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Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

PSYC 2161: Abnormal Psychology

Students explore the study of human psychopathology. Topics include the historical and contemporary practice of psychological research, assessment, classification, diagnosis, and treatment of psychological disorders, as well as a focus on mental wellness and resiliency. Students examine a wide variety of psychological disorders from psychological, biological, psychosocial, and intercultural perspectives and consider evidence-based approaches to clinical practice.

Learning outcomes

  • Identify major theories and approaches to understanding psychopathology.
  • Discuss approaches to research, assessment, classification, and diagnosis.
  • Describe ethical issues in psychological research and practice relating to psychopathology as outlined by the Canadian Psychological Association and the relevant legal sociolegal context for people in Canada.
  • Demonstrate knowledge about the different mental health treatment approaches.
  • Articulate symptoms and features of major mental disorders and their proposed etiology.
  • Explain the importance of culture and diversity from the perspective of Indigenous and other cultural and societal groups in shaping people’s psychological wellbeing.
  • Describe the importance of evidence-based practice in applied psychology.
  • Outline how the biopsychosocial model affects diagnosis, assessment, and treatment in applied psychology.
  • Describe the value of approaches to mental health that emphasize positive psychology, prevention, and resiliency.

Course topics

  • Unit 1: Overview of the Field of Abnormal Psychology — History, Theory, Assessment, and Research
  • Unit 2: Anxiety and Mood
  • Unit 3: Disorders Related to Use of Substances and Eating Behaviour
  • Unit 4: Somatic Disorders, Dissociation, Psychosis, and Personality
  • Unit 5a: Stress and Sexuality
  • Unit 5b: Mental Health and Human Development
  • Unit 6: Intervention, Ethics, and Legal Issues

Required text and materials

Students require the following e-textbook, which can be purchased directly from the TRU bookstore website.

  1. Flett, G. L., Kocovski, N. L., Davison, G. C., & Neale, J. M. (2020). Abnormal psychology (6th Canadian ed.) John Wiley & Sons Canada.
    Type: E-text with WileyPlus access code. ISBN: 9781119723486

Students also will need to source ONE the following on their own:

  1. Fadiman, A. (2012). The spirit catches you and you fall down: A Hmong child, her American doctors, and the collision of two cultures. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
    Type: Text. ISBN-13: 9780374533403


  1. Katz, D. (2017). Indigenous healing psychology: Honoring the wisdom of the First Peoples. Healing Arts Press.
    Type: Text. ISBN-13: 9781620552674

Optional materials

The following e-textbook is recommended:

  1. Wood, A. M., & Johnson, J. (Eds.). (2016). The Wiley handbook of positive clinical psychology. John Wiley & Sons.
    Type: E-text. ISBN: 9781118468227


Please be aware that should your course have a final exam, you are responsible for the fee to the online proctoring service, ProctorU, or to the in-person approved Testing Centre. Please contact with any questions about this.

To successfully complete this course, students must achieve a passing grade of 50% or higher on the overall course, and 50% or higher on the final mandatory exam.

Quizzes: Part A (Units 1–3) 7.5%
Assignment 1: Reflective Journal A 7.5%
Assignment 2: Reflective Journal B 7.5%
Quizzes: Part B (Units 4–6) 7.5%
Assignment 3: Case Study Report 30%
Mandatory Final Exam 40%
TOTAL 100%

Open Learning Faculty Member Information

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Students will receive the necessary contact information at the start of the course.

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