Certificate in Adolescent Studies

Learn to understand and work with teenagers by better understanding the mind and behavioural inclinations of a teenager.

Course Code: VPS031
Fee Code: CT
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 600 hours
Qualification Certificate
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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 certificate requires successful completion of 3 core modules and 3 elective modules.  In total, the course consists of six x 100 hour modules. Within each module are a number of lessons.  Each of these culminates in an assignment for submission to the school. The assignment is marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments and, where appropriate, extra reading.


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Certificate in Adolescent Studies.
 Adolescent Psychology BPS211
 Child and Adolescent Mental Health BPS214
 Developmental, Learning and Behavioural Disorders in Children and Adolescents 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 Certificate in Adolescent Studies is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.

The content of each module is outlined below.

1. Adolescent Psychology

The module looks at the theories of human development, taking in all aspects of an adolescents development - including physical, intellectual, emotional, social and moral development.  It considers issues that arise during adolescence such as sexuality, dealing with crises that arise and juvenile delinquency.

The module consists of 10 lessons:- 

  • Introduction (Theories of Human Development)
  • Life Crises
  • Physical Development
  • Intellectual Development
  • Emotional Development
  • Sexuality
  • Social Development
  • Moral Development
  • Delinquency and Crime
  • Adolescents and The Transition to Adulthood


2. Child and Adolescent Mental Health

This is an in depth module which looks at mental health conditions in children and adolescents; from recognising issues to how to treat them.

The module consists of 10 lessons:- 

  • Nature and Scope of Mental Health.  Looking at the difference between adult and child and adolescent mental health
  • Childhood Depression
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Tic Disorders
  • Brain Disorders (injuries and disease)
  • Other Disorders (motor disorders, elimination disorders, feeding and eating disorders)
  • Environmental Problems (abuse, neglect, relationship problems)
  • Problems of Adolescence
  • Holistic and Alternative Approaches to Treatment
  • Special Project – student selected


3. Developmental, Learning and Behavioural Conditions in Adolescents and Children

This module is concerned with looking at behavioural and learning conditions in adolescents and children.  The lessons cover a range of topics which will lead to an understanding of the signs, symptoms and treatment available.

 The module consists of 9 lessons:- 

  • Developmental Disorders (Classification, Causes, Diagnosis)
  • Autism (Signs, Symptoms, Treatment, Support)
  • Asperger’s Disorder (Signs, Symptoms, Treatment, Support)
  • Other Pervasive Development Disorders (Signs, Symptoms, Treatment, Support)
  • Attention-Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorders (Signs, Symptoms, Treatment, Support)
  • Conduct Disorders (Signs, Symptoms, Treatment, Support)
  • Learning Disorders (Signs, Symptoms, Treatment, Support)
  • Communication Disorders & Motor Skills Disorder – focusing on speech and language (Signs, Symptoms, Treatment, Support)
  • Special Project – student selected, which considers signs, symptons, treatment and support in relation to the chosen area

What will you learn about in this course?

In the Child and Adolescent Mental Health module, you will learn to understand how adolescents think.
Below are just some sample course notes to give you an idea of what the module will cover.

Separation Anxiety Disorder
This is characterised by intense fear of being separated from key attachment figures, most usually the parents. Although it is usual for infants and preschool children to experience some level of anxiety when separated from attachment figures the anxiety displayed by children with this condition is much more intense and persists after the preschool period.

Onset is before six years of age, lasts at least for four consecutive weeks, and causes significant disturbances to social, school or other areas of functioning.

Children show excessive concerns that their attachment figures will come to harm if they leave them or that the attachment figure will not come back and leave them for good. If separated they often need to remain in touch through telephone calls, emails, etc. They often cling to their attachment figures when they are present and may insist on sleeping in the same bed or room as them. If they are forced to sleep in their own room they may have disturbed sleep and nightmares. Often they will go to their parents’ bed or may sleep on the floor outside the parent's room if the door is locked.

There are often associated physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach upsets, or sickness and vomiting. Behavioural changes may reveal angry outbursts, temper tantrums, excess crying, or the child may become more withdrawn socially. It is also a strong indicator of refusing to attend school.

