Clinical psychology is one of the most prominent specialty areas in psychology today. Clinical psychology focuses and strives to understand, assess and treat psychological and behavioral problems and disorders (Plante, 2010). According to Bedi (2012), “Clinical psychology is a broad approach to human problems . . . with regard to numerous populations.” Furthermore, analyzing the methods in which the human psyche interacts with emotional, physical and social facets of health dysfunction is a priority in clinical psychology. Clinical psychology utilizes assessment and treatment approaches supported by social factors and research and statistics to offer optimal care and modern methods to patients (Plante, 2010). History of Clinical Psychology
Clinical psychology’s vast history highlights the early influences from early Greek philosophers to Sigmund Freud, to today’s modern area of psychology. Early influences that contributed to psychology were based in philosophy and science. However, the main driving force was the overwhelming desire to understand the mind- body connection and abnormal behavior that lead to this ever evolving field (Plante, 2010) Greek philosophers were crucial in the development of multi-approaches to illness and were responsible for highlighting the biopsychosocial perspective. Although the Greeks supported the idea that the gods controlled health and illness, they saw beyond this and explored biological, psychological, and social influences on illness. The Greeks were pioneers in that they realized the existence of a mind-body connection. They felt healing could occur in an environment similar to that of today’s resort environment; ill patients would bathe, pray, eat special foods, and have their dreams analyzed (Plante, 2010). One of the most famous Greeks “Hippocrates” theorized that disease was the result of an imbalance of four bodily fluids (humors), rather than spiritual factors. This imbalance caused psychological maladjustment such as anger, irritability, and sadness. Along with Hippocrates, Plato and Aristotle viewed the spirit or soul as the director of the body, and that issues that resided in the soul could cause physical illness. During the Middle- Ages mental and physical illness were viewed as result of a flawed character. Furthermore, insanity or diseases were believed to be caused by spirits or demons and atonement was the only form of treatment. Later, the Renaissance brought a re-emergence of the physical and medical worlds setting aside religious or spiritual views. New discoveries in mathematics, chemistry, and physics resulted in biomedical reductionism in that mental disease could be understood through observation and experiment rather than spiritual and metaphysical beliefs (Plante, 2010). Approaches however, to the mentally ill were very inhumane during this period, but because of the works of Pinel, Rush, and Bernard, more humane methods were established to alleviate and treat psychological dysfunction rather than separating and restraining the mentally ill. Finally, Wundt’s publishing of The Elements of Psychophysics in 1850; James’s Principles of Psychology in 1890; and the first Psychological laboratory by Wundt commenced the founding of the American Psychological Association (APA) in 1892. Four years later in 1896, the first clinic was opened by Lightner Witmer igniting clinical psychology’s beginnings. Unfortunately not everyone was excited about this new area of psychology. Many psychologists disagreed that the principles of human behavior should be applied to clinical situations. Many viewed this as a step backwards from understanding human behavior and more towards abnormal psychology and pathology (Plante, 2010). Fortunately by 1904, despite the friction and controversy in the field, the first clinical psychology classes commenced. Later, solidifying the need and creating an even greater demand for...
References: Bedi, R. P., Klubben, L. M., & Barker, G. T. (2012). Counseling vs. Clinical: A Comparison of Psychology Doctoral Programs in Canada. Canadian Psychology, 53(3), 228-253. doi:10.1037/a0028558
Plante, Thomas. G. (2010). What is Contemporary Clinical Psychology? (3rd ed.). Retrieved from https://ecampus.phoenix.edu/content/eBookLibrary2/content/eReader.aspx.
Ryder, A. G., Ban, L. M., & Chentsova-Dutton, Y. E. (2011). Towards a Cultural-Clinical Psychology. Social & Personality Psychology Compass, 5(12), 960-975. doi:10.1111/j.1751-9004.2011.00404.x
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