Examination of Clinical Psychology
At its base level, clinical psychology is the attempt of an educated individual applying their knowledge of human behavior (gathered through scientific research) to address the relational, physiological, or affective concerns or troubles of another’s life. Plante (2011) defines clinical psychology as an understanding, assessment, and treatment of psychological or behavioral disorders. As a scientific enterprise that employees the scientific method to study and evaluate procedures and possible treatments, clinical psychology endeavors to research the most acceptable methods of aiding its patients. Psychotherapy and research go hand-in-hand, creating ...view middle of the document...
Mysticism and religion were replaced during the Renaissance by a more thorough understanding of the internal workings of the human cell, brain, and body – led by laboratory research and scientific observation. This span of history gave us Pinel, Rush, and Bernard who advocated the humane treatment of dysfunctions rather than the separation of those considered deviant or abnormal.
The publication of The Elements of Psychophysics by Wilhelm Wundt in 1850 and Principles of Psychology by William James in 1890 helped herald the birth of psychology as an official field of study (Plants, 2011). The issuance of these works, in hand with the establishment of the first recognized psychological lab (designed by Wundt) helped usher in the creation of the American Psychological Association (APA) in 1892. The goal of the fledgling field was to study and measure human behavior in an attempt to empirically categorize and understand the underlying constituents of the human mind. When Witmer opened his first clinic in 1896, many in the field disagreed with the application of behavioral principles to clinical works. Mainstream psychology saw this as a move toward the study of abnormal psychology rather than the exploration of normal (or average) behavior. Despite some unease between the established psychology field and the young upstart, clinical psychology, formal clinical classes began at the University of Pennsylvania in 1904 and the first publication of the Journal of Abnormal Psychology followed in 1907 (Plante, 2011).
The twentieth century saw a rapid growth of clinical psychology, regardless of the opposition to an applied approach to psychology by the APA (Plante, 2011). Sigmund Freud’s work, harkening back to Plato’s belief of philosophical influence on tangible materials, inspired the development of clinical psychology for years to come. His theories on the unconscious and the effect of internal conflict on mental and physical illnesses mandated the framework for clinical psychology until the 1950s. The Boulder Conference of 1949 established guidelines for clinical psychology training; including the requirement of a solid comprehension of both psychotherapy and psychological research methods.
Alterations in the psychological perspective were brought about by developments such as mental health facility establishment and deviant behavior treatment by the use of psychotropic drugs. Freud’s version of psychotherapy was replaced with approaches of cognitive-behaviorism and humanism (Plante, 2011). Such conceptual advancements offered alternatives in diagnosis and treatment, but no one theory has emerged to entirely explain human behavior, cognition, or dysfunction. In a constantly evolving field, eclectic approaches that include various elements from some of the abovementioned perspectives – such as the biopsychosocial theory – have been included in the current definition of clinical psychology.