  • Prevalence and Course - it is thought to affect around 3-4% of children aged 7-11 years. Symptoms usually alleviate with age but can become worse if there are upheavals to the child's life or usual routine e.g. moving to a new school, moving house, death of a pet. Separation anxiety disorder can predispose the child to panic disorder or agoraphobia in adolescence.
  • Causes - onset may be triggered by persistent frightening experiences e.g. living through a war, emigrating, or on-going parental conflict, or by brief frightening experiences e.g. death of a relative, an illness. Occasionally it might occur in children with overprotective parents. Also, some children seem to have an anxiety-prone temperament in that they overreact to everyday stressors rendering them more susceptible. There is also a higher incidence amongst children who have a mother with a history of panic disorder and amongst first degree biological relatives.
  • Treatment - this usually involves an assessment of all the contributing factors. Children must be encouraged to discuss their concerns and the family should be involved in treatment. Parents should be educated about how their own worries and possible overprotection can contribute. Stressors need to be alleviated where feasible. If specific situations where the anxiety occurs are found then these might be addressed using behavioural therapy techniques. Rarely, anxiolytic medication may be prescribed for a brief period.


Phobic Anxiety Disorder (Specific Phobia)
Many children experience minor symptoms of phobia and these often revolve around insects such as spiders, animals such as snakes, darkness, death, and sometimes school (which some authors refer to as school phobia). In some cases symptoms of anxiety associated with situations or objects of fear become prolonged and exaggerated and the child develops a specific phobia. The response to specific objects or situations can be in the form of a panic attack. Unlike adolescents and adults, children who experience phobic anxiety disorder do not recognise that their fear is unreasonable. Often phobic stimuli are avoided but if not they may be endured with accompanying feelings of dread and apprehension.

It is quite common for children to have fears associated with particular objects or situations but these may not cause significant impairment in their level of functioning. A child might express intense fear of snakes in the presence of a snake but if they do not encounter them in daily life and their activities are not limited by a fear of snakes. Diagnosis is made only if the fear associated with the stimuli, in encountering it, avoiding it, or through thinking about it, causes significant disruption to the child's social life or other areas of functioning.  Diagnosis may also be made if the child is significantly distressed by having a specific phobia.

Specific phobias are often given a subtype e.g. animal type, natural environment type, blood-injection-injury type, situational type, or other type where it does not fit into any of the former types e.g. fear of contracting an illness.

  • Prevalence & Course - around 2% of children aged 11 years have a specific phobia. Severe and persistent fears of animals and insects usually have onset before the age of 6 years. Most childhood phobias alleviate with age so the rate significantly declines during adolescence, however many specific phobias found in adults had their onset in childhood. Often, the fear-arousing object or situation caused some amount of distress before it became a specific phobia.
  • Causes - there seem to be several potential causes including observing others expressing fear when confronted with a particular object or situation (especially a role model e.g. parent or teacher), being continually warned about danger by parents (e.g. don't pat dogs they might attack you), hearing constant bad news about something (e.g. plane crashes), experiencing an unexpected panic attack in a given fear-provoking situation, or having a traumatic experience (e.g. being attacked by a dog, being locked in a classroom). 
  • Treatment - whilst many childhood phobias alleviate with age, those that do not may be treated using behavioural techniques. These involve hierarchical exposure or systematic desensitisation. The child is encouraged to begin by thinking about the feared object or situation and gradually over a number of weeks they eventually confront the object or situation having conquered their fears to some extent along the way. Parents may be involved to reassure the child and offer support.


Social Anxiety Disorder 
In the ICD social anxiety disorder of childhood is characterised by marked anxiousness of children in the presence of strangers. They tend to try and avoid meeting new people. In some cases this is restricted to a fear of unknown adults but in other cases it may be a fear of other unknown children. It occurs before the age of six years and is much more pronounced than the typical fear of strangers shown by infants aged 6-12 months. Often children who develop this condition were inhibited during infancy. The child does not also experience acute anxiety if separated from attachment figures.  

The DSMs most similar condition is social phobia which is characterised by a persistent fear of social performance situations and which will be reviewed in the next section since onset is more often in adolescence.

  • Prevalence & Course - there are no clear estimates of prevalence in the general population
  • Causes & Treatment - these are similar to other anxiety disorders of childhood

Who Can Gain From Studying This Course?

Young people are caught between childhood and adulthood and as such have a unique set of circumstances to cope with in their everyday lives. Many youngsters sail through adolescence, but for some problems emerge. This certificate equips students with a deeper level of understanding of issues affecting young people as well as the typical developmental stages they pass through.  Students will become aware of how to recognise problems and the types of interventions which are most likely to be of help. Whether you are a parent or carer, or you interact with adolescents in your daily work, this course may be of use to you.

People who take this course are likely to be working in, or aiming to work in:

  • Youth work
  • Child counselling
  • Child care
  • School counselling
  • Teaching
  • Youth coaching
  • Child psychology

How can I start this course?

