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Clinical Psychology

Syllabus for pre-PhD Distance learning course on Psychology


Davit Gevorgyan, Ph.D, Associate Professor
Yerevan State University, Distance Learning Laboratory

1. Course module description
Clinical psychology deals with the search for, and applications of, psychological principles and methods aimed at assessing and explaining unique or special problems of the individual, group or family, assisting clients to function more meaningfully and effectively, and helping to prevent future problems. This course module presents an introduction to clinical psychology as a subarea of psychology by considering the scientific methods used in clinical psychology as well as descriptive, etiological, and treatment perspectives on various forms of psychopathology. The course module is based on the bio-psycho-social model of mental disorders and includes such topics as: principles and ethics of clinical psychology, classification, diagnostics and etiology of disorders, types of intervention, description of schizophrenia, depressive and anxiety disorders, etc.

2. Objectives of the course module

  • To introduce students with the core concepts and propositions of clinical psychology.
  • To consider the place of mental health in the structure of general health.
  • To introduce students with the structure and principles of main classification, diagnostic systems and assessment procedures.
  • To consider biological, psychological and social aspects of the etiology of the mental disorders.
  • To introduce students with the leading psychotherapeutic directions and trends dealing with the mental disorders.
  • To develop students’ deeper understanding of the symptoms, syndromes, clinical course and intervention methods of some prevailing mental disorders.

3. Assessment
Since this is a distance-learning course, assessment will be based only on students’ written work.

  • Weekly written essays – 60%
  • Final essay - 40%

4. Course module program

Class 1 The Main Concepts and History of Clinical Psychology
- The main propositions of clinical psychology.
- Clinical psychology and related disciplines.
- The biopsychosocial perspective in clinical psychology.
- History and structure of clinical psychology.


  • Hersen, M. (Editor), Gross, A. M. 2008 Handbook of Clinical Psychology, Volume 1, Adults.
  • WOLMAN, B.B. (Editor) 1965 Handbook of Clinical Psychology, New-York, McGraw-Hill. Comprehensive survey on clinical psychology by some threescore distinguished contributors.
  • Routh, D. K. 1994 Clinical psychology since 1917. New York: Plenum Press.
  • Walker, C. E. (Editor) 1991 Clinical psychology: Historical and research foundations. New York: Plenum.
  • Snyder, C. R., Forsyth, D. R. (Eds.) 1991 Handbook of social and clinical psychology — The health perspective. New York: Pergamon Press.
  • Jay C.Thomas, Michel Hersen 2010, Handbook of clinical psychology competencies.

Assignment 1:
Please, answer the following questions (up to 5 pages):

  • What is the nowadays location of clinical psychology in the structure of other disciplines? What are the main connections with other disciplines?
  • What are the major advantages of biopsychosocial approach?
  • Which are the significant moments of the history of clinical psychology?
  • Describe the differential meanings of the key concepts, such as general and mental health, mental illness, mental disorder.

Class 2 Clinical Assessment, Classification and Diagnosis
- Clinical assessment and testing procedures.
- The major types of assessment techniques.
- The goals and structures of classifications.
- DSM - the major system of mental disorders’ classification.
- The key concepts related to the classification system.
- Clinical interview and behavioral observations.


  • Drummond R.T., Jones. K.D. 2010 Assessment procedures for counselors and helping professionals. Pearson.
  • Neukrug E.S ., Fawcett R.C. 2006 Essentials of Testing and Assessment. Thomson Brooks/Cole.
  • Butcher, J. N. & Rouse, S. V. 1996 Personality: individual differences and clinical assessment. Annual Review of Psychology, 47, 87-111.
  • Robins, L. N., Barrett, J. E. (Eds.) 1989 The validity of psychiatric diagnosis. New York: Plenum.
  • 1994 American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual for mental disorders — DSM-IV (4th ed.). Washington: American Psychiatric Association.
  • http://www.who.int/classifications/icd/en/

Assignment 2:
Please, answer the following questions (up to 5 pages):

  • Which are the peculiarities of clinical assessment?
  • What is classification system? How is it normally constructed?
  • What are the major peculiarities of DSM classification?
  • Which are the weighty arguments against the diagnostic systems? How the practitioners “cope” with those problems?
  • How does the clinical interview differ from other types of assessment?

Class 3 Etiology of Mental Disorders
- The problem of etiology in clinical psychology.
- Biological and psychosocial influences on mental health and mental illness.
- Sociological perspectives.
- Multi-causal model or biopsychosocial approach. 


  • Ricks, D. F., Dohrenwend, B. S. (Eds.). 1983. Origins of psychopathology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Andreassi, J. L. 1995 Psychophysiology: Human behavior and physiological responses (3rd edition). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Bowlby, J. 1969 Attachment and loss. Vol. I. Attachment. New York: Basic Books. (dt.: Bindung. Eine Analyse der Mutter-Kind-Beziehung. Frankfurt a. M.: Fischer, 1984.).
  • Hamilton, M. (Ed.) 1967 Abnormal psychology. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.
  • Rutter, M. 1995 Clinical implications of attachment. Concepts: Retrospect and prospect. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 36, 549-571.
  • Bernard, L. C. 1994 Health psychology: Biopsychological factors in health and illness. New York: Hardcourt Brace.
  • Nicassio, P. M., Smith, T. W. 1995 Managing chronic illness: A biopsychosocial perspective. Washington, DC: APA.
  • Snyder, C. R., Forsyth, D. R. (Eds.) 1991 Handbook of social and clinical psychology — The health perspective. New York: Pergamon Press.

