Certificate in Psychology

Psychology distance education certificate course from the directory of psychology, human behaviour and counselling courses at ACS School of Psychology Distance Education, for online or correspondence study.

Course CodeVPS002
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)600 hours

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Choose this course to learn more about what people think and why

Most of us know something about psychology whether we have studied it or not. At least we think we do. You'll often hear people commenting to a psychological finding "Well that's pretty obvious". However, it's not until you study psychology that you really begin to understand the workings of the mind and why we behave in particular ways. This exciting course can: 
  • Help in so many areas of your life - work, home and sports
  • Lay a foundation for any career where you deal with people on a daily basis
  • Provide training for counsellors, teachers, managers and those working in the fields of health and community services.

Why do people study this certificate:

  • A foundation for working in counselling, management, welfare, education etc.
  • To improve skills and prospects for advancement in an existing job
  • To supplement existing qualifications (degree, diploma or certificate) by broadening their scope of expertise and general people skills


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Certificate in Psychology.
 Introduction to Psychology BPS101
 Psychology & Counselling BPS102
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 4 of the following 15 modules.
 Biopsychology I BPS108
 Counselling Skills I BPS109
 Educational Psychology BPS105
 Industrial Psychology BPS103
 Marketing Psychology BPS107
 Sports Psychology BPS106
 Conflict Management BPS201
 Counselling Techniques BPS206
 Family Counselling BPS213
 Professional Practice in Counselling BPS207
 Relationships & Communication Counselling BPS208
 Abnormal Psychology BPS307
 Criminal Psychology BPS309
 Psychological Assessment BPS308
 Psychopharmacology (Drugs & Psychology) BPS302

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



Introduction to Psychology

This course covers basic principles of human psychology. There are seven lessons in this course, as follows:

  1. The nature & scope of Psychology
  2. Neurological basis of behaviour
  3. Environmental effects on behaviour
  4. Consciousness and perception
  5. Personality
  6. Psychological development
  7. Needs, drives and motivation


Psychology and Counselling

Successful completion of this module will develop the learner’s ability to analyse psychological processes and apply that knowledge in counselling or advisory situations. There are seven lessons in this module, as follows:

  1. Stress
  2. Abnormal Behaviour
  3. Individual Behaviour
  4. Group Behaviour
  5. Methods of Dealing with Abnormalities
  6. Conflict Resolution
  7. Interpersonal Communication Skills

(selected outlines)

Child Psychology

This module is designed to provide the student with an understanding of the cognitive, behavioural and emotional development of children. There are twelve lessons in this module, as follows:

  1. Introduction to Child Psychology
  2. The Newborn Infant
  3. States & Senses of the Infant
  4. Learning
  5. Emotions and Socialisation
  6. Cognitive Development
  7. Language Development
  8. Intelligence
  9. Socialisation – Part A
  10. Morality
  11. Sexuality
  12. Socialisation – Part B


Industrial Psychology

This module will develop your understanding of how the psychological state of employees in the workplace affects both their work and their overall well being. There are ten lessons in this course, as follows:

  1. Introduction
  2. Understanding the Employees Thinking
  3. Personality & Temperament
  4. Psychological Testing
  5. Management & Managers
  6. The Work Environment
  7. Motivation and Incentives
  8. Recruitment
  9. Social Considerations
  10. Abnormalities and Disorders

Sports Psychology

Successful completion of this module will develop your skills and understanding of the psychological dimensions of sports performance and coaching. There are ten lessons in this module as follows:

  1. Introduction
  2. Psychological Traits of Successful Athletes
  3. Anxiety & Arousal
  4. Motivation
  5. Aggression
  6. Leadership & Coaching
  7. Team Dynamics
  8. Special Groups.


