Clinical Psychology is a branch of psychology that is responsible for the investigation of all factors, evaluation, diagnosis, treatment and prevention that affect mental health and adaptive behavior, in conditions that can generate subjective discomfort and suffering for the human individual.
Clinical Psychology has some primary theoretical orientations: Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Therapy, Psychoanalytic or Psychodynamic, Humanistic Therapy, Existential Therapy and Systemic Family Therapy. Central practices of this discipline are the diagnosis of psychological disorders and psychotherapy, as well as research, teaching, consultation, forensic testimony, and program development and administration.
The main mission of Clinical Psychology is to attend to people who experience psychological distress of different kinds and intensities.
Among other things, a psychologist specialized in this field has the ability to diagnose mental health disorders, based on methodological and scientific principles, to then treat, solve and mitigate their negative impact.
Mainly, experts in this area face these problems through psychotherapy, a practice that promotes behavioral changes, development of psychological identity and the well-being of individuals in general.
Also, specialists in Clinical Psychology can provide mental health services based on parameters and principles from psychological fields or schools such as cognitive, behavioral, humanistic and systematic family therapy.
Now that you have a notion about what this discipline is all about, let’s look at its history!
The origins of clinical psychology, at least as it is conceived today, go back to the end of the 19th century.
At this time, a disciple of Wilhelm Wundt, one of the fathers of modern psychology, opened the first exclusively psychological clinic of which there is a solid reference.
This disciple, named Lightner Witmer, created this place to directly attend to people who presented behavioral traits and unbalanced and strange thought patterns, leaving in a second place the classic research and experimentation work of the time.
Of course, this clinic was the result of studies and conclusions of many other academics, which allowed us to overcome old paradigms and define more effective and humane methods to treat mental health problems.
Since then, the development of clinical psychology has been such that today it has different areas and mechanisms of intervention.
Before mentioning the applications of this branch of psychology, it is important to clarify that, although it deals with mental health problems and disorders, it is different from psychiatry.
The main difference between these disciplines is that clinical psychologists do not prescribe psychotropic drugs, but rather base their treatments on scientific and philosophical principles, while psychiatrists do, since their training is based on medicine.
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