Clinical Psychology – Treating Abnormal Behaviour

     Clinical psychology is one field of psychology that deals with the understanding and treatment of abnormal behaviour. It is broad field that includes both practice and research. A clinical psychologist diagnoses and treats patients with psychological problems, and also trains, teaches, and conducts research in a hospital, clinic, school or office. In doing so, a clinical psychologist will apply the principles of psychology to assessment, prevention and rehabilitation of psychological distress, disability, dysfunctional behaviour and health risk behaviour.

     A clinical psychologist is required to have received a PhD or PsyD before they may practice, which includes 4 to 6 years in graduate school and at least one year spent in clinical internships.

     In approaching human problems clinical psychologists use a broad approach consisting of assessment, diagnosis, consultation, treatment, program development, administration and research. Clinical psychologists seek to develop and use a classification system of abnormal behaviour, to understand abnormal behaviour and its causes, and to find cures for abnormal behaviour. They cater to a broad population including children, adolescents, adults, the elderly, families, groups and disadvantaged groups. For example, a clinical psychologist must determine whether the behaviour that an individual exhibits is only a little unordinary, or whether it is abnormal in a way that will cause the individual problems. As well, once this factor has been determined the psychologist must determine how to go about treating someone who exhibits abnormal behaviour.

     Clinical psychologists will use case studies, experimentation and testing to determine the above. Case studies are used in clinical work , as the client and the psychologist deal directly with each other. A case study is the investigation of a single individual that is conducted in order to draw general conclusions about the behaviour of that person. Case studies are essential for understanding the problems that people face and the best route of treatment for them.

     Within their diagnosis process, the clinical psychologist uses scales, known as “clinical scales.” As well, many psychologists are involved in the production of these scales and in improving the validity and reliability of them. Clinical scales measure abnormal behaviours that may be by-products of problems such as depression, hysteria, paranoia, schizophrenia and social introversion (shyness).

     Clinical psychologists that work in the diagnosis and treatment of abnormal behaviour can be considered mental health professionals that practice”psychotherapy.” Psychotherapy is a formal relationship between a professional and an individual who is seeking help for their psychological problems.

     Ethical standards are important in clinical psychology. A psychologist must conduct their activities in a highly ethical manner, and are required to be familiar with the ethical standards relevant to their activities. Some ethical matters that may be considered include confidentiality, guidelines in counseling women and children and guidelines in using animals in research for psychology.

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