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Study the adolescent mind

Learn how they think, why they think the way they do and how they develop

Understand more about theories of human development, crime, moral and social development, the transition to adulthood, emotions and much more with this great distance learning course.
A course for anyone who wants to learn more about teenagers. When you understand how and why teens think the way they do; it becomes easier to comprehend and manage their behaviour.  For adults who are well beyond their own adolescent experience; it can be frustrating and even disarming to see a child with relatively predictable behaviour, changing into a teen whose actions are increasingly erratic. 
This course can both diffuse that sense of frustration and improve your capacity to influence the young person you are dealing with.

Course Structure

The course consists of ten lessons including –

1. Introduction – Theories of Human Development – What is adolescence? Piaget’s theory of Cognitive Development, The stages of Piaget’s theories, moral development, Erikson’s psychosocial development theory, stages.

2. Life Crises – Life crisis, problems, puberty, attachment theory, internalised and externalized problems , types of problems experienced by adolescents.

3. Physical Development – puberty in females, puberty in males, hormones, physical activity, obesity.

4. Intellectual Development – Piaget’s formal operations stage, school problems.

5. Emotional Development – Freud’s theories, emotional problems, teenagers and grief, eating problems, depression, emotional problems, typical childhood responses to grief, supporting a grieving child.

6. Sexuality – acquisition of gender identity and social role identity, vicarious learning and sexual identity, gender identity disorders, curiosity, sex, sexual behaviour, masturbation, sexuality and nudity, answering questions.

7. Social Development - family influence, types of parenting, denigration of parents.

8. Moral Development – Piaget’s theory of moral development, Kohlberg’s theory of moral reasoning.

9. Delinquency and Crime – juvenile delinquency, pathways to delinquency, gangs, crimes more likely in adolescence, behaviour problems, drugs, solvents and alcohol, child abuse, triggers of abuse, stranger abuse, how to deal with deviance.

10. Adolescents and the Transition to Adulthood – Erikson’s later stages – the transition to adulthood.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.



  • Develop an understanding of the theories of child development in relation to adolescents.
  • Develop an understanding of life crises in relation to adolescents.
  • Develop an understanding of the physical changes that occur in puberty.
  • Develop an understanding of the intellectual changes that occur in adolescence.
  • Develop an understanding of the emotional development that occurs during adolescence.
  • Develop an understanding of sexuality during adolescence
  • Develop an understanding of the social development that occurs in adolescence.
  • Develop an understanding of the theories of moral development in relation to teenagers.
  • Consider the links between adolescence and delinquent activity such as crime.
  • Develop an understanding of the changes that occur moving from adolescence to adulthood.


Duration   The course requires 100 hours of study. We find most students complete 100 hours in three to six months, but it does depend on you and how much time you have available for studying.
Start Date You can start the course at any time to suit you.


Adolescence is a Period of Rapid Change

As children mature their peers become more influential in their lives and their relationships with them evolve. Adolescents have to learn to deal with feelings of sexual attraction as their bodies become stimulated by hormones. They may be involved in teenage romances.  They also learn to become more independent from their parents and this means changing social roles as they begin to work out who they are. 

According to the famous psychoanalyst, Erikson (1963) we pass through eight different stages of development from infancy to late adulthood and each presents us with a psychosocial conflict we must resolve in order to move forward successfully with our lives. During adolescence the conflict is between developing our identity and role confusion. In the pursuit of self-identity, adolescents test out different roles. In order to distinguish themselves from their parents, they may behave in opposite ways to their parents. For instance, if their parents prefer safe activities they may choose more risky ones. Failure during this stage can lead to confusion about one's identity or negative identity such as that of a juvenile delinquent.  
As adolescents shift from emotional support of parents to peers, they also have more freedom and it can become a stressful time for some. Although adolescence is often painted as a time of 'storm and stress' the literature would seem to suggest that it is only stressful for a minority. This minority may experience conflict and stress in their relationships with their parents and adults generally. 

