Clinical psychology is a branch of psychology that deals with the research, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of psychological or mental disorders. Professionals who specialize in this area help patients understand their behaviors, validate how they feel, and give them tools to manage their difficulties and problems.
In addition, the prevention and treatment of mental illness are among the most important responsibilities of clinical psychology experts. For this reason, the role of these professionals is of utmost importance for public health, the emotional stability of healthcare personnel, and all people in general.
Five fascinating facts about clinical psychology
Just like forensic psychology or organizational psychology, in order to specialize in the clinical field, it’s essential to obtain a graduate degree in psychology. It teaches the different currents of clinical practice that are used in the treatment of psychological disorders. For example, cognitive-behavioral therapy, positive psychology, and acceptance and commitment therapy, among others.
Below, we’ll explain some interesting facts about clinical psychology.
1. Lightner Witmer was its creator
The American psychologist, Lightner Witmer (1867-1956) was the precursor of clinical psychology. In fact, he was the first person to coin the term in one of his essays. Furthermore, thanks to his great contributions and theoretical and practical procedures for evaluating and analyzing human consciousness, he’s also considered to be one of the pioneers of psychology.
In 1896, Witman founded the world’s first child psychology clinic at the University of Pennsylvania. Here, many children with learning disabilities were treated. Moreover, Witmer affirmed that the development and capacities of children are highly conditioned by environmental elements and their socioeconomic role.
2. Clinical psychology has multiple approaches and tools
Although psychology has many clearly differentiated branches (forensic, educational, sexual, business, etc.), clinical psychology is probably the most recognized. Within this field of knowledge, there are multiple approaches and tools that professionals can hone if they want to specialize.
For example, a clinical psychologist might focus on clinical child psychology, neuropsychological rehabilitation, family intervention, or psycho-oncology. Indeed, it’s a fact that all people, regardless of their age, can require psychological care. Accordingly, for every one of them, there’s a qualified professional.
3. It differs from psychiatry in its academic training
Although clinical psychology is often confused with psychiatry, in reality, the two disciplines involve different academic training. A psychiatrist studies medicine and subsequently specializes in mental illness. On the other hand, a clinical psychologist first graduates in psychology and then specializes in mental health.
Another major difference between the two fields of study is that a psychiatrist is the only mental health professional who can prescribe pharmacological medication. Whereas a clinical psychologist is in charge of diagnosing and treating mental illnesses or disorders through psychological rehabilitation or psychotherapy
4. It allows the understanding of human behavior
The behavior of each individual is the result of their interaction with the environment. Therefore, although there are external factors that can influence personal attitudes, there’s also an inner force that drives individuals to behave in a certain way. It’s essential to find out more about these aspects if we want to understand our own personal universes.
This is achieved through dialogue and psychotherapy sessions. The therapist understands, predicts, and eventually controls the behavior of their patients. Cognitive techniques and therapies, added to intervention programs, allow the understanding of where the patient’s learned habits come from. Moreover, the patient learns what they can do to break these patterns of behavior.
5. The Internet is one of its greatest allies today
Due to the COVID-19 health emergency, access to face-to-face psychological therapies (both for health professionals and people in general) became impossible. Therefore, other alternatives that were little used in the past became in demand. Among them, was the use of the Internet in order for psychologists to provide counseling and therapy at a distance.
Today, online psychotherapy is commonly used as a complement to face-to-face therapy. Moreover, sometimes, due to distance or health issues, it’s the only safe way to prevent the neglect of psychological support. Therefore, chats, e-mails, video calls, and even virtual reality have become allies in the field of mental health today.
Clinical psychology brings great health benefits
Mental health care has gained a great deal of relevance in recent years. In fact, seeking professional help is the first step we can take in understanding our feelings. We achieve this by listening to the opinion of an expert who’s only there to help.
If you’re looking for the attention of a clinical psychologist, you’ll find one in your nearest hospital to whom you can unburden all your thoughts and concerns. Through interviews, a review of your clinical history, and certain lifestyle changes, you’ll be able to alleviate and prevent the development of many kinds of disorders.
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