Educational Psychology

Successful completion of this module will develop an understanding of the psychological processes that influence learning. There are eight lessons in this module as follows:

  1. Introduction –Development & Learning Theory
  2. Behavioural Learning
  3. Information Processing
  4. Memory Retention & Loss
  5. Individual Needs
  6. Constructivist Learning
  7. Motivation

Conflict Management

This course gives the student insight into conflict and into different techniques for managing conflict to product positive outcomes. There are eight lessons in this course, as follows:

  1. Conflict Management and Anger
  2. Listening
  3. Negotiation
  4. Mediation
  5. Facilitation
  6. Balance of Power
  7. Discussion and Group Work
  8. Crisis Analysis and Responses



Successful completion of this module will develop your understanding of physiological influences on human behaviour and the influence of thoughts, feelings, perception and other psychological processes on the physiology of the body. There are seven lessons in this module as follows:

  1. Introduction
  2. The Senses
  3. The Nervous System
  4. The Endocrine System
  5. Stress
  6. Emotions
  7. Consciousness

Marketing Psychology

Successful completion of this module will develop your understanding of the psychological influences on consumers, and your ability to apply psychology to marketing. There are eight lessons in this module as follows:

  1. People as Consumers
  2. Market Segmentation
  3. Internal Influences –Perception & Personality
  4. Internal Influences –Motivation and Awareness
  5. Social Influences –Small groups and family; social class, culture etc
  6. Consumerism
  7. Communication and Persuasion
  8. Deciding to Buy

In the certificate, you will gain useful insights into human behaviour in different situations. An understanding of psychology is especially beneficial to . It is also relevant to sports and child care. This course allows you to choose modules that best meet your particular career or study needs. It is useful as a first step to further study, for increasing your employability in various areas such a social or community services or human resources, and as a complement to your existing qualifications qualifications.




Communication is anything that expresses something about our feelings, thoughts, values and beliefs.  We are continuously communicating, through our words, the tone and volume of our voices, our gestures, our facial expressions, our actions, our clothing. Yet most of our communications are subconscious – that is, we are not aware of what we are communicating, or even that we are communicating. This is one of the reasons why our relationships do not succeed and why we fail to develop or maintain the kinds of relationships that we really want.  Effective counsellors need to develop solid communication skills, and be able to teach those skills to the people they are counselling.


Communication involves information or a thought, passing from one person to another. The pathway the thought moves along is called a communication channel.  Communication can be composed of several parts including:

  • source of the message
  • encoding/interpreting
  • the message itself
  • transmission of the message 

The communication process simultaneously works between both the senders and the receivers. It is this transfer of information which makes up communication. However, there are many factors that affect the efficiency of the communication process. These factors include barriers, interpretation and the mode of communication chosen (i.e. via voice, phone, fax, sight, email, etc.)

In order to send/transmit any message each person needs to encode the message so that it can be sent. 

In order to receive any message, each person needs to decode the message so that it can be understood.  The encoding and decoding methods may result in a breakdown in the communication.  These processes are always influenced by our feelings, thoughts and perceptions, so these are the factors that we must be especially careful to consider to reduce the barriers to communication.

Effective Communication

When both sender and receiver interpret the message to mean the same thing, they have achieved effective communication, even if they disagree about the subject matter (content of the communication). When sender and receiver interpret the message differently, the communication is ineffective.
To communicate effectively, you need to know where communication breakdown can occur, and communicate in a way that reduces or eliminates potential misunderstanding. 
We all generally communicate fairly well – don’t we?
Good communication is often misunderstood. Many people think that a good communicator is someone with a large vocabulary who speaks easily and with confidence. Others think that a good communicator always uses positive, friendly language to make people feel happy and safe. Others believe that a good communicator focuses on the facts, gets to the point, and says only what needs to be said. However, each of these kinds of communication can be just as unproductive and destructive as any other kind of bad communication. For instance, if a man who speaks well in front of others and makes interesting speeches talks to his wife about caring, but doesn’t listen, he is not communicating well. If a woman always compliments her co-workers, and agrees with them, and tells them she is “just a little tired” when she is really angry, she is not communicating well. If a doctor advises a patient that he is dying because he wants to give his hospital bed to someone with a chance of recovery, he is not communicating well.

Although truth, skill and good feeling are important parts of good communication, we can see that good communication is more than these. Firstly, being a good communicator is a two-way process – to be a good communicator you must be a good listener.  It involves being sensitive to our own feelings and to the feelings of others, being focused on our communication goals, and informative. No matter who we communicate with and in what circumstances, good communication is the key to building and maintaining positive relationships.

