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Clinical psychology

The most popular branch of psychology is undoubtedly that of clinical psychology . Most of the graduate or graduate students in psychology, do a specialization to be able to practice as clinical psychologists . The reason for this may be because clinical psychology deals with everything that concerns mental health conditions.

Definition of Psychology

The definition of clinical psychology is a discipline in which it seeks to investigate, analyze, diagnose, prevent and treat a disorder or any other alteration in the state of mental health of a person. Therefore, it is the branch of psychology that seeks to understand a person’s conditions, as well as find a treatment for their improvement.

So, if you want to know everything about clinical psychology, then you can do it. Find information about its origin, who are its main representatives, as well as its importance, different fields and much more.

Origin and concept of clinical psychology

The first time the term Clinical Psychology was used was in 1907 by Lightner Witmer , an American psychologist and university professor. This Wilhelm Wundt disciple used this term to describe what he had been doing in a clinic located at the University of Pennsylvania.

Witmer carried out a study that consisted of observation and experimentation in individuals with certain psychological problems in order to achieve some change. This psychologist went on to found the first journal of clinical psychology . With the passage of time, the term was gradually being accepted, and more and more people were familiar with the concept .

Before clinical psychology became what it is today, it was completely dependent on psychiatry . However, this branch evolved over time from a proper psychological approach to develop psychotherapies as treatment measures.

It should be noted that for a long time, clinical psychology focused on the study and psychological evaluation of people . However, after World War II, the need and interest arose to devise treatments to care for people seriously affected psychologically by the war.

Main representatives of clinical psychology

As was well made clear earlier, Lightner Witmer was undoubtedly one of the first precursors of clinical psychology. However, in addition to him, other characters made important contributions to this branch of psychology . Many of them were actually psychiatrists by profession.

Among some of the representatives of clinical psychology we can find the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud; who founded the basic criteria of this branch through his methodology that consisted of the study of the individual, direct therapeutic intervention, and finally, the formulation of theories.

It is important to point out that Freud was one of the first neurologists to study the possibility of intervening therapeutically in people with some type of psychological condition.

In addition to Lightner Witmer and Sigmund Freud , we find the following representatives of clinical psychology:

  • Aaron T. Beck
  • Albert ellis
  • Carl Jung
  • Carl rogers
  • Fritz perls
  • Hans J. Eysenck
  • Joseph wolpe
  • Julian B. Rotter
  • Viktor frankl

What is clinical psychology?

Clinical psychology is, in short, a branch of psychology that is responsible for taking care of everything related to the mental health of an individual. Therefore, this branch of psychology consists of research, prognosis, evaluation, diagnosis, treatment and others, regarding problems that may affect someone’s mental health.

The main practices of clinical psychology are the diagnosis of psychological disorders , as well as the search for a treatment through psychotherapy. In addition to this, the development of programs, research, consultation and other practices are fundamental in this branch.

Those who wish to practice this profession must study psychology to later specialize in the branch of clinical psychology. In turn, there are different fields within this branch, where professionals can carry out their work.

What does a clinical psychologist do?

A clinical psychologist is a person specially trained to work in clinical psychology . Its function is to attend to all those people who feel bad psychologically.

In this way, clinical psychologists will be able to carry out a study of each case to reach a diagnosis, thanks to a diagnostic manual for mental disorders, such as the DSM-V .

By determining the psychological disorders that affect the patient , the clinical psychologist will be able to offer specialized treatment through psychotherapy. However, a clinical psychologist cannot only perform in this area of ​​work.

These professionals also have the ability to conduct research and thus make contributions to science . They also have the power to give classes, both in public and private institutions.

Main characteristics of clinical psychology

In accordance with all of the above, we can realize that this branch of psychology has strong characteristics that differentiate it from the others. It is precisely for this reason that it will be easy to point out the main characteristics of clinical psychology.

  • It is a branch of psychology.
  • Research and analyze everything that is associated with mental health.
  • Evaluates, diagnoses, prevents and treats everything that may affect mental health.
  • It has different fields of study.
  • His treatments are carried out through psychotherapies.

What are the differences between clinical psychology and psychiatry?

A common mistake people make is to confuse clinical psychology with psychiatry . Although they may have certain similarities because both seek to treat and alleviate psychological illnesses, they also have great differences.

On the one hand, someone who practices clinical psychology must study psychology to understand how the mind works and thus apply the most appropriate psychotherapies. On the other hand, people who practice psychiatry must study medicine to know the drugs they can use in their patients.

This means that psychologists are not able to prescribe drugs , while psychiatrists are. In fact, both professionals can work together to be able to provide adequate treatment to a person who needs both psychotherapy and psychotropic drugs.

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Applications of clinical psychology

Since the term clinical psychology was first used in 1907 , this branch has developed very fully. That is why today, clinical psychologists have the option of specializing in one or more specific fields of clinical psychology.

