Psychology is an extraordinarily diverse field with hundreds of career paths. Some specialties, like treating the mentally ill, are familiar to most. Others, like helping with the design of advanced computer systems or studying memory, are less well-known. What psychologists have in common is a shared interest in mind and behavior. In their work they draw on an ever-expanding body of scientific knowledge about how humans think, act, and feel, and apply the information to their special areas of expertise. The profession of clinical psychology encompasses both research and statistics, through which is learned fundamental data about behavior; and practice, through which that knowledge is applied in helping to solve problems. Training for clinical psychologists differs from other areas of expertise. Contemporary clinical psychology incorporates “culture, traditions, and gender” into the study of behavior (Plante, 2011, p. 27). Therefore, most present-day clinical psychologists consider human behavioral problems from many aspects. History
Clinical psychology has evolved over the past 60 years into a dynamic field separated in specialty by age group of clients and different schools of thought or theoretical approaches to practicing clinical psychology. Beginning after World War II, when veterans were returning from war by the thousands with various psychological issues, psychiatrists and those in the medical field realized they did not have the workforce to treat every soldier. Therefore, in 1946, the Veteran’s Administration “requested 4,700 clinical psychologists be employed in the VA system” (Plante, 2011, p. 49). In 1947, The American Psychological Association Committee on Training in Clinical Psychology convened and worked toward the development of training standards and guidelines for clinical psychology graduate and internship training. This committee’s standard for training was the benchmark in clinical psychology. The standard would consist of a four-year doctoral program along with a one-year clinical internship.
In addition, they would be trained equally as “scientists and clinicians” and include “research, treatment, and assessment” (Plante, 2011, p. 71). In 1949, another committee assembled in Boulder, Colorado, and developed the scientist-practitioner model of clinical training, named after the city of Boulder. During the following three decades, numerous innovative treatment and intervention methods and standpoints were presented as opposed to the customary psychodynamic approachs. Of the many approaches to clinical psychology, four are major and consist of the behavioral, cognitive-behavioral, humanistic, and family classifications. By employing these four major approaches the effectiveness of treatment is heightened (Plante, 2011). A defining moment in clinical psychology training occurred during the Vail Conference in 1973 with the approval of a different training model. In addition to the Boulder model, the Vail model, referred to as the scholar-practitioner model, was approved.
This version proposed that clinical training would stress providing professional psychological services while focusing less on training in research. Additionally, the symposium confirmed the concept that graduate education need not take place only in the leading universities’ psychology departments but could also occur in self-supporting certified psychology institutes. Last, the committee recognized the PsyD degree as an alternate to the PhD degree (Plante, 2011). Currently, clinical psychology has progressed to treatment prototypes that focus on observation, experiments, and evidence-based practices using cognitive-behavioral systems for therapeutic intervention. “The Task Force on Promotion and Dissemination of Psychological Procedures (1995) of the APA Division of Clinical Psychology (Division 12)” (Plante, 2011, p. 72) established procedures for psychotherapy grounded on concrete research conclusions. Research and Statistics
Research and statistics are all important for basing all branches of clinical psychology on evidence from gathered statistics. In fact, research forms the very foundation of clinical psychology. Clinical psychologists may perform research in various settings, such as hospitals, private clinics, schools and colleges, in the armed forces, and in occupational settings. Many clinical psychologists use surveys and others may conduct experiments with humans and animals as well, in a research laboratory (Plante, 2011). To ascertain if research premises are verifiable, probability and statistical significance are routinely used in psychology as well as in other areas of science. Statistical significance denotes the minute likelihood of a scientific conclusion happening by mistake or serendipity. The principle is this: “if there is less than a 5 in 100 times chance that the means of two groups come from the same population, then the null hypothesis (i.e., no difference) is rejected and the hypothesis of the study is supported” (Plante, 2011, p. 96) To formulate evidence-based research-driven practice, it is essential to conduct meaningful research studies and based on their findings, implement effective treatment programs for psychotherapy.