You can enrol at anytime and start the course when you are ready. Enrolments are accepted all year - students can commence study at any time. All study is self paced and ACS does not set assignment deadlines.

Please note that if a student is being assisted by someone else (e.g. an employer or government subsidy), the body offering the assistance may set deadlines. Students in such situations are advised to check with their sponsor prior to enrolling. The nominal duration of a course is approximately how long a course takes to complete. A course with a nominal duration of 100 hours is expected to take roughly 100 hours of study time to complete. However, this will vary from student to student. Short courses (eg. 100 hrs duration) should be completed within 12 months of enrolment. Certificates, Advanced Certificates and Awards (eg. over 500 hours duration) would normally be completed within 3 -5 years of enrolment. Additional fees may apply if a student requires an extended period to complete.
If a student cannot submit their assignments for 6 months to ACS, they should advise the school to avoid cancellation of their student
registration. Recommencement fees may apply.

Simply click on the ENROL OPTIONS button at the top of this screen and follow the prompts.

You can see the course price at the top of this page. Click 'enrolment options' to see any payment options available.

You can pay by Credit Card, PayPal, Afterpay or bank transfer.

Yes! We have payment plans for most courses. Click 'enrolment options' to see the available payment plans.
We also have Afterpay that will allow you to pay for your course or payment plans in four instalments (if you are in Australia).

What do I need to know before I enrol?

There are no entry requirements that you need to meet to enrol in our courses, our courses are for everyone.
If you are under 18, we need written permission from your parent/ guardian for your enrolment to continue, we can arrange that after you have enrolled.

You don’t need to purchase any additional resources to complete our courses.

We aim to teach you the essentials without you having to purchase any specific computer program.
We recommend that you have access to a word processing program, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs, so that you can easily complete and submit your assignments.

You sure can. We are here to help you learn whatever your abilities.

Yes, if you are enrolling in a Certificate or Advanced Certificate, you might be eligible for credits if you have evidence of your previous studies or relevant experience. More information is here.

We recommend that you are able to browse websites, send emails and conduct online research. You will need to be able to type and submit your assignments.
If you have limited computer skills, we can make special arrangements for you.

This is possible, it depends on the institution. We recommend that if you would like to use our courses that you contact the institution first. Our Course Handbook is a good resource for this.

Our courses are written in English and we only have English speaking academic staff. If you can read and complete your assignments in English, our courses are ideal for you.

Our courses are designed to build knowledge, hands on skills and industry connections to help prepare you to work in the area, running your own business, professional development or as a base for further study.

This course is aimed at providing you with a solid understanding in your selected discipline. It has been designed to take 600 hours, which includes your course reading, assignment work, research, practical tasks, watching videos and more. When you complete the course, will have a good understanding of the area/ industry you want to work in.

It’s up to you. The study hours listed in the course are a rough guide, however if you were to study a short course (100 hours) at 10 hours per week, you could finish the course in 10 weeks (just an example). Our courses are self-paced, so you can work through the courses in your own time. We recommend that you wait for your tutor to mark and return your assignment before your start your next one, so you get the benefits of their feedback.

The course consists of course notes, videos, set tasks for your practical work, online quizzes, an assignment for each lesson (that you receive feedback from your tutor from) and ends in an exam (which is optional, if would like to receive the formal award at the end), using our custom built Learning Management System - Login.Training.

Our courses are designed for adults to gain professional development and skills to further their careers and start businesses.

Our custom online learning portal allows you to conduct your learning online. There may be practical tasks that you can do offline. You have the option of downloading your course notes or print them to read later.

There is also the option to pay an additional fee for printed course notes and or USB (availability limited to location and deliverability).

Yes, if you don’t have access to the internet, you can receive the course as paper notes or on a USB stick for an additional fee. We can also make alternative arrangements for you to send your assignments to us.

We offer printed notes for an additional fee. Also, you can request your course notes on a USB stick for an additional fee.

Yes, your tutor is here to help you. Simply post any questions you have in your login.training portal or contact the office and we can pass on a message to your tutor.

We are more learning focussed, rather than assessment focussed. You have online quizzes to test your learning, written assignments and can complete an exam at the end of the course (if you want to receive your certificate). You will not receive a pass/ fail on your course work. If you need to add more details on your assignment, we will ask you to resubmit and direct you where you need to focus. If you need help, you can ask your tutor for advice in the student room.

Each module (short course) is completed with one exam.

