Clinical Psychology: History and Nature


The purpose of this essay is to examine basic elements of Clinical Psychology. It focuses on history and evolving nature of the discipline, the role of research and statistics and the difference between Clinical Psychology and other related disciplines. The major developments in Clinical Psychology were noted during the period of Sigmund Freud. Later, Clinical Psychology has become a prominent discipline because of emerging scientific evidence and its relations with other subjects. As researchers focus on finding new evidence, Clinical Psychology has also evolved in a similar manner based on empirical evidence that supports it principles for human interventions. While some variations exist between Clinical Psychology and other related disciplines, they all focus on enhancing quality of human life and health outcomes.

The history and evolving nature of clinical psychology

It is believed that Clinical Psychology emanated in 1896 and it was championed by Lightner Witmer (Benjamin, 2007). However, there are historical anecdotes to suggest that Clinical Psychology emerged long in Greek history and was associated with prominent contemporary thinkers of the time.

In the Middle Ages, cases of mental health were noted and taken seriously. Past practices were characterized by spirit, supernatural and religious approaches, but these practices changed during the Renaissance period when scientific methods were adopted in Clinical Psychology (Benjamin, 2005). Scientific approaches to Clinical Psychology led to well understood elements of the illness than the previous beliefs.

Sigmund Freud and associates focused on human mind and body to understand their dynamics from a holistic perspective. This would aid in comprehending ill health and other abnormal behaviors. Freud’s psychoanalytic concept has continued to shape modern psychological practices.

By 1879, psychologists had already started to practice Clinical Psychology to solve human ailment. After the World Wars, Clinical Psychology became relevant, but it was first applied as a tool for psychometric assessment of soldiers. Later, war veterans who had mental problems had to seek assistance from clinical psychologists.

Clinical Psychology is an evolving profession. Today, it is a robust field in both clinical practice and academic engagement. It has gained recognition in assessment of mental health and psychotherapy interventions. In addition, Benjamin (2005) notes that the field as expanded to focus on “gerontology, sports, and the criminal justice system” (p. 1). Knowledge in the field has expanded and therefore resulted in better clinical outcomes (Nicholas & Stern, 2011).

The role of research and statistics in clinical psychology

Scientific research is the foundation of any scientific disciplines such as Clinical Psychology. Scientific results have allowed the field to evolve. In addition, research evidence offers solutions to fundamental concepts that have defined Clinical Psychology practices and learning. Moreover, research and statistics are responsible for the history and evolving nature of the field.

Statistics is a critical component of any of scientific study. Researchers have relied on statistics to understand correlations between variables and determine whether they are statistically significant and can be generalized to a larger population. Research findings support Clinical Psychology interventions by promoting best practices, determining effectiveness of diagnoses and treatments and promoting the use of appropriate interventions. From scientific approaches and statistically significant outcomes, the field has recorded improvements because of using evidence-based practices. Consequently, psychologists can apply treatment methods that have been scientifically proven as effective and reliable.

Researchers may adopt different research designs to study their patients. However, all these designs offer different unique advantages, while study participants and available knowledge could influence their choices. Scientific studies must be void of bias for credibility and reliability. In addition, researchers ensure that they observe ethical practices during field experiments.

Today, Clinical Psychology has focused on applying current scientific knowledge to enhance quality of care and outcomes. Science gives it credibility as a modern field clinical practice, treatment and study.

Future practices in Clinical Psychology are likely to be influenced by new scientific discoveries and technologies. Such new knowledge will improve psychological practices for human health and promote collaboration with other disciplines.

The differences between clinical psychology and other mental health professions, including social work, psychiatry, and school psychology

Generally, there are minimal differences between Clinical Psychology and other related fields. Specifically, differences exist in training, areas of focus and academic rigor.

School psychology focuses on emotional, academic and social health of children and teenagers in a learning environment. Practitioners usually have Master’s degree, but others with advanced training may also practice. Educational psychologists have advanced training in education, psychology of learning, teaching, child development and behaviors. They assess learning outcomes, offer therapies, design intervention programs, work with teachers and meet other related roles within the school environment.

Clinical social work involves assessment of social challenges, causes and solutions. Social workers with appropriate training offer psychological counseling besides their normal duties. Clinical social workers have Masters in Social Work, but requirements for accreditation vary across different states. Emphasis is put on academic training, practicum and experiences. Candidates must pass set standards and depict deep clinical knowledge and aspects of ethical practices.

Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology are closely linked because they both focus on mental health. However, these fields differ in terms of training and methods of interventions. Psychiatrists may work alongside physicians and apply medical approaches to evaluate their patients. Psychiatrists consider their patients as ill and use psychotropic interventions to handle such cases. Clinical psychologists and psychiatrists may also perform physical assessment of patients and evaluate laboratory results, including x-rays and scans. Clinical psychologists do not prescribe medication to their clients because of additional training and qualification required for such roles (Newman, 2013). Generally, psychologists get extensive education in research, psychology and interventions relative to their psychiatrist counterparts.

Counseling psychology also depends on similar techniques and treatment methods applied in clinical psychology. Conventionally, counseling psychology has concentrated on individuals with normal or mild cases of psychological issues, such as anxiety, mood and others because of sudden changes in life. The field also requires training in career evaluation, counseling and therapy as opposed to clinical psychology that focuses on complicated mental health issues like dementia.

The field of counseling psychology has few graduate courses relative to Clinical Psychology. In addition, they may be found in education departments. Counseling psychologists are also found in institutions of higher learning to offer services to students.


This essay has examined basic elements of Clinical Psychology. It has looked at major developments, evolution, the role of research and statistics in Clinical Psychology and its association with other disciplines of psychology.

It shows that Clinical Psychology emanated during the period of Greek philosophers and has gained recognition because of constant research findings. Research and statistics are responsible for its evolving nature, better practices, current knowledge and possible future knowledge and roles.

Clinical Psychology is closely related to other disciplines of psychology. The major differences have been noted in training, areas of focus or application and levels of engagement. Nevertheless, all these fields of psychology work to promote human well-being and could collaborate for improved outcomes.


Benjamin, L. Jr. (2005). A history of clinical psychology as a profession in America (and a glimpse at its future). Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 1, 1–30. Web.

Benjamin, L. Jr. (2007). A brief history of modern psychology. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Newman, A. (2013). Could prescribing be part of the clinical psychologist’s role? The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, 8(1), 26-34.

Nicholas, D., & Stern, M. (2011). Counseling psychology in clinical health psychology: The impact of specialty perspective. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 42(4), 331-337. Web.

Video Voice-over

Cite this paper

Select style


PsychologyWriting. (2023, August 23). Clinical Psychology: History and Nature. Retrieved from


PsychologyWriting. (2023, August 23). Clinical Psychology: History and Nature.

Work Cited

"Clinical Psychology: History and Nature." PsychologyWriting, 23 Aug. 2023,


PsychologyWriting. (2023) 'Clinical Psychology: History and Nature'. 23 August.


PsychologyWriting. 2023. "Clinical Psychology: History and Nature." August 23, 2023.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Clinical Psychology: History and Nature." August 23, 2023.


PsychologyWriting. "Clinical Psychology: History and Nature." August 23, 2023.