Course Description

Psychology for Scuba Divers | Behaviour and Emotion in Diving


We spend a lot of time and effort getting to know the equipment we use in scuba diving.  

What about that one complex and irreplaceable piece of kit? YOU! 

This is a course full of theory and references to psychological sciences, with summaries of research in dive psychology. Psych. 101 for divers! You will learn about psychology and how to apply this understanding to your diving and dive training.


PLEASE NOTE:  PADI Psychological Diver is a Distinctive Specialty course, approved by PADI.  Psychology for Scuba Divers is the elearning for PADI Psychological Diver is created and owned by the specialty author, and is NOT a PADI elearning product.  

PADI IDC Staff Instructor & Clinical Psychologist

Dr Laura Walton

A qualified Clinical Psychologist, registered with the HCPC and the British Psychological Society, I have ten years experience of delivering psychological approaches, within the NHS, to support people in significant distress. I have specialist experience of working with people with extreme dysregulation of emotion and psychosis.As a PADI Professional, I volunteer as part of a co-operative to manage an active dive club and school in Scotland. Since July 2015 I have been responsible for organising the centre's training schedule to ensure our delivery PADI courses all year round. Currently a PADI IDC Staff Instructor, I have experience of teaching and guiding in cold water, low-visibility conditions.

Course curriculum

  • 1

    Course Orientation

  • 2

    1 | Introduction

    • > NOTES (reading): Introduction

    • > NOTES (audio): Introduction

    • < OPTIONAL REFLECTIVE WORKSHEET: Think about your Psychology

    • | LESSON 1.0 | Different ways of thinking

    • | LESSON 2.1 | What is a psychological model?

    • | LESSON 2.2 | Psychological Models

    • | LESSON 3.0 | Where have you seen psychology in scuba diving?

    • | LESSON 4.1 | Why we do what we do

    • | LESSON 4.2 | A five area model

    • | LESSON 5.1 | Thinking about mindset for learning

    • | LESSON 5.2 | Helpful mindset

    • * QUIZ * Psychological Models

    • / Quick Feedback /

  • 3

    2 | Innerworld in Water I

    • - Innerworld in Water I -

      FREE PREVIEW
    • > NOTES (reading): Innerworld in Water I

    • > NOTES (audio): Innerworld in Water I

    • < OPTIONAL REFLECTIVE WORKSHEET: Think about your Innerworld in Water I

    • | LESSON 1.1 | Inner states

    • | LESSON 1.2 | Our inner states

    • | LESSON 2.1 | Systems for affect regulation

    • | LESSON 2.2 | Three systems: "safety", "connection" & "drive"

    • | LESSON 2.3 | The "safety" system

    • | LESSON 2.4 | The "connection" system

    • | LESSON 2.5 | The "drive" system

    • | LESSON 3.1 | What is panic?

    • | LESSON 3.2 | The fight or flight response

    • | LESSON 4.0 | Panic in scuba diving

    • | LESSON 5.1 | Can we control our internal states?

    • | LESSON 5.2 | Breathing for scuba divers

    • | LESSON 5.3 | Anatomy of breathing

    • | LESSON 5.4 | Breath control

    • | LESSON 5.5 | Practicing deep, slow breathing

    • * QUIZ * Innerworld in Water I

    • / Quick Feedback /

  • 4

    3 | Innerworld in Water II

    • - Innerworld in Water II -

      FREE PREVIEW
    • > NOTES (reading): Innerworld in Water II

    • > NOTES (audio): Innerworld in Water II

    • < OPTIONAL REFLECTIVE WORKSHEET: Think about your Innerworld in Water II

    • | LESSON 1.1 | Think about thinking

    • | LESSON 1.2 | Looking at thoughts I

    • | LESSON 2.1 | Making sense of the world around us

    • | LESSON 2.2 | "Bottom-up" and "Top-down"

    • | LESSON 2.3 | Filling in the gaps

    • | LESSON 2.4 | The "blind-spot" experiment

    • | LESSON 3.1 | Are you paying attention?

    • | LESSON 3.2 | Attention is like the beam of a dive torch / flashlight

    • | LESSON 3.3 | Moving your attention

    • | LESSON 4.0 | When perception goes wrong!

