Clinical Psychology, defined is the application of psychological principles to the assessment, treatment, prevention and understanding of the interaction of the psyche and the physical, social, and emotional world with the goal of enhancing psychological and physical health and well-being (Vallis & Howes, 1996). A field of psychology that continues to evolve, clinical psychology spans back to the ancient Greeks and continues to add to the field of psychology today (Plante, 2011). Through the use of research and statistics, prevention, intervention, and treat of mental dysfunction have added to the evolutionary nature of this subfield of psychology (Plante, 2011). The vast history that influenced the focus and emphasis of clinical psychology sets it apart from other subfields that it may overlap roles and functions (Roger & Stone, 2016). Delving into the extensive history and evolving nature of clinical psychology will give a clear understanding of how the subfield has become one of the fastest growing fields of psychology and the effectiveness of proper research and statistics when evaluating and treating those in need.
History and Evolution
Before psychology became a science and philosophy existed to become the gateway to psychology, mental illness existed. The roots of psychology are grounded in the Greek philosophers who studied the interconnectedness of the human mind and body and its influences on physical illness, however, mental illness was noted as early as the ancient civilization (Foerschner, 2010). During the ancient times, mental illness was believed to be the demonic possession of the human body which required brutal and sometimes fatal cures such as trephining and exorcism (Foerschner, 2010). Greek philosopher Hippocrates developed a theory in which he believed that mental illness is naturally occurring within the pathology of the brain that resulted in an ailment of the soul (Foerschner, 2010). Other philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato concurred and believed that healing would come from repairing the spirit (Foerschner, 2010). The Renaissance brought about the need for scientific exploration and reasoning rendering the Greek philosopher theories as unscientific and inaccurate (Plante, 2011). Aquinas recovered the Greek philosophical theories staking claim that the spirit is a collaborative of the body, and the physical organs became ill, and the spirit is the union of the mind and body. However, it operates separately from the physical body (Foerschner, 2010).
Thinkers such as Sigmund Freud brought with them the explanations that were lacking to explain the human behavior. Freud was in tune with the original philosophical thinkers and their ideas on the interconnectedness of the mind and body and the separation of the soul (Plante2011). Freud theorized that the unconscious thought triggered conscious behavior that is responsible for a physical ailment (Plante, 2011). Freud believed the mental was separate from the conscious, therefore, could not be liable for a valid explanation of behavior, rather insights of the self (Matthew, 2013). His theory followed the philosophical footsteps of Descartes, who believed objects could not be explained by rationality, rather unrational movements through space (Matthew, 2013). Freud’s theory established the psychoanalysis that lay central to the current belief that individual demands require accommodation in the present field of clinical psychology (Matthew, 2013).
The Evolving nature of clinical psychology spans from the opening of the first clinical psychology lab by Witmer in 1896 despite the discredit and lack of support of the American Psychology Association (Plante, 2011). Witmer proposed the idea of applying psychological principles to a human ailment that would lend insight the psyche has on the physical body that was not welcomed by the APA until after the temporary separation of clinical psychology from the Association (Plante, 2011). Wartime proved to benefit from clinical psychology as assessments and testing were developed to place soldiers correctly to produce the most efficient outcome of the war. The original tests and evaluations are the basis for today’s military and other psychological testing used in the classrooms (Plante, 2011). At the close of the wars, psychologists were necessary to treat soldiers suffering from the psychological effects the wars imposed upon them (Plante, 2011). These events led to the Boulder Conferences, which developed new training guidelines for the education of clinical psychologists and an acceptance of the field (Plante, 2011).
Today, clinical psychology encompasses the scientific advances in conjunction with the deeper understanding of the psyche and spirit that is the context of the evolving human condition (Plante, 2011). Science has a consistent advancement of the development of new technology that enhances the field of psychology. As treatment is tailored to meet the needs of the individual rather than steadfast in a single uniform treatment, new developments are established, and the rate of success heightens (Plante, 2011). As science continues to develop and new technological advances developed, the effort of clinical psychology maintains it evolutionary nature.
Role of Research and Statistics
All Psychology fields gather its base through research and testing. Research is utilized to collect information pertinent to answering the what and why questions of human behavior and the what – if’s of treatment and prevention (Roger & Stone, 2016). The scientific aspect of clinical psychology evolves from the research and experimentation to develop testing and implement treatment procedures to establish the most effect treatment plan (Plante, 2011). Statistical data is collected throughout the process of treatment and analyzed to decipher the most accurate and reliable information is being shared and utilized in the future (Plante, 2011). Using the most precise and reliable data provides the most dependable information that holds the potential to further research and create innovative treatment procedures such as the use of medications (Plante, 2011).
Clinical Psychology versus Other Mental Health Professions
Clinical Psychology significantly overlaps with other mental health professions. However, the history of the field differentiates between the expertise through the focus and training emphasis endured (Roger & Stone, 2016). For Instance, social worker focuses on case studies over a particular period, but do not attain the extensive biological component training and research methods (Plante, 2011). Clinical psychology is most closely related to counseling psychology as both receive very similar training. However, a counseling psychologist focuses on guidance and advice whereas clinical psychologists focus on disturbances in mental health and take a more experimental and scientific approach to treatment (Roger & Stone, 2016).
Mental illness dates back before the development of psychology and has evolved to include the most advanced research and treatment while continuing with its evolving nature. Assessment, treatment, and understanding the human psyche in conjunction with human behavior and physical ailment are the main facets of clinical psychology. As science and technology continue to evolve and advance, the field of clinical psychology develops further and establish definitive and reliable treatment plans. The use of research and statistics determine consistency among the various treatment and assessments. Although mental health professions all hold some overlap, clinical psychology is different from other fields in that it delves into the research aspects in conjunction with experimentation to find the best route to take.
Foerschner, A. M. (2010). “The History of Mental Illness: From ‘Skull Drills’ to ‘Happy Pills.'” Student Pulse, 2(09). Retrieved from http://www.studentpulse.com/a?id=283
Matthews, E. (2013). REVISITING FREUD. Philosophy, Psychiatry & Psychology : PPP, 20(3), 243-245,285. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1513200453?accountid=458
Plante, T.G. (2011). Contemporary Clinical Psychology (3rd ed.). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc
Roger, P., & Stone, G. (2016). Counseling Psychology vs Clinical Psychology. Society of Counseling Psychology, American Psychological Association, Division 17. Retrieved from http://www.div17.org/about-cp/counseling-vs-clinical-psychology/
Vallis, T. M., & Howes, J. L. (1)996). The field of clinical psychology: Arriving at a definition. Canadian Psychology, 37(2), 120-127. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/220807484?accountid=458