Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Adult Psychopathology, Trauma-Related Issues and Psychopharmacology

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course



DESCRIPTION The study-unit builds on the knowledge in psychopathology which trainees gained at undergraduate level. It focuses on the signs and symptoms of the major mental disorders with particular emphasis on their meaning and the contexts in which they occur. An in-depth examination of each disorder, from both psychiatric and psychogenic perspectives will be held.

This course will also focus on teaching the students the foundational concepts of trauma-related issues, including the various theoretical paradigms, techniques and strategies.

We will explore the appropriate research findings and develop an understanding of their application in the field of PTSD. This course aims to provide a sound understanding of the principles underlying basic concepts in psychopharmacology

This course also gives the basis of the therapeutic action of drugs in the various phases of drug action, from the molecular level to general pharmacological activity. It will also consider the mode of action of specific drug classes used in mental disorders affecting behaviour.


The main objective of the course is to generate understanding of the various signs and symptoms of psychic and behavioural problems in the context of different clinical syndromes with an aim towards accurate evaluation and diagnosis.It also aims to present a basic overview of the foundational concepts of PTSD and to expose the students to the different modalities of treatment, including practical “how to” guidelines. It also aims to address the clinician’s psychological risks in working with PTSD traumatized clients

This course will also give the students a basic understanding of the therapeutic action of drugs, from the molecular level to general pharmacological activity, and consider specific drug classes used in mental disorders affecting behaviour.


Knowledge and Understanding

- At the end of the course the student will be able to understand the signs and symptoms of psychological and behavioural problems in the context of different clinical syndromes.
- Understand the different modalities of treatment of PTSD arising from the underlying foundational concepts.
- Understand the specific drug classes and drugs used in the treatment of mental disorders as well as the therapeutic action of drugs in the various phases of drug action.


- By the end of the study-unit the student will possess beginning skills in evaluating and diagnosing psychiatric disorders and will be able to apply different treatment methods to trauma-related issues.



The students will be asked to become aware of their own personal approach to mental illness and to think about their own biases and attitudes which may hinder the helping process. Students will be encouraged to adopt a phenomenological approach to conceptualization. A de-pathologizing use of language, where the focus is on the individual rather than the diagnostic label, will be encouraged.


Adult Psychopathology

- Introduction
- The Mental State Examination
- Disturbed consciousness related to attention, concentration, orientation, memory and time-keeping in intellectual performance.
- Abnormality of Perception
- Abnormality of the thinking process: Disorders of speech.
- Abnormality of experience of self and the awareness of body.
- Abnormality of affect, anxiety, irritability, phobia and obsession.
- Personality Disorders I
- Personality Disorders II
- Psychosis
- Affective Disorders
- Anxiety Disorders
- Suicide and Deliberate self-harm
- Eating Disorders
- Sexual Disorders

Trauma-Related Issues

- Post-traumatic stress disorder: an overview of the concept
- Types of trauma : From natural disaster to political violence; Epidemiological findings;
- Post- traumatic stress disorder in children and adolescents
- Theoretical paradigms and perspectives
- Overview of treatment procedures and general treatment guidelines
- Specific treatment procedures for adults with PTSD and related problems. Part 1and part 2
- Counter transference, empathy & vicarious Traumatisation cycle
- Vicarious traumatisation and the therapist’s professional development.
- Addressing Vicarious traumatisation
- Post-Disaster Interventions
- Some Closing thoughts: ethno-cultural aspects of PTSD


- Introduction- definitions and general overview, prescription writing and legal requirements;
- Drug actions and different drug formulations;
- Clinical pharmacokinetics and therapeutic drug monitoring;
- Adverse Effects and drug interactions
- Hypnotics and anxiolytics ;
- Drugs used in the treatment of psychosis and related disorders;
- Anti-depressant drugs – TCAs, MAOIs, SSRIs, SNRIs;
- CNS stimulants – amphetamines, drugs used in ADHD and obesity;
- Analgesic drugs: NSAIDS, non-opioid, opioid, antimigraine, neuropathic pain;
- Anti-epileptic drugs; drugs used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and Dementia;
- Drug dependence and abuse including drugs used in detoxification;
- Drugs in special populations: elderly, children, pregnancy.


Adult Psychopathology

- Oyebode, R. (2008). Sims’ symptoms in the mind: An introduction to descriptive psychopathology. Saunders Elsevier.

Trauma-Related Issues

- Wilson, J.P., Friedman, M.J., & Lindy, J.D. (Eds) (2001). Treating psychological trauma and PTSD. New York: Guildford.
- Meichenbaum, D. (1994). Treating post-traumatic stress disorder: a handbook and practice manual for therapy. New York: Wiley.


- Rang, H.P., Dale, M.M., Ritter, J.M., .and Flower, R., (2007). Rang and Dale’s Pharmacology. Oxford: Churchill Livingstone..
- Iversen, L.L., Iversen, S.D., Bloom, F.E., Roth, R.H. (2009). Introduction to neuropsychopharmacology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Adult Psychopathology

- Alloy, L. B., Riskind, J.H., Manos, M.J., (2005). Abnormal psychology – current perspectives. New YorkMcGraw- Hill.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (text revision). Washington, DC: Author.
- Bentall, R.P., (2003). Madness explained. Psychosis and human nature. Penguin.
- Davison, G.C., Neale, J.M., Kring, M,A. (2001) Abnormal psychology. New York: Wiley.
- Gelder, M., Mayou, R., Cowen, P. (2001). The shorter oxford textbook of psychiatry. Oxford Press.
- Kendall, R.E. & Zealley, A. K. (1996) 5th ed. companion to psychiatric studies. London: Churchill Livingstone.
- Spitzer, R.L., Gibbon, M.., Skodol, A.E., Williams, J. B.W., First, M.B. (1994) DSM IV case book – A learning companion to the DSM. Washington:APA.
- WHO (1992). The ICD-10 Classification of mental and behavioural disorders – clinical descriptions and diagnostic guidelines. Geneva.

Trauma-related Issues

- Joseph, S.; Williams, R., & Yule, W. (1997). Understanding post-traumatic stress: a psychosocial perspective on PTSD and treatment. New York: Wiley.
- Marsella, A.J., Friedman, M.J., Gerrity, E.T., & Scurfield, R.M. (1996). (Eds).Ethnocultural aspects of post-traumatic stress disorder: issues, research and clinical applications. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association..
- Meichenbaum, D. (1994). Treating post-traumatic stress disorder: a handbook and practice manual for therapy. New York: Wiley..
- Yule, W. (1999). (Ed). Post-traumatic stress disorders: Concepts and therapy. New York: Wiley. .
- Bass, E., & Davis, L. (1988). The courage to heal: a guide for women survivors of child sexual abuse. London: Vermillion.


- Bennett, P.N., Brown, M.J. (2009). Clinical pharmacology. 10th ed. Oxford: Churchill Livingstone.
- BNF. (2010). British national formulary. London: Pharmaceutical Press.
- Neal, M.J., (2009). Medical pharmacology at a glance. New York: Wiley-Blackwell.
- Nestler E.J., Hyman S.E., Malenka R.C. (2009). Molecular Neuropharmacology – A Foundation for Clinical Science. New York: Mc-Graw-Hill.
- Stahl S.M. (2008). Essential Psychopharmacology –Neuroscientific Basis and Practical Applications. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment Yes 25%
Examination Yes 25%
Examination Yes 50%


The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2018/9, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.