    • | LESSON 5.0 | Our senses and perception underwater

    • * QUIZ * Innerworld in Water II

    • / Quick Feedback /

  • 5

    4 | Abilities under Pressure

    • - Abilities Under Pressure -

      FREE PREVIEW
    • > NOTES (reading): Abilities under pressure

    • > NOTES (audio): Abilities under Pressure

    • < OPTIONAL REFLECTIVE WORKSHEET: Think about your Abilities under Pressure

    • | LESSON 1.1 | Get to know your brain a little

    • | LESSON 1.2 | Six things worth knowing about your brain

    • | LESSON 2.1 | What is a "neuropsychological" process?

    • | LESSON 2.2 | A neuropsychological process: memory

    • | LESSON 2.3 | How do our abilities change underwater?

    • | LESSON 3.1 | Information overload

    • | LESSON 3.2 | Task loading

    • | LESSON 4.1 | What is happening now and next?

    • | LESSON 4.2 | Situational awareness

    • | LESSON 5.0 | Recommended diving practices

    • * QUIZ * Abilities under pressure

    • / Quick Feedback /

  • 6

    5 | Deeper Darker Further

    • - Deeper Darker Further -

      FREE PREVIEW
    • > NOTES (reading): Deeper Darker Further

    • > NOTES (audio): Deeper Darker Further

    • < OPTIONAL REFLECTIVE WORKSHEET: Think about your Deeper Darker Further

    • | LESSON 1.1 | Why dive?

    • | LESSON 1.2 | Motivation & reward (OPTIONAL)

    • | LESSON 2.0 | What motivates divers to go to extremes?

    • | LESSON 3.1 | Explore narcosis

    • | LESSON 3.2 | What is narcosis in diving?

    • | LESSON 3.3 | Experiences of narcosis

    • | LESSON 4.0 | What is stopping you?

    • | LESSON 5.1 | When a dive goes wrong

    • | LESSON 5.2 | Chain of thought

    • | LESSON 5.3 | Interrupt the chain?

    • | LESSON 5.4 | Looking at thoughts II

    • * QUIZ * Deeper Darker Further

    • / Quick Feedback /

  • 7

    6 | Tribes and Identity

    • - Tribes and Identity -

      FREE PREVIEW
    • > NOTES (reading): Tribes and Identity

    • > NOTES (audio): Tribes and Identity

    • < OPTIONAL REFLECTIVE WORKSHEET: Think about your Tribes and Identity

    • | LESSON 1.0 | How do other divers influence what we do?

    • | LESSON 2.0 | Social influences on our diving practices

    • | LESSON 3.1 | Pressures on what we do

    • | LESSON 3.2 | Some shocking experiments

    • | LESSON 3.3 | Internal tension

    • | LESSON 3.4 | Split thinking

    • | LESSON 4.1 | Diving with other people

    • | LESSON 4.2 | Who's your buddy?

    • | LESSON 5.0 | You as a diver

    • * QUIZ * Tribes and Identity

    • / Quick Feedback /

  • 8

    7 | Develop in Diving

    • - Develop in Diving -

      FREE PREVIEW
    • > NOTES (reading): Develop in Diving

    • > NOTES (audio): Develop in Diving

    • < OPTIONAL REFLECTIVE WORKSHEET: Think about your Development in Diving

    • | LESSON 1.1 | Forest paths: A metaphor for learning

    • | LESSON 1.2 | How do we learn?

    • | LESSON 2.1 | We all learn differently

    • | LESSON 2.2 | Cycles and styles

    • | LESSON 2.3 | Preferences in learning

    • | LESSON 3.1 | Going beyond the comfort zone

    • | LESSON 3.2 | How learning is supported by instruction

    • | LESSON 4.1 | Bringing it all together

    • | Lesson 4.2 | Creating effective environments to learn to dive

    • | LESSON 5.1 | What being a diver can do for you and others

    • | LESSON 5.2 | And you?

    • * QUIZ * Develop in Diving

    • / Quick Feedback /

  • 9

    Congratulations

    • A final message from me

    • Before you go

    • The end ... ?

  • 10

    REFERENCE

    • References

Reviews

5 star rating

Valeria Lo Bue

5 star rating

Learn something new about your scuba diver self!

Natalka MacKay

I looked forward to every chapter of this course! So many useful and practical applications for all scuba divers of all levels. You learn so much about why...

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I looked forward to every chapter of this course! So many useful and practical applications for all scuba divers of all levels. You learn so much about why we do what we do, what affects our decisions and why our reactions to certain situations are different when we are underwater. Everyone will learn something new about themselves and have plenty of opportunities for self reflection. Take this course, you won't regret it!!