Exams are optional, however you must sit an exam if you would like to receive a formal award. You will need to find someone who can supervise that you are sitting the exams under exams conditions. There is an additional cost of $60 incl. GST for each exam.
More information is here

There are practical components built into the course that have been designed to be achieved by anyone, anywhere. If you are unable to complete a task for any reason, you can ask your tutor for an alternative.

When you complete the course work and the exams (6 exams) and you will be able receive your course certificate- a Certificate. Otherwise, you can receive a Letter of Completion.

You can bundle the short courses to create your own customised learning bundle, Certificates or Advanced Certificates. More information is on this page.

Yes, our courses are built to be applicable for people living anywhere in any situation. We provide the fundamentals, and each student can apply their own unique flair for their own interests, region and circumstances with the one-on-one guidance of a tutor. There is also a bit of student directed research involved.

Employers value candidates with industry skills, knowledge, practical skills and formal learning. Our courses arm you with all of these things to help prepare you for a job or start your own business. The longer you study the more you will learn.

ACS has an arrangement with OAMPS (formerly AMP) who can arrange Professional Indemnity from Australian and New Zealand graduates across all disciplines. Ph: 1800 222 012 or email acs@oamps.com.au.

Who are ACS Distance Education?

ACS Distance Education have been educating people for over 40 years.

We are established and safe- we have been in education for over 40 years.
We are focused on developing innovative courses that are relevant to you now and what you will need to know in the future.
We are focused on helping you learn and make the most of your experience.
You can enrol at any time, you can work on your course when it suits you and at your own pace.
We are connected to many industry bodies and our staff participate in continuous improvement and learning activities to ensure that we are ahead of what learning is needed for the future.

Our courses are not accredited by the Australian Government. However many of our courses are recognised and held in high regard by many industry bodies.

Our courses are written by our staff, who all have many years experience and have qualifications in their speciality area. We have lots of academic staff who write and update our courses regularly.

How do I enrol my staff/ sponsored students?

Yes, you can do a request for a bulk enrolment and request an invoice on our Invoice Request Form

We can prepare an invoice, quote or proforma invoice. Simply complete your details on our Invoice Request form

We can arrange bulk discounts for your course enrolment, please get in touch with us to discuss your needs.

Yes, we have many students who are in locked facilities, such as prisons or hospitals. We can cater by also offering paper notes at an additional cost.

What if I have any more questions or need more information?

We can assist you to find the right course for your needs. Get in touch with us via email (admin@acs.edu.au) call on +61 7 5562 1088 or complete our course advice form.

What if I change my mind?

Please get in touch with studentservices@acs.edu.au if you would like to be removed from our mail list.

If you would like ACS Distance Education to delete your information at any time (whether you are a customer or a prospective customer), please contact our privacy officer and we will process this ( admin@acs.edu.au ).

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Jacinda Cole (Psychologist)

Psychologist, Educator, Author, Psychotherapist.
B.Sc., Psych.Cert., M. Psych. Cert.Garden Design, MACA
Jacinda has over 25 years of experience in psychology, in both Australia and England. She holds a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and a Masters in Psychology (Clinical) and also trained in psychoanalytic psychotherapy at the London Centre for Psychotherapy. She has co-authored several psychology text books and many courses including diploma and degree level courses in psychology and counselling. Jacinda has worked for ACS for over 10 years.

Tracey Jones (Psychologist)

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.


Meet some of the tutors that guide the students through this course.

Lyn Quirk

Lyn has 35 years of experience in the Fitness, Health and Leisure Industries. She has a string of qualifications that are far too long to list here; being qualified and registered to teach, coach or instruct a wide range of different sports and other skills.

Lyn established and managed Health clubs at three major five star resorts on Australia's Gold Coast, including The Marriott. She was a department head for a large government vocational college (TAFE), and has conducted her own aquafitness business for many years. Lyn has among her other commitments worked as a tutor for ACS for almost 10 years, and over that time, participated in the development or upgrading of most courses in her fields of expertise.

Sarah Pirecki

A passionate advocate for animal health and welfare. Sarah completed a Bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Bioscience majoring in Animal Health and Disease and is currently completing a Diploma of Project Management. She has a wide range of experience working in agricultural settings, veterinary nursing, assistance dog raising, and animal education.

Yvonne Sharpe

Over 30 years of experience in horticulture, education and management, Yvonne has travelled widely within and beyond Europe, and has worked in many areas of horticulture from garden centres to horticultural therapy. She has served on industry committees and been actively involved with amateur garden clubs for decades.

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