HISTORY OF CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY
ROOTS OF RESEARCH & ASSESSMENT IN CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY
The evolution of the field of clinical psychology after Lightner Witmer can be best understood through an examination of how clinical psychologists came to be involved in each of four different activities:
Clinical psychologists became involved in these endeavors at different points during the twentieth century and for very different reasons. It is important to comprehend the role of clinical psychologists in these four activities both to understand forces in this field’s past and to anticipate changes in its future.
Likewise, it is important to possess an understanding not only of the events that shaped clinical psychology, but also of the broader social context in which the field has developed.
During the early years, clinical psychology was a science and profession dominated by males (Snyder, McDermott, Leibowitz, & Cheavens, 2000). For example, in 1917, only 13 percent of APA members were women. Although women made progress in the fields of developmental and school psychology, from 1920 through 1974 women comprised only 24 percent of graduates with doctoral degrees in clinical psychology (Snyder et al.).
By 1994, however, 58.7 percent of students admitted to doctoral programs in clinical psychology were women. Thus, the composition of clinical psychology has changed from being overwhelmingly male to being overwhelmingly female.
HOW CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGISTS BECAME INVOLVED IN RESEARCH
Witmer and the other founders of clinical psychology were researchers who were interested in the application of their research to the benefit of others.
Clinical researchers try to add to these bodies of knowledge both to increase their understanding of psychopathology, illness, and health and to improve their methods for its treatment and prevention.
Because of their broad training in basic behavioral science, clinical psychologists are able to draw conclusions and contribute to research in a variety of different areas and to collaborate with professionals from other disciplines.
THE SCOPE OF CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGICAL RESEARCH
Clinical psychological research has steadily grown in its scope since the early 1900s. This subfield now includes:
Research on the basic characteristics and prevalence of psychopathology. (epidemiology), the causes of psychopathology (etiology),
the measurement of behavior and psychological characteristics of individuals (assessment), the role of the brain and central nervous system (clinical Neuropsychology), the treatment of psychopathology (psychotherapy),
The prevention of psychopathology and the promotion of psychological health, and the links between psychological factors and physical health and illness (health psychology/behavioral medicine).
There has been landmark research in each of these areas during the past 70 years, the results of which led to substantial changes in knowledge about a particular problem or issue.
RESEARCHES THAT SHAPED THE FIELD
Clinical psychology has been shaped not only by findings from research studies but also by important reviews of research evidence and by the development of new methods for clinical practice.
Two examples are particularly prominent in this regard:
1) Effectiveness of Psychotherapy
2) Statistical vs. Clinical Prediction
1) EFFECTIVENESS OF PSYCHOTHERAPY
In the early 1950s, the field of psychotherapy was in its early stages of development, and much of the practice of psychotherapy was based on the psychoanalytic model developed by Freud.
Research on the effectiveness of this approach to psychotherapy was very limited, however-most practitioners simply assumed that the methods they were using were effective in treating their patients.
Given this widespread acceptance of the belief that psychotherapy was...
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