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5 star rating

Amazing illumination of we do as divers, but this materia...

Harvey Sinclair

Laura's material is new knowledge about our love for diving. She goes into why we do what we do, what drives us, what we can do to better ourselves. This ...

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Laura's material is new knowledge about our love for diving. She goes into why we do what we do, what drives us, what we can do to better ourselves. This not a lesson in the science of psychology, but a field in itself connected to our needs and wants about our beautiful pursuit. I loved this course, and can't wait to experience a new awareness next time I dive, and take on more courses. Laura has coupled her professional knowledge with her passion for scuba creating a great course, in simple jargon. Thank you again H Sinclair London

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5 star rating

Great course for diving and for life

Jennelle Dupuy

I really enjoyed this course. I learned (or re-learned) lots about how our brains work, both above & below the water. I learned about stress, how it af...

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I really enjoyed this course. I learned (or re-learned) lots about how our brains work, both above & below the water. I learned about stress, how it affects our learning, more on the mechanics of how it affects us physically & in our decision making. The course made clearer for me the impact of the social connections we make through diving, and reinforced for me the value of diving in my life and how is has positively impacted me in many ways. I would recommend this as a definite must-do for all those wanting to be Instructors, and even for DMs. Knowledge is power and being aware of all the non-diving influences (psychological) is a really powerful tool. Finally, I think this course will benefit me in other areas of my life, such as in how I learn things in the future. Thanks very much, Laura

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5 star rating

A beautifull course for human feelings, and not only !

Darco Azarmaneche

Thank you Dr. Laura Walton for a very nice introduction into the psychology. We had a lot of videos, testimonials from divers, very good study cases and c...

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Thank you Dr. Laura Walton for a very nice introduction into the psychology. We had a lot of videos, testimonials from divers, very good study cases and comments from you Laura, honestly, because we wrotte a lot ;O) The course is really well described and adapted to the divers, to all levels, not only for the beginners, I mean recomanded for divemasters and instructors who wanted to perform an enjoyable carrier, teaching more. We all noticed after this course, and at least we all said it once in our minds : "why nobody told me about that ?". Because for sure, all our dives could be more easy, more safe, more funny, no matter if on fun dive or teaching students, on the boat, at the dive center. So I am very happy I had the time and opportunity to participate to your course. From now the approach is going to be much efficient, not only to correct myself, but to also realise if a diver is not welcomed in a group, even if I am not part of the group. I mean more care. Kind regards, Darco

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5 star rating

Great course

Nicki Maglione

I've really enjoyed studying this course. It's taken me probably a month to complete the e-learning doing about 3-4 hours of study (about 2 sections) a week....

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I've really enjoyed studying this course. It's taken me probably a month to complete the e-learning doing about 3-4 hours of study (about 2 sections) a week. It's drawn on a lot of concepts I've come across previously in my academic psychology studies but applied them in a new way to diving. It's given me a lot to think about both as a diver and instructor and I hope to take a lot of what I've learnt back to my club to implement in our training and club culture. Thanks Laura! I hope to be able to complete the workshop and get the full qualification soon :)

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5 star rating

Informative and insightful, a really interesting course

Faye Wilde

This is a great way to learn more about what we do as divers and why. The course offers some great insight into our thought processes, actions and reactions....

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This is a great way to learn more about what we do as divers and why. The course offers some great insight into our thought processes, actions and reactions. The application of various psychological theories to our diving world makes this relevant for all levels of diver, so that we may better understand our own behaviour and that of other divers. The course gave me a lot to think about to enhance mine and my buddies' diving experiences, highly recommended.

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5 star rating

well worth the time

Kerry Morgan

Laura's course Psychology for Scuba Divers is great for not only the new diver who is experiencing this amazing world for the first time but also for the exp...

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Laura's course Psychology for Scuba Divers is great for not only the new diver who is experiencing this amazing world for the first time but also for the experienced diver who might have had a stressful situation cause them to re think how they conduct themselves in and out of the water. The course material was very well thought out and presented. Thanks Laura

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5 star rating

I love it!

SEBASTIEN BOUTHILLETTE

I love this course. I wish it was part of the normal offering of all diving agency. It is well put together and if you do the exercises and actually reflect ...

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I love this course. I wish it was part of the normal offering of all diving agency. It is well put together and if you do the exercises and actually reflect on and apply what is in the course, it is very helpful in bringing your diving to the next level!

