terri l. weaver, ph.d. :: exploring the impact of violence on the lives of women and their children

:: Psychopathology


Instructor:  Terri L. Weaver, Ph.D.
Office:  226 Shannon Hall; weavert@slu.edu
Office Phone:  977-2198
Office Hours:  to be announced
Class Meetings: 

Monday: 1:10 pm - 3:40 pm

219 Shannon Hall

Course Description:


This course contributes to the core knowledge necessary for the science and practice of clinical psychology.  The goal of this course is to present a conceptual framework for understanding the science of psychopathology in order to inform research and practice.   Toward this end, the course will focus on etiological issues, the application of a biopsychosocial conceptual framework to case conceptualization, and to a lesser degree, phenomenological issues.  Issues related to socioeconomic status, gender, age, culture and comorbidity will be addressed across the course.  This course will utilize a seminar format with students actively leading and participating in group discussions that focus on synthesizing and expanding on the material within the readings.  This course will not be a survey course, but rather will focus on helping students to gain an in-depth understanding of psychopathology, generally, and identified disorders, specifically.  Student participation is expected to be active and contributory.  In addition to this syllabus, I have attached the specific competencies for this course and the accompanying course evaluation. 




Required Text:

Hersen, M., & Beidel, D. C.  (Eds.). (2012).  Adult psychopathology and diagnosis (sixth edition).  Hoboken, New Jersey:  John Wiley & Sons.


We will also frequently refer to the DSM-5 working groups that can be found at http://www.dsm5.org/Pages/Default.aspx.  Final criteria are due to APA by December 31, 2012 with an anticipated release of DSM-5 at the annual APA convention in May, 2013.


Optional Text:

Zuckerman, M. (1999). Vulnerability to psychopathology: A biosocial model. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Course Requirements:

It is expected that students attend classes, complete all of the readings prior to class, and participate and on assigned days, lead seminar discussions.  A 12-15 page (double-spaced paper) is also required.   There will also be an out-of-class midterm and final examination.



  • Paper: 220 points
  • Midterm: 150 points
  • Participation: 25 points
  • Presentation Leadership: 50 points
  • Final Examination: 200 points

Grading Scale:

A: 93%- 100% A-: 90%-92%
B+:  87%-89% B:  83%-86%
B-: 80%-82% C: 70-79%
F: 69% or lower

Academic Integrity and Honesty

Students are expected to be honest in their academic work. The University reserves the right to penalize any student whose academic conduct at any time is, in its judgment, detrimental to the University. Such Conduct shall include cases of plagiarism, collusion, cheating, giving or receiving or offering or soliciting information in examinations, or the use of previously prepared material in examinations or quizzes. Violations should be reported to your course instructor, who will investigate and adjudicate them according to the Policy on Academic Honesty of the College of Arts and Sciences. If the charges are found to be true, the student may be liable for academic or disciplinary probation, suspension, or expulsion by the University.

Students with Special Needs - Disability Services


In recognition that people learn in a variety of ways and that learning is influenced by multiple factors (e.g., prior experience, study skills, learning disability), resources to support student success are available on campus. Students who think they might benefit from these resources can find out more about:

  • Course-level support (e.g., faculty member, departmental resources, etc.) by asking your course instructor.
  • University-level support (e.g., tutoring/writing services, Disability Services) by visiting the Student Success Center (BSC 331) or by going to www.slu.edu/success.

Students who believe that, due to a disability, they could benefit from academic accommodations are encouraged to contact Disability Services at 314-977-8885 or visit the Student Success Center. Confidentiality will be observed in all inquiries.

Course instructors support student accommodation requests when an approved letter from Disability Services has been received and when students discuss these accommodations with the instructor after receipt of the approved letter.


Description of the Paper:


This semester we will be examining a number of different issues that relate to the etiology and expression of different forms of psychopathology.  One process that we will discuss in detail is mediation and moderation (See Class 3 and Holmbeck, 1997).  For your paper, I would like you to choose one of five different forms of psychopathology that is of particular interest to you (Major Depression, Panic Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Substance Dependence or Abuse Disorders, or (one type of)  Personality Disorder.  I have identified these possible disorders based on available research.  Your paper will focus on issues related to the etiology of the disorder and factors that influence the disorder's expression.  (a)  First provide a brief overview of your chosen disorder, including epidemiological data, overview of symptoms, and overarching etiological perspectives (20 points) (b)  Please review the current research on at least four intervening factors (e.g., two mediators and two moderators of your disorder or three mediators and one moderator or 1 mediator and 3 moderators, etc.) that influence the expression or maintenance of the disorder or symptoms of the disorder.  Please use empirical research for these factors rather than 'review' articles.  These factors should intervene between a predictor and your chosen disorder (or symptoms of your chosen disorder) as the outcome.  Within your description of each study briefly include the nature of the study and how the effect was shown (100 points). (c) Finally, provide an integration of how factors identified in (b) advance our understanding of this form of psychopathology.  Be specific as you elaborate on these points and link your discussion to broad issues that we have discussed in this course using at least 4 articles from class within this semester (90 points).   Please complete this paper using 12-15 double-spaced pages (do not exceed 15 pages) using 12 point font size and standard margins.  Your paper should be written as a formal paper using the standards of the American Psychological Association (sixth edition, include abstract, running head, etc) (10 points for adhering to standards)Please include the empirical studies in which you identify the mediators/moderators and related factors with your final paper.  In order to organize your paper, you may wish to use subheadings.  Deadlines for components of the paper are identified in the syllabus.  Papers are due November 26, 2012.




Description of the Participation and Leadership Presentations:


Competency in effective communication with other professionals and with translating research findings is important for clinical psychology.  In order to achieve this competency, students are expected to be participatory, engaging and to shape transformative class discussions each class period.  Eight of our classes will have student leaders for a portion of the class period.  These leaders will take responsibility for one of the class readings and will focus on leading the presentation of the reading material, raising provocative and integrative questions, and stimulating class discussion for the entire class period (not just for their identified article).  The student leadership discussion will take place during 60 minutes of the class period.  Student leaders are encouraged to be creative.  Student leaders will receive a maximum of 50 points for their leadership presentation.  (Given my areas of expertise, I ask that you do not select the course material on family violence or PTSD. Ideally, I would also like there to be only one leadership presentation for each class period).  More details on grading student leadership will follow.


Students will also receive a maximum of 25 points for seminar participation throughout the semester.  Participation can take many forms including amplifying points in the readings, asking questions, volunteering to get additional material based on classroom discussion, etc.   





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