substance abuse disorders, and disorders of childhood and adolescents. 
Abnormal psychology is concerned with the study of maladaptive or abnormal behaviour and the classification and prognosis of such maladjusted behaviour. If you find this interesting, this could be the course for you.
ACS student comments: "The notes and study tools encourage me to conduct research to develop my knowledge of components in my course. It is very worthwhile. [My tutor] gives me good feedback and food for thought with her comments and sometimes elaborate on my answers- really value her input." Larissa Kalnins, Aust - Psychology & Counselling course

Lesson Structure

There are 7 lessons in this course:

  1. Stress
    • Introduction
    • The mind to body connection
    • How to recognise stress
    • What happens to the body when you experience stress
    • The physiological response
    • Chronic and acute stress
    • Erikson's psycho social stages
    • Oral sensory stage
    • Anal muscular stage
    • Genital locomotor stage
    • Latency stage
    • Adolescence
    • Young adulthood
    • Middle adulthood
    • Late adulthood
    • Social adjustment
    • Relationship betreen stress and heart disease
    • What are the basic sources of stress
    • Why some people suffer more
    • How to deal with stress
    • Defence mechanisms
  2. Abnormal behaviour
    • Definition of abnormality
    • Deviation from statistical norms
    • Deviation from social norm
    • Maladaptiveness in behaviour
    • Personal distress
    • Disability
    • Wakefield's harmful dysfunction concept
    • Psychologically healthy individuals
    • Deviation in character
    • Classification of mental disorders
    • Anxiety and mood disorders
    • Prevalence of depression
    • Treatment of depression
    • Schizophrenia
    • Substance related disorder
    • Disorders diagnosed in childhood
    • Delerium, Dementia, Amnestic and Cognitive disorders
    • Problems with classification
  3. Individual Behaviour
    • Pro social or altruistic behaviour
    • When do children first exhibit pro social behaviour
    • Socialisation
    • Conformity
    • Family influence
    • Disciplinary measures
    • Sibling influence
    • Influence of family structure
    • Influence of school
    • Praise
    • Influence of peers
    • Heiders balance theory
    • Dissonance theory
    • Cognitive dissonance
  4. Group behaviour
    • Social considerations
    • Temporary group
    • Organised group
    • Organisational groups
    • The influence of groups
    • Industrial groups
  5. Methods of dealing with abnormalities
    • Professionals in counselling and psychology
    • Therapist techniques
    • Transference
    • Directiveness and non directiveness
    • Systematic desensitisation
    • Behaviour therapies
    • Psychoanalytical approach
    • Psychoanalytic techniques
    • Humanistic therapy
    • Eclectic approach
  6. Conflict resolution
    • Introduction
    • Conflict handling techniques
    • Anger
    • Negotiation
    • Joint problem solving
    • Problems with negotiation
    • Mediation
    • Procedure
    • Running a mediation process in a conflict situation
    • Agreements or contracts
    • Suggested timetable for a mediation session
  7. Interpersonal communication skills
    • Introduction
    • Communication channels
    • Effective communication
    • Awareness
    • Communication skills
    • Hearing verbal messages
    • Perceiving non verbal messages
    • Responding
    • Verbal and non verbal communication
    • Bodu language
    • Communication barriers
    • Self awareness
    • Self esteem
    • Specific skills: listening, paraphrasing, reflective responses, etc
    • Conversation development
    • Professional relationship building

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Identify the nature of conflict and stress and why this issue affects so many people today.
  • Identify and examine behaviours that are characterised as abnormal and compare and contrast these with behaviours characterised as healthy.
  • Explain social influence on individual behaviour.
  • Explain social influence on group behaviour.
  • Describe alternative methods of dealing with psychological problems.
  • Develop skills for resolving conflict.
  • Develop communication skills for counselling individuals.

What You Will Do

  • Find someone you know who you suspect has a type A personality. Talk to them to try to confirm if your suspicion is correct. Note (write down) the ways in which they appear to be a type A personality.
  • Talk with someone who is suffering, or has suffered stress. This might be a friend, relative, work mate, or anyone else you are able to find. Discuss their stress with them (current or past). Don’t push them, but try to discern from what they are happy to tell you, whether their stress was (or is) chronic or acute.
  • Consider conflict which occurs in either a workplace or recreation situation you are familiar with. This might be a place where you work, or a workplace you visit frequently (eg. A shop or office);or perhaps a sporting club, gymnasium or social group which you regularly attend. Make up a list of disputes or conflicts which you remember to have occurred in the past.
  • Consider an individual in your life, or else a character in a film or book, who you regard as abnormal. Consider why they are abnormal. Write down a list of reasons you are able to identify. Which method or defining abnormality was influencing your judgement of this character.
  • Find a teenager who you can interview. This might be a person you know (a relative, work colleague, member of an organisation you belong to etc), or perhaps you might contact and visit a youth club or organisation that deals with teenagers and arrange to interview someone. The person needs to be someone who exhibits some type of deviant behaviour, even if not extreme. Most teenagers will at some stage exhibit behaviour that is a deviance from social norms (even if the behaviour is not a deviance from age or peer group norms). Interview this teenager for at least 15 minutes. Make notes of your conversation, their responses (verbal and non-verbal).


People don’t always want us to see what is going on in their mind or what they really are. Everyone seems different to what they really are at times.

How often do we hear of the murderer or serial killer who was “such a nice person”, “they were so friendly”, or “I could never believe they would do something like this.” But they DO things like this. 