“Basic and applied research provides many of the clues to important questions about diagnosis, treatment, and general human behavior” (Plante, 2011, p. 73). As well as the benefits of accruing results of application discipline on Evidence-Based-Practice, education in retrieving and employing excellent accessible research should take place concurrently. This can be accomplished by requesting assistance from college level experienced practitioners and by regularly training graduate students. In conclusion, psychologists, regardless of professional venue and specialization must welcome EBP when it is presented accurately, “not as adhering to a disembodied list of approved treatment methods, but as the thoughtful integration of the best available research with clinical expertise in the context of patient characteristics, culture, and preferences” (Berke, Rozell, Hogan, Norcross, & Karpiak, 201, p. 338). Differences in Mental Health Professions
A clinical psychologist is required to receive a Ph.D. or Psy.D and also finalize an internship in clinical psychology. Clinical psychologists are trained to identify and treat psychological conditions and implement psychological analysis. In some states they may prescribe medication. Alternatively, a psychiatrist has attained a medical degree and successfully completed a residency in psychiatry and is qualified to administer psychotherapy and prescribe drugs. A psychiatrist may also hospitalize patients for psychological conditions. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor trained to diagnose and treat diseases, infections, and viruses of the human body. However, after receiving a medical degree, these doctors advance to the more specialized degree of psychiatry and are able to treat patients with psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, phobias, depression, and schizophrenia and prescribe anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, and other medications for patients (Plante, 2011).
In most states, social workers must have a master’s degree as a minimum requirement and also complete supplementary training to pass accreditation examinations as a licensed clinical social worker, or LCSW. After completing the required education, they may identify and treat psychological disorders, and are often influential in helping individuals with family issues or abuse disorders find community facilities to arrange for continuing support. Social workers frequently function as contacts with medical facilities, clinics, or schools. However, as of 2009, 18 states have no certification criterions for social workers who work in the public school area. “Only 20 states require a Masters of Social Work degree for certification; 10 require a Bachelors of Social Work degree; New York requires only a Bachelor of Arts degree in any discipline. Eighteen states specify coursework as part of their degree requirements” (Altshuler, 2009, p. 213).
On the other hand, the criteria for school psychologists have changed dramatically over the past few decades. According to Berke, Rozell, Hogan, Norcross, and Karpiak (2011), “The data [shows] that… a small percentage of school psychologists were reported to hold only a bachelor’s degree in 1969-1970, [however] these individuals had almost disappeared…by 1999-2000. In addition, the percentage of school psychologists who held a specialist degree or higher increased…from 5.2% to 58.5% during this same period of time” (p. 53). In certain states, such as Texas, licensure is currently a mandatory requirement to apply as a school psychologist in schools (Berke et al., 2011). It is probable that this increase in more educated school psychologists is a direct result of the influence of the American Psychological Association and its promotion of doctoral-level education for psychological professions. Conclusion
It is important to note that clinical psychology practitioners and scholars have to work intensely in developing theories for various professional practices. These models are carried out in treatment of clients based on the results from research studies, when they were tested, and more important, to determine various factors and their contributions or negative effects on the psychological well-being of clients. Thus, regarding the clinical psychology field, continual research is very important and should not be underemphasized or ignored for effectiveness and advancement in the field.
Altshuler, S. (2009). School social work: Increasing the legitimacy of the profession. Children & Schools, 31(4), 207.
Berke, D. M., Rozell, C. A., Hogan, T. P., Norcross, J. C., & Karpiak, C. P. (2011). What clinical psychologists know about evidence-based practice: familiarity with online resources and research methods. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 67(4), 329-339. doi:10.1002/jclp.20775
Curtis, M. A. (2004). The changing face of school psychology: Trends in data and projections for the future. School Psychology Review, 33(1), 49.
Plante, T. G. (2011). Contemporary clinical psychology (3rd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.