Assignment 3:
Please, answer the following questions (up to 5 pages):

  • What is the multi-causal model of etiology and why is it considered as the most reliable?
  • To what extent the genetic factors can explain the etiology of mental disorders?
  • Which are the main psycho-physiological aspects of etiology?
  • How does the socialization process influence on the formation of mental disorders?
  • Describe the social-psychological aspects of etiology.

Class 4 Intervention: the General Overview
- Two major types of clinical-psychological intervention.
- The structure, goals, denominators of psychotherapeutic intervention.
- Professional setting and initial consultation.
- The psychological means and therapeutic impacts in the psychotherapy.
- The modes of psychotherapy.
- Nonpsychotherapeutic intervention.


  • Bergin A. E., Garfield S. L. (Eds.) 1994 Handbook of psychotherapy and behavior change, New York: Wiley.
  • Woolfe, R. & Dryden, W. (Eds.) 1996 Handbook of counselling psychology. London: Sage.
  • Freedheim D. K. (Ed.) 1992 History of psychotherapy, Washington: American Psychological Association.
  • Schofield, P. T. 1964 Psychotherapy: The purchase of friendship. New York: Prentice Hall.
  • Claghorn J. L. (Ed.) 1976 Successful psychotherapy, New York: Brunner/Mazel.

Assignment 4:
Please, answer the following questions (up to 5 pages):

  • How does psychotherapy differ from other types of clinical intervention?
  • Which are the common therapeutic impacts regardless of the specific type of psychotherapy?
  • What are the differences between psychotherapy and counseling?
  • Which are the advantages of individual psychotherapy over group psychotherapy and vice versa?

Class 5 Special Psychopathology: Schizophrenia
- Classification and main symptoms of schizophrenia.
- Etiology and epidemiology.
- Several types of intervention.


  • Andreasen, N. C., Arndt, S., Alliger, R., Miller, D., Flaum, M. 1995 Symptoms of schizophrenia: Methods, meanings, and mechanisms. Archives of General Psychiatry, 52, 341-351.
  • Clark, L. A., Watson, D., Reynolds, S. 1995 Diagnosis and classification of psychopathology: Challenges to the current system and future directions. Annual Review of Psychology, 46, 121-153.
  • McGlashan, T. H., Fenton, W. S. 1991 Classical subtypes for schizophrenia: Literature review for DSM-IV. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 17, 609-632.
  • Gottesman, I. I. 1991 Schizophrenia genesis: The origins of madness. New York: Freeman.
  • Straube, E. R., Oades, R. D. 1992 Schizophrenia. Empirical research and findings. San Diego: Academic Press.
  • Straube E. R., Hahlweg K. (Eds.), 1990 Schizophrenia: Concepts, vulnerability, and intervention. Heidelberg: Springer.

Assignment 5:
Please, answer the following questions (up to 5 pages):

  • Which are the subtypes of schizophrenia? What clinical course do they have?
  • What are negative and positive symptoms? Why are they named so?
  • Which are the etiological factors of schizophrenia?
  • Which type(s) of intervention can be considered as the most effective?

Class 6 Special Psychopathology: Depressive Disorders
- Classification and main symptoms of depression.
- Etiology and epidemiology.
- Several types of intervention.


  • Costello, C. G. (Ed.). 1993 Symptoms of depression. New York: Wiley.
  • Paykel E. S. (Ed.) 1992 Handbook of affective disorders. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.
  • Beckham E. E., Leber W. R. (Eds.) 1995 Handbook of depression. New York: Guilford.
  • Beck, A. T. 1970 Depression. Causes and treatment. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • Gotlib, I. H., Hammen, C. L. 1992 Psychological aspects of depression. Toward a cognitive-interpersonal integration. Chichester: Wiley.
  • Montgomery S. A., Rouillon F. (Eds) 1992 Long-term treatment of depression. Chichester: Wiley.
  • Gotlib, I. H., Colby, C. A. 1987 Treatment of depression. An interpersonal systems approach. New York: Pergamon.

Assignment 6:
Please, answer the following questions (up to 5 pages):

  • Which are the main symptoms of depression?
  • What are the differences of the clinical courses of uni- and bipolar depression?
  • Which are the etiological factors of depression?
  • Why the cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy is considered as the most effective for depression treatment?

Class 7 Special Psychopathology: Anxiety Disorders
- Classification and main manifestations of anxiety disorders.
- Etiology and epidemiology.
- Several types of intervention.


  • Barlow, D. H. 1988 Anxiety and it's disorders. New York: Guilford.
  • Beck, A. T., Emery, G. 1985 Anxiety disorders and phobias: A cognitive perspective. New York: Basic Books.
  • Rapee R. M., Barlow D. H. (Eds.) 1991 Chronic anxiety: Generalized anxiety disorder and mixed anxiety depression. New York: Guilford.
  • Hoehn-Saric, R., Hazlett, L., McLeod, D. R. 1994 Generalized anxiety disorder with early and late onset of symptoms. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 34, 291-294.

Assignment 7:
Please, answer the following questions (up to 5 pages):

  • Which are the subtypes of anxiety disorders? What clinical course do they have?
  • Describe the nature of normal and pathological worry/anxiety.
  • Which are the etiological factors of anxiety disorders?
  • Which type(s) of intervention can be considered as the most effective?

Class 8 Closing exam
Based on your interest, choose any topic discussed whithin this course module and write an analytic essay (13-15 pages).

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