Given that during this transition to adulthood adolescents identify with their peers, they become more influenced by their friends. If their friends engage in risky type behaviours or the peers they want to be accepted by do, they are more likely to act in the same way. Of course, overall adolescents are not all purveyors of bad behaviour. It is actually more likely that their friends will try to stop them from behaving poorly. Usually adolescents just develop ways of behaving that demarcate them from younger generations and adults. The interact using their own slang terms and dress in ways that define their groups.     

Why Do You Want to Study?

Some may work with teanagers in a professional capacity, perhaps as a youth worker, teacher or family counsellor. Others may take this course for more personal reasons, such as better understanding and managing troubled teens in their own family.


If you are interested in learning more about teenagers and how they think and develop, then why not enrol today? 





Register to Study - Go to “It’s Easy to Enrol” box at the top of the page and you can enrol now.


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Study the Psychology of Teenagers

Study at your pace with our tutors there to help you every step of the way.

  • Understand the behaviour and theory behind working and living with adolescents.
  • Develop an understanding of the changes that adolescents go through during their teenage years.
Adolescence is a time between being a child and being an adult.  Over this time, there are many physical and psychological changes (eg. in relation to sexuality, physiology, emotions, moral perception, self-esteem, etc).  Adolescence can be difficult both for the adolescent, and for people interacting with them (family, friends, professionals etc). morally during the adolescent period.

COURSE AIM   Develop your understanding of the developmental changes that occur during adolescence.

Meet some of our academics

Tracey Jones B.Sc. (Hons) (Psychology), M.Soc.Sc (social work), DipSW (social work), PGCE (Education), PGD (Learning Disability Studies) Tracey began studying psychology in 1990. She has a wide range of experience within the psychology and social work field, particularly working with people with learning disabilities. She is also qualified as a teacher and now teaches psychology and social work related subjects. She has been a book reviewer for the British Journal of Social Work and has also written many textbooks, blogs, articles and ebooks on psychology, writing, sociology, child development and more. She has had also several short stories published.
Miriam ter BorgPsychologist, Youth Worker, Teacher, Author and Natural Therapist. Miriam was previously an Outdoor Pursuits Instructor, Youth Worker, Surfing College Program Coordinator, Massage Therapist, Business Owner/Manager. Miriam's qualifications include B.Sc.(Psych), DipRem.Massage, Cert Ourdoor Rec.
Lyn Quirk M.Ed.,Dip.Med.,Dip.SportsOver 35 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.M.Prof.Ed.; Adv.Dip.Compl.Med (Naturopathy); Adv.Dip.Sports Therapy
Gavin Cole B.Sc.,M.Psych.Psychologist, Educator, Author, Psychotherapist. B.Sc., Psych.Cert., M. Psych. Cert.Garden Design, MACA Gavin has over 25 years of experience in psychology, in both Australia and England. He has co-authored several psychology text books and many courses including diploma and degree level courses in psychology and counselling. Gavin has worked for ACS for over 10 years.

Check out our eBooks

Counselling HandbookA book for both students, as well as volunteers who may be involved in helping people with problems. This is a starting point for understanding counselling, and a reference for developing counselling skills. The book contains seven chapters: 1. Where can counselling be used 2. How to see behind the mask 3. Emotions and attitudes 4. How to communicate better when all you have is words 5. Theory versus practice 6. Diffusing difficult situations 7. Golden rules or tips
Family & Relationships CounsellingThe Family and Relationships Counselling ebook is an informative and helpful read for anyone who wants to improve their relationships or even help other people improve or nurture their own relationships.
Psychological ProfilingPsychological profiling is used to assess anyone from potential new staff and school children to serial killers. It helps you to determine someone’s personality, neuroses, mental health and career suitability. This book provides an excellent overview of psychological profiling techniques and pitfalls.
Working With PeopleAre you a "people person" looking for a job; or a better understanding of careers that might suit you? If so, this book was written for YOU!