Clinical Psychology

Clinical psychology is essentially the branch of psychology that studies, assesses, and treats people with psychological problems or disorders. Clinical psychology involves rigorous study and applied practice directed toward understanding and improving the psychological facets of the human experience, including but not limited to issues or problems of behavior, emotions, or intellect (Pomerantz, 2011, p. 3).

American Psychological Association’s Division 12 (Society of Clinical Psychology; psychology) defined clinical psychology as: The field of Clinical Psychology integrates science, theory, and practice to understand, predict, and alleviate maladjustment, disability, and discomfort as well as to promote human adaptation, adjustment, and personal development. Clinical Psychology focuses on the intellectual, emotional, biological, psychological, social, and behavioral aspects of human functioning across the life span, in varying cultures, and at all socioeconomic levels.

Original Definition of Clinical Psychology

The term clinical psychology was first used in print by Lightner Witmer in 1907. Witmer was also the first to operate a psychological clinic. Witmer envisioned clinical psychology as a discipline with similarities to a variety of other fields, specifically medicine, education, and sociology. A clinical psychologist, therefore, was a person whose work with others involved aspects of treatment, education, and interpersonal issues. At his clinic, the first clients were children with behavioral or educational problems. However, even in his earliest writings, Witmer (1907) foresaw clinical psychology as applicable to people of all ages and with a variety of presenting problems (Pomerantz, 2011, p. 2-3). 


Pomerantz, A. M. (2011). Clinical psychology: Science, practice, and culture (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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