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Like any other field in psychology, clinical psychology traces its roots from the work of the founding father of psychology, Sigmund Freud. It can further be traced back to the 1800s from the work of Lightner Witmer who is accredited to have established one of the very first counseling clinics. Like all the other sub branches of psychology, clinical psychology has grown from the mother branch to become an autonomous branch in psychology, with clear scope of practice and theories that are meant to ensure that the branch manages to achieve its mandate. Clinical psychology is highly related to counseling psychology and the two have often been confused by various quarters. The two sub branches of psychology concerns themselves with the task of counseling their clients to ensure that they can comfortably handle their own psychological problems.
However, the two disciplines have some differences in their target group of clients. Whereas counseling psychology concerns itself with helping normal clients, either in group or individual therapy to overcome their problems, clinical counseling helps those with mental problems to overcome their psychological problems. Clinical counseling therefore has a limited scope in the sense that it deals specifically with clients who have some health issues especially mental health issues. Clinical psychology therefore started as an interest of general psychologists to study issues that are related to intellectual differences, psychopathology and brain damage.
After this interest from the general psychologists of the 18th century, they undertook courses that they came about as there were no set curriculums and a set of courses for clinical psychologists (Reisman, 2007). However, in 1896, the University of Pennsylvania founded a clinical psychology clinic under the leadership of Lightner Whitmer. The newly established department began offering courses in clinical psychology slowly shaping scope of clinical psychology. However the newly trained clinical psychologists learned the jobs in clinics, schools for the mentally disturbed among other areas places. Their basic roles were to conduct research and carry out psychological evaluation.
The North American region has been accredited for the role it played in the initial foundations of this field of the field From this slow start, the field of clinical psychology developed and extensive research were carried on various aspects of the early stages of psychology. As noted by Reisman, (2007), the periods between 1900 and 1909 were dominated by extensive research on the validity or otherwise of the Freudian theory of interpretation of dreams. The field started examining the origin of morals and virtues and the researchers managed to establish that this vital elements that shaped human behavior were not as a result of one particular class of persons but are shared attributes across the human race.
Clinical psychology developed alongside the development of other fields that concerns themselves with mental health such as psychiatry, social work as well as nursing. Various vulnerabilities of the time were vital forces that provided the impetus for the development of this field. The world war two has been cited as one of the major events that encouraged the widespread growth of clinical psychology in America. This was achieved due to the increased psychological pressures that people had from the ravages of war. The ravages of this war affected everyone, either as a person at the battle field or as a spouse who was left behind at home while the partner was in the battle. The uncertainty of life in those war charged moments increased psychological pressures that encouraged the development of more brain testers as well as ways to deal with the psychological problems.
Since this war, clinical psychology has become a fully fledged field of psychological operations. However, the field is highly dynamic. This is because the major stressors of the world keep on changing hence forcing the approaches that the field gives to the clients in search of therapy. This has prompted the development of new theories and therapeutic approaches that are utilized to treat various problems. As noted by Spring, (2007), there is a general increase in the number of stressors in the society that has prompted the development of various theories, therapeutic techniques and new approaches in the field. The failing family unity and the collapse of the institution of marriage, loss of employment and the ravages of declining economy are among the major stressors that lead to disorders that are now being handled by clinical psychologists. The dynamism of this field therefore is highly unpredictable, but as problems are bound to occur, there is an assurance that the field shall continue experiencing more dynamism in future.
In such a dynamic field, research and statistics are instruments of great benefits. As noted by Spring, (2007), research in the field of clinical psychology helps the field to develop new approaches that ensure that the increasing levels of diseases and other illnesses are well taken care of. Statistics comes in hand as it provided the needed implements that are used by researches in data analysis before making inferences concerning the research that is conducted. Statistic captures vital information on the recurrence of illnesses, the raise or the fall of an existing stressor or the identification of a new stressor that is becoming a common causal factor for the cases that the clinical psychologists handle. Informatics therefore is an important complement in any research and the fact that the field of clinical psychology is highly dynamic gives reason as to why research and statistics remains important element in the field.
In conclusion, it is evident that the field of clinical psychology have developed from simple curiosity of some psychologist and has been motivated to grow due to the nature of stressing situations of varies periods of time. Since this field is highly dynamic and cannot predict the nature of future stressors, research and statistics plays a vital role in the process of providing for therapy as the two helps in identification of new types of disorders and ways to treat them.
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