A good communicator is, or tries to be aware of the following:

  • the situation surrounding the communication (what happened before and is happening now)
  • their own feelings and thoughts about the situation or other person
  • what the other person is feeling and thinking (through listening reflectively)
  • their own needs and goals in this situation
  • the other person’s needs and goals (through questioning and checking)
  • their own communication strengths and weaknesses
  • the other person’s communication strengths and weaknesses.

Interpersonal communication covers all aspects of communication between individuals or between individuals and groups. It includes much more than just the words we say, which is only one means of communicating. Whether or not we are aware of it, we communicate through many means, and may be communicating through several channels at once.


Trainee counsellors or psychologists who develop their communication skills develop their own self-awareness.  This is because developing communication skills requires taking a look at your present communication style and being brutally honest with what currently works and what needs improvement. Communication skills are grouped as:

Hearing verbal messages
These messages are the apparent and underlying cognitive and affective content of the person's statements.

Perceiving nonverbal messages
Sent via body language, vocal tone, facial expression, and other cues that accompany verbal messages. The emotion the sender is experiencing can be picked up at this level so that empathy can be conveyed. Perceiving the non-verbal messages can also assist the trainee recognise inconsistencies between verbal and non-verbal messages.

Immediate genuine, empathic reaction is required for verbal and nonverbal messages. The response should consider apparent and underlying content of messages and perceived non-verbal messages.

Verbal and non-verbal communication
Verbal communication involves the use of words: spoken or written. Even a person who thinks they are not communicating can be sending messages. Non-verbal communication involves other signals or messages   pictures, music, body language (the way the body moves or is held, gestures, facial expression, eye contact etc.).

Many communication experts assign greater importance to non-verbal communication in ordinary conversation, than what they assign to verbal communication. Albert Mehrabian suggests in his book Communication Without Words, the following breakdown of impact in a normal conversation:

  • 7% verbal (i.e.: From what you say)
  • 25% vocal (i.e.: From how you say it)
  • 68% facial (i.e.: From the way you move your eyes, raise the eyebrows, smile or frown etc).


Some Sample Notes from Our Sports Psychology Course -


Most psychologists agree that there are 4 steps in building a team:

  1. Forming
  2. Storming
  3. Norming
  4. Performing


This is a process that involves familiarising individual team members with each other. Through interactions (e.g. training, playing together, meetings, socialising, etc) they can test and discover one another’s weaknesses and strengths, and those discoveries contribute towards forming the individuals into a unified group. Social get-togethers for a club helps build a team.


This involves negative interaction (e.g. conflict, fighting, rebellion, polarisation, aggression) surfacing and then being dealt with so they are eliminated from the team.

Commonly conflict within a team is social conflict (though it may not be obvious that it is social conflict). Storming is dealing with issues such as competition between individuals for status or attention from other members, or the coach. When the storm subsides, the issues should be resolved. Be careful that the underlying issue is not simply buried…it should be resolved.


This involves getting organised. The tendency for individuals to go in different directions has been largely overcome, and the collective as well as individual desire, has been to go in the same direction. Each member of the team will be developing a growing respect for each other


At this stage the group’s energies are focused most strongly on achieving the group goals. The team members have a close and mature rapport for each other. Relationships are secure and stable in such a team. This stage is achieved by avoiding rather than promoting interpersonal aggression or intra-team aggression; and by all members (including the coach) being positive and supportive towards ALL other members (and never negative).

How This Course Could Help You

This course provides a sound starting point for the study of psychology. Students can opt to make their certificate more counselling orientated or more psychology orientated depending on their particular interests. Whatever their preference, a grounding in psychology is not only a good choice of qualification for personal development and satisfying one's curiosity about human nature, but it is also applicable to many areas of life both in work and outside of it.

Students who study this course may be attracted to a variety of fields such as:

  • Caring roles
  • Health professions
  • Psychology
  • Counselling    
  • Psychotherapy
  • Personnel management
  • General management
  • Human relations
  • Coaching

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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 fo
Jacinda Cole

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 Psycholo
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,
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