“Clinical psychology is defined by focusing on the assessment, treatment and understanding of psychological and behavioral problems and disorders” (Plante, 2011, p.5). Clinical psychology is not a specialty within psychology as much as it is an application of psychology that deals with emotional and behavioral problems (Plante, 2011). In order to understand clinical psychology, it is important to understand the history and evolving nature, the role of research and statistics, and the differences between clinical psychology and other mental health professionals including social work, psychiatry, and school psychology. History of Clinical Psychology
In 460-377 B.C., there were many people that influenced the early development of what would become to be known as clinical psychology. Hippocrates was one of the first to suggest that biological, psychological, and social factors contribute to the physical and emotional well being of individuals. After Hippocrates came up with the early perspectives that he had, Aristotle, Plato and Galen built upon them (Plante, 2011).
In the Middle Ages, (500-1450 A.D.) the relationship between health, illness, mind, and body became important again. In 1490-1541, a Swiss physician name Paracelsus developed treatments that were important in the biological foundations of mental illness. Then Juan Luis Vives (1492-1540) and Johann Weyer (1515-1588) a;sp began to bring attention to mental illness as being more about behavior and they too started believing treatment was right for the mentally ill (Plante, 2011).
During the Renaissance Era, Giovanni Battista Morgagni (1682-1771) discovered during an autopsy that a diseased organ could cause illness and/or death. This lead to many other discoveries, such as the discovery in the nineteenth century by Louis Pasteur where he found that diseases and illnesses could cause problems with the cells in the body. A psychological approach to mental illness came to light at this time, it was called moral therapy. All of these things lead to Theodor Fechner in 1860 to publish the book “Elements of Psychophysics” and for Wilhelm Wundt to publish the “Principles of Physiological Psychology”. After this the first laboratory of psychology was developed by Wundt in Germany 1879, this was the beginning of psychology that keeps evolving to this day (Plante, 2011).
Clinical psychology is constantly evolving, things change in the world and with that, clinical psychology needs to be constantly updated to make sure that all the research is consistent with what is happening in the world now. Nothing stays the same and if clinical psychology does not evolve with the present, therapy that practitioners use would not be very helpful to their clients (Plante, 2011). Role of Research and Statistics
Research is important in the field of clinical psychology because it lays the foundation for understanding the relationship between psychological factors and mental issues. It also helps in guiding practitioners in understanding in understanding the assessment and treatment of individuals. Research is very important in establishing reliability and validity, which then helps in clinicians knowing the right treatments and interventions that are effective in therapy (Plante, 2011).
It is important to do research to better understand diagnosis, treatment, and human behavior. Without research it would be impossible for a practitioner to have a starting point for their clients. Within this research, while some researches will have better statistics than others, there needs to be reliability and validity and it is important to have these with none or minimal errors. Differences in Clinical Psychology and other Mental Health Professionals
While all mental health professionals are important in the jobs that they do, they are not all considered the same. Clinical psychologists and Psychiatrists are important and while both conduct psychotherapy and research, there is a difference between the two professions. One big difference is in education experience, psychiatrists have a degree in medicine and clinical psychologists have a doctoral-level degree in psychology (Cherry, 2013). Psychologists get graduate training in psychology and go for either a Ph.D. or a Psy. D. in clinical or counseling psychology. Most doctorate programs usually take 5 to 7 years to get and some states will usually require a 1 to 2 year internship to be able to get licensed (Cherry, 2013). Psychiatrists are physicians that receive training specifically in assessment, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental illness. After receiving an undergraduate degree, individuals will then attend medical school to receive their M.D. After this, an additional 4 years of residency is required. Another major difference is that psychiatrists can prescribe medications; psychologists (in most places) cannot prescribe medications (Cherry, 2013).
The difference between clinical psychologists and social workers is the degree, instead of the doctoral degree; social workers get a Master’s Degree in Social Work, or M.S.W. An individual with a M.S.W. will also train with individuals to work with a different client group. Social workers tend to be more involved with an individuals everyday life, even going to the clients home, school and work where as a psychologist tends to do their therapy in an office setting (CU-Boulder, 2013).
The main difference between clinical psychology and school psychology is the work and education; school psychology requires a 4-year undergraduate degree and a graduate degree that usually takes 2 to 3 years for a Master’s Degree. School psychologists also usually work in a school but will sometimes also have private practices but will do consulting work with schools (Cherry, 2013).
While there are many different things that involve clinical psychology, it is important to understand why we use clinical psychology and how we use it. Between the researches that shows validity and reliability to the differences between clinical psychology and other mental health professions. Clinical psychology, although has some similarities to other mental health professions, differs because of the educational requirements that is needed to become a clinical psychologist. It is a very important part in society and it is important to make sure individuals understand how to use it to help clients get the best therapy possible.
CU-Boulder. (2013). Graduate Study in the field of psychology. Retrieved January 28, 2013 from www.psych.colorado.edu/-advising/gradstudy.html K. Cherry. (2013). What’s the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist. Retrieved January 28, 2013 from www.psychology.about.com/od/psychotherapy/f/psychvspsych.htm Plante, T. G. (2011). Contemporary clinical psychology (3rd ed.). Hoboken, NJ:
John Wiley & Sons.