Examination of Clinical Psychology

19 May No Comments

Timothy Brown


February 25, 2018

Rina Wallace

The field of psychology has grown since its start to include many different theories, disciplines, and specialties like many of the other medical fields. Clinical psychology is a sub specialty of psychology that has evolved over the years with the advancements made through research and experimentation. As clinical psychology gained more ground and prestige the research and uses for clinical psychology grew into what it is today. This growth from the field of psychology into its own specialty with a primary focus on treating individuals with a variety of approaches has helped to propel it from an afterthought into its own field.

History of clinical psychology

Psychology as a science and a field has evolved over the years from its humble beginnings from Greek philosophy to what we now know it. Greek philosophers like Hippocrates, Plato, and Galen all contributed to the ideas behind mental deficiencies and how to treat patients. The middle ages brought about more ideas on mental illness and a shift from it being a spiritual issue to an actual sickness of the mind and body. The actual birth of psychology came around the nineteenth century with the first use of the word psychology and it being seen as an actual medical field of study. The field of psychology began to grow and gain traction with other reputable medical members and the beginning of the American Psychological Association sealing the deal and status of the new field. Clinical psychology sprouted from the ground laid by psychology as a sub specialty years later with the opening of a psychology clinic by Lightner Witmer in Pennsylvania. The theories and ideas Witmer used at his clinic built the base for clinical psychology and many of those techniques are still used in some form today. Clinical psychology had a huge boost in the United States with the visit to the country by Sigmund Freud whose reputation helped to solidify the status of clinical psychology as a relevant field to the rest of North America. As with many fields war brought about significant research and productivity in the field of clinical psychology with the United States Army using clinical psychologists to help with their soldiers and the many issues of putting the right soldiers in the best positions and with the issues they dealt with after their combat experiences. The wars brought more funds for research and put more focus on the field which helped bring about new theories and knowledge. Clinical psychology began as an offshoot and an idea that there are other ways to treat mental illness. Since that point it has evolved from theory to practice with the help of funding for research and the effort, ideas, and work of many different psychologists whose goal was to help people and further the science of clinical psychology.

Research and statistics1

Research is the backbone of all scientific fields and clinical psychology has been aided throughout the years by the research that has been done to advance the understanding of human psychology. Research, like the field of clinical psychology, has come a long way over the years to ensure that the assumptions, conclusions, and the process itself are done in a manner that yields the most accurate results with as little bias as possible by using the scientific method for research. The scientific method sets forth rigid standards in the way scientific research must be conducted to make the research accurate, conclusive, and usable. There are a variety of ways to conduct research with the method used being dependent on what it is you are trying to accomplish with the research. Some of the different research designs are quasi-experimental design, between-group design, multiple baseline designs, case studies, and many more. Once the data has been collected the information must be evaluated and compiled to give the researcher an idea of the results. Statistics are used by the researchers to evaluate, assess, and compose the final results of the study being conducted. The researchers use the statistics to break down large amounts of data and convert it into information that can be used across spectrum such as applying the data to a portion of the population or even the country as a whole.

Clinical psychology vs. other mental health. Clinical psychology is only one of many different specialties in the mental health fields. There are many areas of psychology that are applied in a variety of places and ways to assist people with mental health problems. Some of the different fields are social workers, psychiatrists, school psychologists, marriage and family counselors, and many other professionals that work in the mental health field. Psychiatrists are the mental health care professionals that are most confused with psychologists. Psychiatrists are different from psychologists in a number of important areas. The biggest difference is that psychiatrists have a medical doctorate (MD) and have gone through medical school. Having gone through medical school, psychiatrists are more knowledgeable in the areas of pharmacological medications and can prescribe medications as opposed to most psychologists. Psychologists can get prescribing privileges in some states as long as they complete the extra schooling and training required by the state. Another difference between psychiatrists and psychologists is that psychiatrists don’t the level of training with psychotherapy and providing counseling to patients. Social workers are mental health professionals that are very different from psychologists in both schooling and focus. Social workers generally have either a bachelors or master’s degree in psychology and while they have some psychotherapy training their main focus is aiding patients navigate their therapy and also conduct counseling sessions. While social workers have some training and schooling in psychology their main focus is the social side of the field such as crime and other social issues. School psychologists are somewhat similar to clinical psychologists in schooling however, most only attain a master’s degree in the area of school psychology. Their primary focus is on assisting children and guiding them and their teachers in a school setting. A majority work with special needs children and provide testing and general suggestions to assist parents and teachers when they have a child in need of psychological services. Marriage and family counselors are mental health professionals that focus on family counseling but also do some individual therapy. Their level of schooling is generally far below that of a psychologist since they usually have just a bachelor’s degree but some get a master’s degree. One of the biggest differences to clinical psychologists besides schooling is the level of skill the marriage and family counselors have with training and quality of their work since they don’t have as much advanced training.

Conclusion. Clinical psychology has evolved as a sub specialty in psychology after many years of growth and gains in the field of psychology. The field of clinical psychology has been aided by the energy and expertise of many individuals as well as the addition of funding for research over the years. Clinical psychology, like many other specialties in the mental health field, has its own way of approaching psychological problems and dealing with those in need and as time progresses more will be known about the human mind which will give psychologists more tools to work with when caring for patients.

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