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5 star rating

Great course

David Liew

I’m a novice to psychology but the course’s structure and content was easy to follow.

I’m a novice to psychology but the course’s structure and content was easy to follow.

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5 star rating

Simply fantastic!

Kevin Coffey

It's hard to summarize all of the incredibly useful parts of this course, so let me just say that it was fascinating and well-executed and has given me a lot...

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It's hard to summarize all of the incredibly useful parts of this course, so let me just say that it was fascinating and well-executed and has given me a lot to think about that will make me a better diver. Can't recommend this course enough!

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5 star rating

It is all in your mind or soul.

Derek Moore

If you have ever wondered why people learn differently to others or act differently to the varying teachings in diving, then this course will explain it all....

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If you have ever wondered why people learn differently to others or act differently to the varying teachings in diving, then this course will explain it all. It opens your mind to a different pathway of thinking and teaching. It won’t make you a better teacher, but it will show you where you may be going wrong and how you can change your mode of thinking and approach to teaching. After all we are all human and different.

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5 star rating

Brilliant...

Rolf Hakenes

An excellent course presenting the important psychological aspects and influencing factors on diving. In my opinion this should be considered much more in d...

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An excellent course presenting the important psychological aspects and influencing factors on diving. In my opinion this should be considered much more in diving training as it is done today, because especially diving tends to produce many situations, which cannot be handled solely by physical abilities. There are a lot of feelings and thoughts involved, especially fear, stress, overload of tasks, but also euphoria, wellness and relief. All in all I think the psychlogical aspects affect much more, whether someone enjoys diving or not. I am very happy I took this course, even if it was, due to the geographical distance to scotland, without any practical experience. So please keep on doing this, Laura!

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5 star rating

Excellent learning resource

Wayne Budgen

I was unprepared for the depth and breadth of work that Laura has put into this course. The educational resources were very good, the online learning platfo...

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I was unprepared for the depth and breadth of work that Laura has put into this course. The educational resources were very good, the online learning platform was conducive to a good learning environment, and the content was very interesting and useful. As an instructor with experience at times it is difficult to find courses that maintain your interest. This is definitely not the case here. I encourage new and experienced divers and instructors to partake of this course as there is a great deal to learn from it.

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5 star rating

Insightful and Rewarding

Emma Pickering

I saw this course advertised on social media, and it immediately got my attention as I enjoy psychology. From the onset, I couldn't tear myself away from t...

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I saw this course advertised on social media, and it immediately got my attention as I enjoy psychology. From the onset, I couldn't tear myself away from the course. I have enjoyed it from start to finish; every video, worksheet and discussion board. I highly recommend

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5 star rating

Fantastic

Katarina Martin

I thought the amount of detail each subject went into was brilliant. Reading other peoples experiences and discussions really helped me in grasping the conce...

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I thought the amount of detail each subject went into was brilliant. Reading other peoples experiences and discussions really helped me in grasping the concept of each topic. A really well thought out course.

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5 star rating

Fascinating Course

Kerrie Eade

I have really enjoyed working through the eLearning - I've spotted how to apply it to my own diving as well as my own teaching and made notes of the salient ...

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I have really enjoyed working through the eLearning - I've spotted how to apply it to my own diving as well as my own teaching and made notes of the salient points - I can't wait for my next course to start applying them now! I'm very much looking forward to the practical session with Laura tomorrow too. The videos were fun to watch, highly informative, a great length to keep you interest and attention, and very well though out.

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5 star rating

Emma Harris

5 star rating

Psychology for Scuba Divers

Rachel Collington

Very informative course that really helps you appreciate how and why people behave as they do in certain situations. Also very interesting to understand how ...

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Very informative course that really helps you appreciate how and why people behave as they do in certain situations. Also very interesting to understand how we learn as individuals and how we feed off each other in groups. Requires concentration over fairly long period, I found, to get the most out of the course. Worth the effort with lots of references for anyone wanting to study this topic further.

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5 star rating

Eye opener

Natasja Zoon

This was such a great course to follow. It gave me a good insight in my own past behavior and will help me in the future. Moreover I think it will be very us...

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This was such a great course to follow. It gave me a good insight in my own past behavior and will help me in the future. Moreover I think it will be very useful once I start to help out instructors with courses and any other activity I will perform in the role of divemaster.

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