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Applied Developmental Psychopathology



[Bsc], GPH, Psy

Admission requirements

  • Classes of 2013-2016: successful completion of a Psychology (Psy) course.

Please note this course is only available to students of the Leiden University College The Hague.### Course description

Mental health problems in children and adolescents are common and are associated with substantial economic and societal costs. Children and adolescents have to deal with an increasingly complex and fast-moving world and safeguarding their healthy development, mentally as well as physically, would therefore seem an important aim of (global) public health policy. Yet, some mental health problems in youth are said to be on the rise (e.g., ADHD), leading to questions about societal, cultural, and global factors that impact upon youth mental health.

This course will focus on a range of psychological problems during childhood and adolescence using the developmental psychopathology perspective as a theoretical framework. The framework provides a broad and developmentally orientated approach to understanding emotional and behavioural problems during the life span. It emphasises the relationship between normality and pathology, the complex interplay of multiple risk and protective factors, and developmental pathways including continuity and change. Second, during the course we will critically analyse contemporary youth mental health issues and their potential implications for society and public health.

The lectures will provide an introduction to the major mental health problems in youth, internalizing (anxiety and depression), externalizing (ADHD and conduct problems), and neurobiological (autism, schizophrenia) disorders, from the developmental psychopathology perspective. Attention will be given to prevention and treatment of these disorders. Students will learn about the world’s leading mental health classification systems, the International Classification of Diseases (ICD: World Health Organization) and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM; American Psychiatric Association), and the implications of these systems for youth mental health.

Weekly overview

Week 1: Introduction to developmental psychopathology and youth mental health
Week 2: Internalizing disorders I (Anxiety Disorders)
Week 3: Internalizing disorders II (Depression)
Week 4: Externalizing disorders (ADHD and conduct problems)
Week 5: Neurobiological disorders (Autism and Schizophrenia)
Week 6: Prevention and Treatment
Week 7: Are youth mental health problems a global challenge?

Learning objectives

Students will have an understanding of:

  • The theoretical developmental psychopathology approach to psychological disorders in youth.

  • The mental health problems and disorders in youth that are covered during the course.

  • The two major mental health classification systems (ICD and DSM).

  • The main treatment approaches to youth mental health disorders.
    Students will be able to:

  • Apply the developmental psychopathology perspective to new cases.

  • Critically analyse contemporary youth mental health issues using empirical research.

Mode of instruction

This course consists of two x two hour weekly sessions which will be delivered through a combination of lectures, class discussion, group presentations and debates. In weeks 1 to 6 the first weekly session will comprise a lecture on a particular topic and the second weekly session will comprise an interactive workgroup. The second weekly sessions (weeks 1 to 6) will be dedicated to class discussion of that week’s topic, the weekly assignments, and possible questions related to the preceding lectures. Week 7 will consist of two student-led sessions during which students will present and debate (in small groups) a number of contemporary issues related to youth mental health.


Assessment 1: In-class preparation and participation
Weight: 10%, deadline: weeks 1-6
Learning aim: Interactive engagement with course material and individual input to weekly theme

Assessment 2: Four written assignments
Weight: 30%, deadline: weeks 2,3,4,6 (4 in total)
Learning aim: Individual engagement with and analysis of course readings and material

Assessment 3: Presentation or debate in small groups
Weight: 20%, deadline: week 7
Learning aim: Critical analysis of a contemporary youth mental health issue

Assessment 4: Exam/final assignment
Weight: 40%, deadline: week 8
Learning aim: Understanding of course content

Compulsory literature

Compulsory textbook:
Wicks-Nelson, R., & Israel, A. C. (2013). Abnormal child and adolescent psychology (8th Ed.). Amsterdam: Pearson.

Compulsory chapter from a textbook:
Vasey, M. W., & Dadds, M. R. (2001). An introduction to the developmental psychopathology of anxiety. In M. W. Vasey & M. R. Dadds (Eds.), The developmental psychopathology of anxiety (pp. 3-26). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Recommended book:
Watters, E. (2010). Crazy Like Us: The globalization of the American Psyche. Free Press.

A full reading list will be included in the course syllabus.

Preparation for first session

Before the first meeting students must read the following:
Chapters 1, 2, and 3 of the Wicks-Nelson & Israel textbook (see Reading list).