To properly understand what clinical psychology is a proper definition helps get a grip on the basics but the felid on clinical psychology is much more complex than just a definition. As a whole, clinical psychology focuses on assessing, treating, and understanding psychological and behavioral disorders with particular interest and efforts directed on the ways human psyche interacts with physical, emotional, and social aspects of health and dysfunction (Plante, 2011). Clinical psychology attempts to use the principles of psychology as a means to better understand,predict, and alleviate several aspects of human functioning, including intellectual, emotional, biological, psychological, social, and behavioral (Plante, 2011).
Like any other scientific field, “clinical psychology uses the scientific method to approach and understand human problems in behavior, emotions, thinking, relationships, and health” (Plante, 2011, p. 6). Clinical psychology has come a long way since it was first founded and continues to develop and evolve into a respected and highly popular subfield of psychology. History and Evolving Nature of Clinical Psychology.
Early conceptions of mental illness date back to ancient Greeks, it was believed that the Gods controlled both health and illness, but the ancient Greeks explored biological, psychological, and social influences of illness (Plante, 2011). Hippocrates, a Greek physician, is among the first to challenge spiritual factors; he believed that disease was primarily a result of imbalances of four bodily fluids; he also believed that the relationship between these bodily fluids also determined temperament and personality (Plante, 2011).
Hippocrates beliefs were highly influential, suggesting that biological, psychological, and social factors all contribute to both physical and emotional illness; his way of thinking helped change the spiritualistic view of 3 EXAMINATION OF CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY PAPER health and illness toward a more naturalistic view (Plante, 2011). Plato, Aristotle, and Galen also held common beliefs, they all viewed the mind and body interwove factors that influence illness. During the middle ages this biopsychosocial perspective temporarily died down, this was a time filled with violence, stress, and a splitting of the Catholic Church, which influenced more spiritual explanations of events during that time.
Spiritual matters such as demons, witches, and sin were commonly believed to be the cause of disease and insanity; therefore treatment or healing was a spiritual rather than a medical issue (Plante, 2011). The Renaissance era, yet again changed views on health, it was considered unscientific to have any interest in the mind and soul instead discoveries in chemistry, physics, biology, and mathematics were taking over; certain discoveries discredited the ancient Greek beliefs of bodily fluid imbalance, completely eliminating these beliefs from medical thinking (Plante, 2011). It was not until the nineteenth century that psychology became of more interest.
According to Plante (2011) “numerous advances in understanding mental and physical illness allowed for a more sophisticated understanding of the relationship between body and mind in both health and illness” (Contemporary clinical psychology, p. 36). The beliefs of this time changed, the mind and body were viewed as connected rather than separate entities; it was during the nineteenth century that many “physicians laid the groundwork for today’s current theories and practices integrating the influences of physical, psychological, and social factors on health and well-being” (Plante, 2011, p. 36).
Major improvements took place, more humane treatments were adopted, hospitals for the mentally ill were established, significant improvements in diagnosis emerged, and mental disorders were clarified as medical issues. Wilhelm Wundt developed the first laboratory of psychology at the University of Leipzig, Germany, in 1879, this marked to birth of psychology as an independent discipline and science separate from, but 4 EXAMINATION OF CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY PAPER related to, philosophy, medicine, and theology (Plante, 2011).
Through the establishment of psychological laboratories, the attention of early psychologist focused on sensation, perception, and understanding the dimensions of the mind through experimentation (Plante, 2011). Another milestone in the field of psychology is marked by the founding of the American Psychological Association (APA) in 1892. The early years of American psychology focused on experimental psychology, with a special interest in developing and using mental tests rather than applied or clinical psychology.
The birth of clinical psychology was marked by Lightner Witmer opening the first psychological clinic at the University of Pennsylvania (Plante, 2011). Although not common at the time, Witmer was the first psychologist to use his psychological understandings and principles of human behavior to assist another individual with an issue (Plante, 2011). In the years following the University of Pennsylvania began offering clinical psychology courses, Morton Price published the first edition of the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, and Witmer began The Psychological Clinic which was the first professional journal dedicated to the field of clinical psychology and thus clinical psychology was born (Plante, 2011).
Many historical events played a significant role in the development of clinical psychology, specifically in the need for clinical psychologist. During World War I the need to classify intellectual and psychological functioning of recruits called for the APA to assist in developing appropriate assessments for military recruits, the assessments developed evaluated approximately two million people by 1918 (Plante, 2011).
This opportunity increased the status and way that psychology and psychological testing was viewed, psychologists were then recognized for their testing skills. World War II also required psychological services in assessing military recruits and unlike the services rendered during World War I, psychologists also provided other clinical services such as psychotherapy 5 EXAMINATION OF CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY PAPER and consultation to war veterans (Plante, 2011). The high demands of psychologists immediately following World War II resulted in a major increase in the number of clinical psychologists.