These specializations are of great help to understand more deeply the psychological conditions that occur in each field. The different areas of clinical psychology will be listed below:

  • Child psychology or clinical psychology.
  • Adult clinical psychology.
  • Intervention in families or family and couple psychology.
  • Community psychology.
  • Psychological evaluation.
  • Psychopathology (care and intervention in certain disorders).
  • Psychoneuroimmunology.
  • Neuropsychology.
  • Neuropsychological Rehabilitation.
  • Psychooncology.
  • Medical Psychology.

Instruments and tools used in clinical psychology

If you want to have an idea of ​​how a clinical psychologist works, we will tell you more or less the instruments, tools and strategies that these professionals usually use.

The first thing a clinical psychologist will do is an intervention, which can be divided into four different points. On the one hand, we would have primary prevention, secondary prevention, treatment and, finally, tertiary prevention.

Primary prevention

This consists of the intervention of the individual’s environment to avoid behaviors that could cause problems.

Secondary prevention

If it is not possible to prevent the appearance of the behaviors that were to be avoided in primary prevention, secondary prevention will be necessary . This means that a way to treat said behaviors and possible disorders that may develop will be sought.


If the disorders develop, or settle in any way, treatment will need to be applied.

Tertiary prevention

Tertiary prevention consists of acting on those disorders that have already undergone treatment. In this way you can avoid relapses and future complications.

Levels of intervention

Likewise, it is important that you know that there are levels within the intervention, which are: individual, group, family, community and institutional.

Assessment and diagnostic techniques

After finishing the intervention, whatever the type of intervention is carried out, the evaluation and diagnostic techniques are carried out In this way it will be possible to determine the general situation of the patient. These include:

  • Autoinforms.
  • Surveys
  • Interviews
  • Roleplay.
  • Behavioral observation.
  • Tests.
  • Self-observation and self-registration procedures.
  • Psychophysiological records.

Support in reports from other professionals

By performing the above techniques, you can proceed with the following. At this point, it is extremely important to take into account the information provided by other professionals. This will allow the clinical psychologist to draw his own conclusions, diagnosis and evaluation of his own case.

Intervention techniques and procedures

  • Behavior modification or therapy techniques.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques.
  • Psychoanalytics.
  • Person-centered and experiential psychotherapy techniques.
  • Phenomenological and existential psychotherapies.
  • Systemic Therapy Techniques.


In addition to all of the above, the different instruments that a clinical psychologist may use in a case must be taken into consideration. Among the most used instruments or tools are:

  • Apparatus for recording psychophysiological signals.
  • Biofeedback or feedback devices.
  • Questionnaires
  • Surveys
  • Scales.
  • Interview guides and protocols.
  • Stimulus presentation systems.
  • Between many more.

What is a psychotherapy?

Although we have already mentioned the word psychotherapy repeatedly, it is likely that you do not know what it means. This is simply a treatment that is carried out by a psychologist.

Psychotherapy could be compared to a drug prescribed by a doctor, since in the same way, it is necessary for a professional to give the necessary indications to be able to receive the treatment appropriately.

Importance of clinical psychology

After exposing all of the above, you may be wondering what is the importance of this branch of psychology. The answer to this question is in the previous paragraphs. However, we’ll tell you right away why clinical psychology is so important.

This branch of psychology, as was made clear earlier, is responsible for everything related to mental health. Thanks to the study, analysis, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental disorders, it is possible to improve the quality of life of those affected .

That is why clinical psychology is so important in our society , as it seeks to eliminate or reduce all those psychological conditions that prevent a person from being able to easily adapt to their environment.

Some of the most common problems that clinical psychologists must deal with are anxiety, phobias, depression, insecurity , among others. Likewise, cases of attention deficit, child aggression, sexual dysfunctions, stress and much more are common.

Clinical psychology and new technologies

There is no doubt that we are in the middle of the technological age, and thanks to it, we are about to discover an infinity of interesting and useful things. Clinical psychology has been advancing by leaps and bounds. Such is the case of virtual reality, which can work as an excellent therapy to lose irrational fear (phobia) of something in particular .

Also, virtual reality or augmented reality, in addition to being a good therapy to treat phobias, has proven to be perfect as a treatment for anxiety disorders. It should be noted that thanks to easy access to the internet from anywhere in the world, anyone can be well informed about the different disorders that affect mental health.

However, this is a great double-edged sword, since not all the information on the internet is completely real or reliable. In any case, always, when in doubt, you should resort to the opinion of experts, in this case, a clinical psychologist.

In short, thanks to clinical psychology, many people can improve their psychological condition to better adapt to their environment and feel safe . Therefore, if you feel that you need help, do not hesitate for a single moment and go immediately to the psychologist. In this way, you can be more comfortable with other people and interact with more people.

Really, the world of psychology is very interesting, especially this one of clinical psychology. If you are passionate about the subject, you can consider the idea of ​​studying this as a professional career.

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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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