Clinical Psychology


Psychology is the science in charge of studying human behavior. One of its branches is clinical psychology whose focus is primarily on the mind and its relationship with the functioning of the body. It helps to diagnose behavioral, cognitive, emotional disorders and other physical problems.


What is clinical psychology?

The  clinical psychology  is a science dedicated to researching everything related to mental health . It determines which factors are likely to affect it, and helps to make the diagnosis and indicate the appropriate treatment. Something very important is that it works according to the prevention of these factors, reducing to the maximum the probability of the appearance of abnormal behaviors.



It is a discipline of general psychology that scientifically studies the mental health of individuals, addressing psychological problems and abnormal behaviors that disturb and alter their development in the personal, family, and work areas. These behaviors can generate some form of psychosocial disability and cause significant discomfort in individuals. However, it is necessary to know that the psychological problems studied are not mental pathologies.


Characteristics of clinical psychology

  • It constitutes a field of specialization of psychology . The postulates on which it is based have been scientifically derived.
  • It is obligatorily practiced by experts in psychology.
  • Integrates clinical psychology and health psychology. The first in charge of the study of the mind. The second of the psychological abnormalities related to health in general .
  • It is applied individually and widely.
  • It considers the normal behaviors of people with the intention of maintaining them for their well-being.
  • It has different areas of study.
  • His treatments are carried out through psychotherapies.
  • It works in an integrated way with other sciences and disciplines to adequately address, understand and intervene the human mentality.


  • It was in the second half of the 19th century, specifically in 1879, when Wilhelm Wundt, in Germany, instituted the first Laboratory of Psychology.
  • In 1885 it was the opening of the first center for mental measurement by Galton It was founded on the psychology of individual differences.
  • In 1895 Alfred Binet’s first psychodiagnostic laboratory was established.
  • Between the years 1895 and 1896, Sigmund Freud with his theory of psychoanalysis, carried out psychotherapeutic intervention practices. During them he presented clinical theoretical approaches constituting the elementary criteria of applied clinical psychology.
  • In the same 1896, Lightmer Witmer at the University of Pennsylvania started the first psychological clinic, establishing clinical psychology officially at this time.


In 1896 both Sigmund Freud and Lightmer Witmer endorsed psychodiagnosis and research as the most recognized indicators of clinical psychology. They included treatment as a primary function. His studies were fundamental for the emergence of this discipline later recognized as science.

Clinical psychology was called in its beginning as psychological clinic. By then it was characterized by being very close to social service. In the first decades of the 20th century, he emphasized psychological evaluation, minimizing the attention given to treatment.

In 1907, Lighter Witmer launched the first psychological journal at the University of Pennsylvania . By the end of the 1930s, the field of modern clinical psychology was established. After World War II , the imminent need for clinical psychologists led to the rise of this science. It was in 1945 that clinical psychology was recognized in the United States.

In 1950, events such as the emergence of behavior therapy and the progress of cognitive-behavioral therapy, fueled its most momentous developments. Likewise, the set of therapeutic techniques and the respective evaluation and diagnostic instruments to address the different problem behaviors were increased.

Who is the father of clinical psychology

Lightmer Witmer is recognized as the founder of clinical psychology. He was the creator of the first magazine on the subject in which he published the first research related to this discipline. In Europe such merit is shared with Sigmund Freud who also dedicated himself arduously to work on psychoanalysis.

What is it for

Clinical psychology serves to develop four important processes conducive to achieving the well-being and psychological balance of people who suffer from a mental disorder and abnormal or maladaptive behaviors. They are prevention , evaluation, diagnosis and intervention .

It investigates how these problems appear, why they remain and what psychological mechanisms exist at their base. Likewise, it designs tools and resources for the detection of the disorder and the prognosis of the situation.

What do you study

It studies the human mind and behavior , especially problem behaviors which are classified after determining their underlying etiological factors. It proceeds to the diagnosis and subsequent therapeutic intervention in order to help the patient to recover his psychological balance. In this way, behaviors that are self-destructive or capable of affecting others are avoided.


