Which Topics Are Covered in an Abnormal Psychology Course?

Abnormal psychology deals with mental abnormalities, such as neuroses, psychoses and mental disabilities. Read on to find out what other topics are covered in an abnormal psychology course. Schools offering Human Behavior degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Abnormal Psychology Course Structure

If you take an abnormal psychology course, you will cover topics like the classification of disorders, diagnoses, treatments and rehabilitation. You are also likely to cover the social implications of abnormal psychology, as well as legal and ethical implications of abnormalities.

Important Facts About This Course

DegreesAssociate's, bachelor's, master's, doctoral, certificate
Degree Field Psychology
Concentrations Counseling; industrial/organization psychology; human resources; health psychology
Online AvailabilityPrograms with abnormal psychology courses are available in hybrid format

Classification and Diagnosis

Many abnormal psychology courses will begin by teaching you how to classify, assess and diagnose mental disorders. Lectures are likely to include information about the history of assessment and diagnoses of abnormal psychological disorders and an overview of various psychological tests. You will learn how to administer intelligence and neuropsychological tests, and you will gain an understanding of personality inventories.

Abnormal Psychological Disorders and Treatment

Most courses will provide you with a foundational understanding of the symptoms, theories and known causes of anxiety disorders, somatoform and dissociative disorders, substance abuse, cognitive disorders, mood disorders and schizophrenia. You will study how these disorders have been treated throughout history, and you'll examine psychotherapeutic interventions for these disorders. You are also likely to discuss the effectiveness of using medication to treat mental illness and the potential for overmedicating.

Legal and Ethical Issues

Another part of your course material will examine the different legal and ethical issues related to abnormal psychological conditions and their treatment. In your class, you will discuss the differences between criminal commitment, civil commitment and voluntary hospitalization. Additionally, you will cover how the law defines different mental disorders and the challenges related to predicting dangerous or violent behavioral patterns.

Social Issues

A section of your abnormal psychology course will cover how society views individuals who suffer from mental illness. You'll discuss the social stigma of people with mental illness and how it affects their ability and desire to seek treatment for their problems.

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