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 Code: VPS002
Fee Code: CT
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 600 hours
Qualification Certificate
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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 17 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
 Criminal Profiling BPS227
 Emotional Intelligence BPS223
 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

Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.
Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.
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.
Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.
Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.

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.

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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.

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Course Contributors

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

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.

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.

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.

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