Clinical Psychology: Meaning and Significance

The field of Clinical Psychology is an exciting and growing one. It encompasses both research and practice related to psychopathology and mental health. Understanding, treating, and preventing mental health problems is the business of clinical psychologists. Through the use of psychological tests, interviews, observations of behavior, and various forms of psychological treatment (e.g. cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, marital/family therapy), clinical psychologists are on the front line in the treatment of mental health problems.

Clinical psychology is the largest single specialty within psychology that deals with principles and skills applied outside the laboratory. It is by no means all applied psychology, which includes industrial, educational, organizational, military, and several other specialties. Clinical psychologists excel at predicting human behavior based on their knowledge of emotional processes and how these can be influenced by environmental variables such as culture and environment. They are experts at encouraging people to change their behavior for the better.

What is Clinical Psychology?

"The area of clinical psychology entails research, teaching, and services related to the applications of concepts, techniques, and procedures for understanding, predicting, and relieving intellectual, emotional, biological, psychological, social, and behavioral maladjustment, impairment, and discomfort, applied to a wide variety of client population."

The study, diagnosis, and treatment of patients with mental diseases and other psychological problems are the focus of clinical psychology, a subfield of psychology.

Clinical psychology is the discipline that studies, diagnoses, and treats those who have psychological difficulties adjusting to their environment and to themselves. The work of clinical psychologists encompasses both typical and unusual behavior. They aid in the diagnosis and treatment of mental diseases by conducting and interpreting psychological examinations. They also research how personalities are formed and evolve.

It applies psychological principles to the assessment, prevention, amelioration, and rehabilitation of psychological distress, disability, dysfunctional behaviors, and health-risk behaviors, as well as to the enhancement of psychological and physical well-being. Clinical psychology is a broad field of practice and research within the discipline of psychology.

The information gathered from each of these activities has an impact on practice and research in the field of clinical psychology. Clinical psychology includes both scientific research, which focuses on the search for general principles, and clinical service, which focuses on the analysis and care of clients.

A comprehensive approach to human problems (both interpersonal and individual), clinical psychology includes assessment, diagnosis, consultation, treatment, program development, administration, and research with regard to a variety of populations, including children, adolescents, adults, the elderly, families, groups, and underprivileged individuals.

Therefore, clinical psychology makes use of what is understood about the fundamentals of human conduct to assist individuals with the various problems and worries they encounter throughout their lives in regard to their connections, emotions, and bodily selves. For instance, a clinical psychologist would assess a kid using intellectual and educational exams to see whether the child has an attentional or learning issue that could affect how well they do in school. A psychotherapist treating an adult suffering from acute depression after a recent divorce is another example. Clinical psychologists are interested in a variety of issues, including alcoholism, hallucinations, compulsive eating, sexual dysfunctions, physical abuse, suicidal thoughts, and brain traumas.

What does Clinical Psychology Focus on?

Individuals of all ages and from all areas of life can receive mental health treatments from clinical psychology. Techniques and methods might change from one practice to the next. Clinical psychology, however, focuses on evaluating clients' mental health through psychological testing and evaluation and offering the proper solutions. Clinical psychologists sometimes perform research and serve as consultants in addition to these main duties. The main duties of a clinical psychologist are detailed below −

  • Assessing − Clinical psychologists work in a similar manner to how physicians work to improve physical health when restoring mental health. They must first identify the issue and its root cause. Therefore, the clinical psychologist evaluates the client to determine the nature of the mental health problem. There are several methods to achieve this.

    • During a diagnostic interview, the clinical psychologist will pose questions that will allow the client to discuss themselves. These inquiries delve into the client's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors as well as how the past affects the present.

    • A clinical psychologist can watch and assess a client's behavior through a behavioral evaluation. A pattern of behavior that suggests the existence of a mental problem or sickness may be revealed by this examination.

    • It is possible to provide standardized psychological exams to assess a mental condition. These are official exams that are frequently administered as checklists and questionnaires.

  • Intervening − The practitioner will suggest a psychological intervention, or treatment, based on what the evaluations show. There are several therapeutic philosophies. Although there are some clinical psychologists who prefer one strategy over another, a client may be treated using a variety of strategies. Treatments call for several sessions regardless of the method chosen. After treatments are over, mental health maintenance programs frequently include sporadic follow-up appointments.

    • According to the cognitive-behavioral approach, a person's negative beliefs and actions are the root cause of many mental diseases. These are frequently revealed during "talk therapy" sessions with the mental health counselor, which entail frank discussion about possibly upsetting and traumatic prior events. The objective is to show the client how to identify emotional triggers and teach them positive responses to them.

    • The psychodynamic method emphasizes the unconscious mind while also assisting the client in becoming aware of harmful beliefs. The clinical psychologist aids the client in discovering and resolving prior difficulties through psychoanalysis.

    • The humanistic method is sometimes referred to as "client-centered treatment." It encourages acceptance, sensitivity, and the notion that the client is the only one who truly understands themselves. It also asserts that concentrating on the present is more crucial than recalling the past.

  • Consulting − Clinical psychologists frequently interact with other healthcare providers and organizations in addition to treating patients. They could be invited to lend a hand with community health projects or provide their experience in other ways.

  • Researching − Clinical psychologists frequently consult the most recent research while spending most of their time with clients. They could also carry out original research using the information they have gathered.

How does Clinical Psychology differ from other branches of Psychology?

Clinical psychology is distinct from other subfields of psychology even though it is connected to the rest of psychology through empirical study.

Clinical psychology is exceptional in that it is dedicated to using psychological research to improve people's well-being.

School psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, experimental psychology, social psychology, personality psychology, industrial or organizational psychology, physiological psychology, and so forth are other subfields of psychology outside clinical psychology.

They are not required to do an internship or postdoctoral fellowship, unlike clinical psychologists. Although they have a variety of specialties and abilities, they often do not diagnose or treat patients who are having emotional, behavioral, interpersonal, or other clinical issues. Clinical psychologists, however, deal with all of these issues.

They aren't seen as mental health experts as clinical psychologists are, and they might not even be interested in human behavior, like an experimental psychologist who studies how cats' memories work. The social behavior of monkey groups may be of interest to a social psychologist. How creatures like snails acquire new behaviors may be of interest to a physiological psychologist. Clinical psychologists work with human behavior in contrast.

Although these psychologists may be interested in human behavior, they may not be interested in aberrant or clinical issues. These psychologists do not treat clinical patients since they do not hold a license to practice psychology, with the exception of industrial-organizational psychology.


It applies psychological principles to the assessment, prevention, amelioration, and rehabilitation of psychological distress, disability, dysfunctional behavior, and health-risk behavior, as well as to the enhancement of psychological and physical well-being. Clinical psychology is a broad field of practice and research within the discipline of psychology.

The practical application of study findings and research techniques in the areas of mental and physical health is the focus of clinical psychology, a subfield of psychology.

Updated on: 02-Dec-2022

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