The main goals of clinical psychology are:

  • Study the human mind for diagnosis, treatment and research in the field of psychological disorders.
  • To restore mental balance to people with disorders that cause them disturbance and suffering.
  • Develop treatment protocols based on the principles of learning, cognitive science, and other behavioral sciences.


  • Investigate and identify psychosocial risk factors .
  • Issue a diagnosis of mental disorders and disorders
  • Develop psychotherapeutic intervention programs .
  • Apply intervention programs through psychotherapeutic techniques and procedures.
  • Establish intra and interdisciplinary networks.
  • Intervene in individual, family and community crisis situations.

Areas of clinical psychology

Its field of action is very extensive, ranging from minor disorders associated with the interrelation of people with their environment, to older ones that totally unbalance the personality. Clinical psychologists work in addition to the health area, in the areas of education, sports, social integration for people at risk of exclusion such as people with disabilities, in crisis situations, emergencies, among others.

Fields and applications of clinical psychology

Currently there are multiple areas and applications, such as:

  • Adult clinical psychology.
  • Child psychology or clinical psychology.
  • Intervention in families.
  • Community psychology
  • Psychooncology.
  • Clinical neuropsychology.
  • Neuropsychological rehabilitation.
  • Psychological evaluation.


The term psychology according to the words that make it up, means study of the soul and spirit . From this conception, psychology was rejected as a science because it did not study something observable and verifiable. It was for this reason that the scientific community carried out various investigations in order to grant it the validity and reliability that all its branches have today.

At first clinical psychology was totally dependent on psychiatry . It gradually evolved until it was properly grounded in a psychological approach, which allowed the development and application of psychotherapies as forms of treatment.


  • Gestalt theory
  • Behavioral stimulus-response theory
  • Theory of psychoanalysis
  • Cognitive Theory
  • Theory of cognitive dissonance
  • Cognitive-behavioral model.


Clinical psychology is of significant importance because through its work it contributes to improving people’s quality of life, which has a positive effect on society as a whole.

In addition to reducing psychological disturbances that make it difficult to adapt to the environment , it helps people to improve somatic states. These are more altered when they are psychologically disturbed, anxious, stressed like hypertension.

It is also applied to develop personal and social skills in any subject useful for the establishment of more adaptive, constructive and satisfactory behavior patterns.


Among the precursors and representatives of clinical psychology are: Lightmer Witmer, Sigmund Freud, Carl Justav Jung, Carl Rogers, Hans Heycent Albert Ellis, Aaron Beck, Lev Vygotsky, Jean Piaget, BF SKinner, Abraham Maslow, Albert Bandura.


Some examples of disorders that are addressed by clinical psychology are the following:

  • Mood disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Hypochondria
  • Sexual disorders
  • Sleep disorders
  • Addictions
  • Phobias

 Books on clinical psychology

  • Gender Violence: Psychological and Legal Treatise. Authors Francisca Fariña, Ramón Arcé and Alberto Vuela-Casal (Eds.)
  • Clinical Psychology of Children and Adolescents: Clinical Aspects, Evaluation and Intervention. Author María Teresa González. PYRAMID.
  • Emotional Healing : End Stress, Anxiety and Depression without Drugs or Psychoanalysis. Author David Servan-Schreiber. POCKET key.
  • Neurocognition, Social Cognition and Metacognition in Psychosis . Author Carlos Rebolleda.
  • Practical Manual of Clinical Psychological Evaluation . Practical Manual of Clinical Psychological Evaluation. Authors Muñoz López, Manuel Ausín Benito, Berta Panadero Herrero, Sonia
  • Psychological Treatments for Psychosis . Author Eduardo Fonseca Pedrero
  • Data Analysis in Psychology . Authors Guárdia J. Freixa. Peró M.Turbany, J.
  • Mental symptoms . Author Femi Oyebode.

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