Serial killers will often try to make special efforts to avoid being caught. They may kill for weeks, months or years before they are caught - if at all.  So to avoid being caught, serial killers will want to “fit in”, to appear “normal” so that they are not detected. They may even appear to be “nice” people.
Ted Bundy was a serial killer and rapist who assaulted and murdered at least 30 women between 1974 and 1978.  He was described as charismatic, handsome and had personality traits that enabled him to win the confidence of his young, attractive victims. 

This is just an example to show how people can hide behind the “mask”, showing us the face they want us to see (most of the time).

So why do people hide themselves?  There are some obvious reasons. They may not like themselves. They may think others don’t like them. They may be afraid of being judged.


The famous psychiatrist, Sigmund Freud, argued that we use defence mechanisms to protect ourselves from things we don’t want to deal with or think about.  Freud argued that our personality is split into three parts: the ego, the superego, and the id.

  • The id is the childish part of ourselves. The part that wants things instantly. It is the pleasure-seeking part of our personality.
  • The ego stands between the superego and the id trying to cope with their conflicting demands.
  • The superego is the moral part of ourselves. The parent almost.

Freud argued that when the ego cannot cope with these conflicting demands, anxiety can occur. Anxiety is a signal from the ego that something is wrong. Freud suggested that defence mechanisms help shield the ego from the demands of the id and superego.

  • People may not knowingly use these defence mechanisms to cope with their anxiety, but these mechanisms can distort reality.  Defence mechanisms are not healthy, but they can allow people to adapt and function normally in the world.  Problems can arise when people overuse their defence mechanisms to avoid dealing with problems.
    These defence mechanisms can therefore help the person to “hide” away from their problems and consequently hide their problems from other people, creating their “mask”.  There are many defence mechanisms, but here we will consider some of the mechanisms that can help people to maintain their mask.


This is one of the best-known defence mechanisms. Denial is a person’s refusal to admit or recognise that something has or is happening.  The person concerned seems unable to admit reality or face the truth. For example, a drug addict denying they have a problem.  A friend may therefore recognise that a person has a problem, but the person themselves will deny it, maintaining their mask to the outside world.


This allows people to act on their unacceptable impulses by converting them to more acceptable behaviours. For example, a person who is very angry may take up an aggressive sport as a way to vent frustration and aggression.


This is another defense mechanism that involves people taking their own unacceptable feelings and ascribing them to another person.  For example, Person A may really dislike Person B, but instead, Person A will think that Person B dislikes them.  Projection allows the person to express their desire or impulse but in a way the ego cannot recognise so reducing their anxiety.

All of these are ways that the person can maintain their mask to the world and to themselves. One of the ways in which we can see a person’s true self is through their body language.

Reasons to Study This Course

This course is to counselling what our Introduction to Psychology module is to psychology. It offers the ideal overview of different approaches to counselling and the types of influences on behaviour which might lead people to seek out the services of a counsellor. Students also learn about the different groups of mental health disorders as well as differences in individual and group behaviours. Graduates will feel they have a solid insight into what is required to be a counsellor.

This course will be of particular interest to people working in, or planning to work in:

  • Counselling
  • Psychotherapy
  • Psychology
  • Social work
  • Nursing
  • Caring roles
  • Health professions


ACS is an Organisational Member of the British Institute for Learning and Development
ACS is an Organisational Member of the British Institute for Learning and Development

ACS is a Member of the Complementary Medicine Association
ACS is a Member of the Complementary Medicine Association

Member of Study Gold Coast, Education Network
Member of Study Gold Coast, Education Network

ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.

ACS is recognised by the IARC
ACS is recognised by the IARC

Need assistance?

Start Now!


  Miriam ter Borg

Youth Worker, Tutor, Author and Natural Therapist. Miriam was previously an Outdoor Pursuits Instructor, Youth Worker, Surfing College Program Coordinator, Massage Therapist, Business Owner/Manager. Miriam's qualifications include B.Sc.(Psych), DipRem.Massage, Cert Outdoor Rec.
  Tracey Jones

B.Sc. (Psych), M.Soc.Sc., Dip.Social Work, P.G.Dip Learning Disability, Cert Editing, Cert Creative Writing, PGCE. Member British Psychological Society, Member Assoc. for Coaching, Member British Learning Assoc. 25 years industry experience in writing, editing, education, psychology, and business. Tracey has several books and hundreds of articles published; in both fiction and non fiction.
  Lyn Quirk

M.Prof.Ed.; Adv.Dip.Compl.Med (Naturopathy); Adv.Dip.Sports Therapy Over 30 years as Health Club Manager, Fitness Professional, Teacher, Coach and Business manager in health, fitness and leisure industries. As business owner and former department head for TAFE, she brings a wealth of skills and experience to her role as a tutor for ACS.
  Gavin Cole

Psychologist, Educator, Author, Psychotherapist. B.Sc., Psych.Cert., M. Psych. Cert.Garden Design, MACA Gavin has over 25 years of experience in psychology, in both Australia and England. He has co-authored several psychology text books and many courses including diploma and degree level courses in psychology and counselling. Gavin has worked for ACS for over 10 years.
  Psychological Profiling
Psychological profiling is used to assess anyone from potential new staff and school children to serial killers. It helps you to determine someone’s personality, neuroses, mental health and career suitability. This book provides an excellent overview of psychological profiling techniques and pitfalls.
  Psychology Dictionary
This book provides explanations for common terms used in Psychology.
  Counselling Handbook
Discover: Where can counselling be used? How to see behind the mask. Emotions and attitudes. How to communicate better when all you have is words. Theory versus practice. Diffusing difficult situations. Golden rules or tips.
  How Children Think
Anyone who has ever tried to make a child do anything (clean up their mess, desist from throwing mud, stop drawing on the walls) knows that children think differently to adults. This book attempts to provide the skills and knowledge to develop a greater understanding of children.