Since World War II clinical psychology has defined and expanded to accommodate modern issues and demands; clinical psychology aims to address and incorporate the important modern issues of diversity, scientific advances, and changes in professional training and economic factors affecting health care (Plante, 2011). The 1947 APA Committee on training in clinical psychology developed training standards and guidelines for clinical training, still in use today. During the 1950’s, 1960’s, and 1970’s different perspectives resulted in the development of new treatment and intervention approaches, in which psychologists were becoming more well established with psychotherapy skills and testing services (Plante, 2011).
Contemporary clinical psychology utilizes combined resources from a variety of perspectives and interventions and is currently practiced in a wide range of locations including hospitals, clinics, business, private practices, colleges and universities, among other locations. Role of Research and Statistics in Clinical Psychology Contemporary clinical psychology uses integrative evidence-based approaches to understand and address problems in human behavior; like with any other scientific field, clinical psychology uses the scientific method and applies evidence obtained information to helping others (Plante, 2011).
The basic goal of research in the field of clinical psychology is to obtain knowledge about human behavior through testing and to apply that knowledge to help improve the lives of individuals, families, and groups” (Plante, 2011). The information obtained through research is used in understanding, assessing, and treating every aspect of psychological disorders; it provides the basic direction for all clinical psychological professional activities; research both assist in understanding human behavior and in the development of reliable, valid, 6.
EXAMINATION OF CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY PAPER and effective psychological techniques and treatment strategies (Plante, 2011). Therefore the information obtained through conducting research is translated into statistical information use by clinical psychologists to assess and treatment individuals in need. Research and clinical psychology practice are interwoven and equally influential on one another as the information gained through research can be applied to treating individuals, but research has found that certain treatment approaches may be useful for some individuals with a certain issue while different approaches might be most helpful for others (Plante, 2011).
Through the use of the scientific method many clinical psychologists also conduct and publish diverse research studies, and although not all clinical psychologists do so, the information gained through research guides all professional activities as all clinical psychologists are expected to be constant consumers of research therefore they inform professional activities (Plante, 2011). Plante (2011) added that “Research in clinical psychology encompasses biological, psychological, and social aspects of human behavior, from research exploring neuroimaging techniques, to ethnic factors in hypertension, to spiritual aspects of love and intimacy” (Contemporary clinical psychology, p. 10).
To ensure that information obtained from research is reliable and valid, statistics and more importantly statistical recommendations are specified in the application of appropriate methodological techniques (Palmer, & Sese, 2013). “To determine whether research hypotheses are supported, probability and statistical significance have been traditionally used in psychology as well as in most other scientific fields (Plante, 2011, p.96).
The Differences of Clinical Psychology and Other Mental Health Professions In a nut shell psychology is the science of human behavior, therefore mental health service providers, such as doctors, nurses, social workers, and of course psychological professionals should have foundational knowledge of psychological science. The differences 7 EXAMINATION OF CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY PAPER between clinical psychology and other mental health providers are obvious.
A study was conducted to investigate the psychology courses and related training requirements for entry level degrees for nursing, social work, medicine, counseling psychology, and clinical psychology; the results suggest that that clinical psychology graduates take more courses in psychology and related training than any other group, followed by counseling psychology (Murdoch, Gregory, & Eggleton, 2015). Therefore the differences are marked from educational courses, path, and trainning; becoming a clinical psychologist requires extensive training which includes experimental research and clinical training in psychological testing and psychotherapy (Plante, 2011).
A master’s degree is not enough, the doctorate is considered the minimal educational requirement for clinical psychologists and after receiving a doctorate mandatory training continues. “Contemporary clinical psychology can be defined as the assessment, treatment, and study of human behavior in the context of biological, psychological, and social factors” (Plante, 2011, p 27). Conclusion The beginning of psychology dates back to the ancient Greeks, when people like Hippocrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Galen, just to name a few, dared to challenge the general beliefs of their time in concern to health.
Up until the nineteenth century the way of thinking about health remained very much the same, during this time the way of thinking sparked the beginning of the current fundamental beliefs of psychology. The birth of clinical psychology is marked by the founding of the first psychological clinic at the University of Pennsylvania in 1896, this aided in the development of clinical psychology as did the years following Both World Wars. Contemporary clinical psychology has come a long way and through the use of scientific methods and procedures it continues to evolve into a respected science of human behavior.EXAMINATION OF CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY PAPER
- Murdoch, D. D. , Gregory, A. , & Eggleton, J. M. (2015).
- Why Psychology? An Investigation of the Training in Psychological Literacy in Nursing, Medicine, Social Work, Counselling Psychology, and Clinical Psychology. Canadian Psychology, 56(1), 136-146. doi:10. 1037/a0038191 Palmer, A. , & Sese, A. (2013).
- Recommendations for the use of statistics in Clinical and Health Psychology. Clinica Y Salud, 24(1), 47-54. doi:10. 5093/c12013a6 Plante, T. G. (2011).
- Contemporary clinical psychology (3rd ed. ). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.