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Clinical Psychology: Definition, History, and Its Comparison With Other Mental Health Professions


Clinical psychology is a specialty that focuses on providing ongoing and extensive behavioral and mental health treatment to people and families, as well as advice to agencies and communities. It also includes training, education, supervision, and practice that is founded on research. This area is referred to as “clinical” since it entails watching and assisting patients in clinics and comparable settings. However, practitioners may practice independently or in collaboration with other health and social professionals. As the discipline of clinical psychology expanded, so did the therapist’s expectations. Psychologists who offer therapeutic services are today trained in a variety of methodologies and theoretical perspectives, which equips them with the information and skills essential to enhance psychology’s research, professional practice, and the general health and well-being of individuals.

Clinical psychology is a dynamic branch of psychology that dates back to the ancient Greeks and continues to broaden the scope of psychology today (Kazdin, 2021). Prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental disorder have all contributed to the evolutionary character of this subject of psychology by the use of statistics and research. The extensive background that has shaped the focus and concentration of clinical psychology distinguishes it from other subfields in which responsibilities and functions may overlap. Examining the long history and dynamic nature of clinical psychology will provide insight into how the discipline has grown to become one of the fastest growing areas of psychology, as well as the efficacy of good research and statistics in assessing and treating individuals in need.

History and Evolving of Clinical Psychology

Prior to the establishment of psychology as a discipline and philosophy as a doorway to psychology, mental disease existed. Although the origins of psychology may be traced back to Greek philosophers who investigated the interdependence of the human mind and body and its effect on physical sickness, mental illness was recognized as early as ancient civilization Vander (Weg & Suls, 2014). Historically, mental disorder was considered to be the result of paranormal activity of the human body, necessitating violent and occasionally fatal remedies such as trephining and exorcism. Hippocrates, a Greek philosopher, devised a theory in which he thought that mental sickness occurs naturally as a result of brain dysfunction, resulting in a soul ailment. Other thinkers, such as Aristotle and Plato, agreed, believing that healing would occur via spirit mending. The Renaissance ushered in a new era of scientific inquiry and reasoning, exposing the Greek philosophers’ views as incorrect and erroneous Aquinas resurrected Greek philosophical notions by asserting that the spirit is a collaborator with the body, that bodily organs become ill, and that the spirit is the union of the intellect and body. However, it functions independently of the physical body (Plante, 2011). Scholars such as Sigmund Freud provided the missing explanations for human behavior. Freud was in line with the early philosophical philosophers and their views about the mind-body connection and the soul’s separation. According to Freud, unconscious thought triggers conscious activity that results in a physical disease (Kazdin, 2021). He argued that the mental was distinct from the conscious and hence could not be held accountable for correct explanations of conduct, but rather for self-awareness.

Clinical psychology has evolved over time, beginning with Witmer’s establishment of the first clinical psychology laboratory in 1896, despite the American Psychology Association’s disdain and lack of support. Witmer offered the notion of applying psychological principles to a human disease in order to gain insight into the psyche’s influence on the physical body, which was not accepted by the APA until after clinical psychology was temporarily separated from the Association (Field & Wilcox, 2017). Clinical psychology was shown to be beneficial during wartime, since examinations and tests were devised to properly assign soldiers, resulting in the most efficient outcome of the fight. The initial exams and assessments served as the foundation for military and other psychological testing utilized in classrooms today. At the conclusion of the conflicts, psychologists were required to treat troops who were suffering from the psychological impacts of the battles. These events resulted in the Boulder Conferences, which established new standards for psychologist training and increased recognition of the specialty.

The contemporary clinical psychology combines scientific advancements in conjunction with a more in-depth understanding of the mind and spirit, which serve as the background for the growing human condition. Science has made steady progress in terms of developing new technologies that advances the discipline of psychology. Because treatment is adapted to the unique demands of each patient rather than remaining steady in a single uniform treatment, new breakthroughs occur and the rate of success increases (Plante, 2010). As science improves and new technology improvements are made, clinical psychology endeavors to preserve its evolutionary nature.

Role of Statistics and Research in Clinical Psychology

All branches of psychology are founded on study and testing. Research is used to elicit data that may be used to address the what and why of human behavior, as well as the what – ifs of therapy and prevention (Field & Wilcox, 2017). Clinical psychology’s scientific component emerges through study and experimentation in order to create and adopt treatment approaches that are most effective. Statistical data is gathered and evaluated during the treatment process to ensure that the most accurate and trustworthy information is shared and utilized in the future. Utilizing the most exact and trustworthy data results in dependable information, which has the ability to advance research and develop novel treatment processes such as drug administration.

Clinical Psychology relative to Other Mental Health Professions

Clinical Psychology suggestively overlaps with other mental care jobs. Nevertheless, the field’s history distinguishes between competence and training concentration. For example, social workers focus on case studies throughout time, but lack comprehensive biological component and research techniques training. Both clinical and counseling psychology have a comparable training. A clinical psychologist, on the other hand, concentrates on mental health issues and utilizes a more experimental and empirical approach to treatment (Plante, 2010).


Mental disease has developed to encompass the most modern research and therapy while striving to progress. Clinical psychology focuses on assessing, treating, and better understanding mind in relation to behavior and physical illness. As research and technology progress, clinical psychology evolves and establishes definite and reliable treatment strategies. The utilization of research and statistics determines treatment and evaluation consistency. Unlike other mental health jobs, clinical psychology combines study and experimentation to identify the optimal path.


Field, A. P., & Wilcox, R. R. (2017). Robust statistical methods: A primer for clinical psychology and experimental psychopathology researchers. Behaviour research and therapy98, 19-38.

Kazdin, A. E. (2021). Research design in clinical psychology. Cambridge University Press.

Plante, T. G. (2010). Contemporary clinical psychology. John Wiley & Sons.

Vander Weg, M., & Suls, J. (2014). A history of clinical psychology in medical settings. In Handbook of clinical psychology in medical settings (pp. 19-38). Springer, New York, NY.


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