PSYCH205: Clinical Psychology

Course Syllabus for "PSYCH205: Clinical Psychology"

DISCLAIMER: This course is designed to address the fundamentals of clinical psychology. It will NOT provide the education or experience needed for the diagnosing and treating of mental disorders. This course will cover the basic concepts of clinical psychology, or the study of diagnosing, treating, and understanding abnormal and maladaptive behaviors. We frequently refer to these behaviors—which include depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia—as mental diseases or disorders. While you might have a general understanding of these disorders, this course will cover each in great detail. Many of you are likely familiar with the idea of therapy, whether because you or someone you know has been in therapy, or because you have seen it in popular TV shows or movies. Because many approaches to therapy draw from research on clinical populations—that is, populations suffering from some sort of mental disorder—therapy is closely related to the field of psychopathology. Although this class will not teach you how to conduct therapy—see PSYCH404, or Psychotherapy for an in-depth look at the subject—it will provide you with a solid understanding of the etiology and symptoms of a number of disorders. Much of the information in this course is based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV-TR (DSM), the industry standard for both clinical psychologists and psychiatrists who reference it frequently in order to diagnose mental disorders. A new version of this manual is due to be published soon, and it will likely challenge some commonly held ideas about certain disorders. This brings up an important point about clinical psychology: few issues in the field have hard-and-fast answers. Much is left up to debate and subjective opinion. As such, rather than providing you with step-by-step directions, this course has been designed to provide you with in-depth, current information about mental disease and related aspects. We will begin this course by reviewing the historical context from which clinical psychology emerged, and defining the major roles clinical psychologists fill and the tasks in which they engage. We will then discuss current paradigms and classification methods before learning about individual disorders, their treatments, and common explanations concerning their origins. We will conclude with an introduction to methods of intervention.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • describe the historical context of the emergence of clinical psychology;
  • identify the differences between mental health professionals in the broad field of clinical psychology;
  • identify the subspecialty areas within clinical psychology (e.g., community psychology, health psychology, and neuropsychology);
  • define the main tasks of the clinical psychologist and explain how the contributions of this subspecialty fit into or relate to the broader field of psychology;
  • define the criteria for what is considered abnormal versus normal and explain how these definitions fit into the notion that psychopathology exists on a continuum;
  • compare/contrast the different types of psychotherapy treatments;
  • discuss the ethical considerations related to the practice of psychotherapy;
  • list the main diagnostic features of a variety of mental disorders (e.g., mood disorders, schizophrenia, etc.);
  • identify the potential factors that can contribute to the instigation and persistence of mental illness for individuals across the lifespan (e.g., children, adults, and older adults);
  • identify the clusters of symptoms which manifest in mental illness; and
  • describe the components of the biopsychosocial model of disease.

Course Requirements

In order to take this course, you must

√    have access to a computer;

√    have continuous broadband Internet access;

√    have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g. Adobe Reader or Flash);

√    have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer;

√    have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.);

√    have competency in the English language;

√    have read the Saylor Student Handbook; and

√    have completed the following courses listed in the Core Program of the Psychology Discipline: PSYCH101: Introduction to Psychology; PSYCH201/MA121: Introduction to Statistics; PSYCH202B: Research Methods Lab; PSYCH203/BIO101: Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology; and, PSYCH204/BIO102: Introduction to Evolutionary Biology and Ecology.

Course Information

NOTE: This course is best viewed using Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox web browser. Course resources and information might not load properly using other web browsers (e.g., Google Chrome, Safari).

Welcome to PSYCH205: Clinical Psychology. General information on the course and its requirements can be found below.
Primary Resources: This course is composed of a range of free, online materials. However, the course makes primary use of:

  • University of Houston: Professor Edward Sheridan’s Lecture Series, Clinical Psychology; and
  • The United States Department of Health and Human Services’ MentalHealth: A Report of the Surgeon General (1999).

Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned materials. Pay special attention to Units 1 and 2, as these lay the groundwork for understanding the more advanced, exploratory material presented in the later units. You will also need to complete:

  • The Final Exam

Note that you will only receive an official grade for the Final Exam. However, in order to adequately prepare for this exam, you will need to work through all of the materials in the course.
In order to pass this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the Final Exam. Your score on the exam will be tabulated following its completion. If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again, after a 14-day wait period.
Time Commitment: This course should take you a total of 60.25 hours to complete. Each unit includes a time advisory that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit. These advisories are intended to help you plan your time accordingly. It might be useful to take a look at these advisories and to determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit, and then to set goals for yourself. For example, unit 1 should take 9.5 hours to complete. Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to complete subunit 1.1 (a total of 2.5 hours) on Monday night, half of subunit 1.2 (a total of 3.5 hours) on Tuesday night, the rest of subunit 1.2 (a total of 3.5 hours) on Wednesday night, etc.