Clinical psychology is currently the most popular and predominant specialization within psychology. It was not always this way. The beginning of psychology as a distinct profession is typically dated to the founding of Wilhelm Wundt’s Psychological Institute in 1879. Wundt might today be classified more specifically as a cognitive or perceptual psychologist. In any case, clinical psychology was not a central or important interest of most of the early, original European or American psychologists who studied with Wundt.
By the time of the first meeting of the American Psychological Association (APA) in 1892, only a minority of American psychologists would be described as having interests consistent with today’s clinical psychologists. The beginning of the explicit specialization of clinical psychology is often attributed to the child psychologist Lightner Witmer, who is credited with founding the first psychological clinic in Pennsylvania in 1896, analogous to the founding of the first laboratory by Wundt. Witmcr called for the development of a profession of clinical psychology in the prescient inaugural issue of his journal, The Psychological Clinic (Witmer, 1907). However, as indicated by the psychology historian Benjamin (1996), “his words often fell on deaf ears” .
Nevertheless, for many years, many clinical (and other applied) psychologists met and worked largely outside of the mainstream of the A PA. It was not until World War II that the potential benefits and contributions of a profession of clinical psychology became readily apparent to the APA and to the federal government, resulting in the substantial reorganization of the APA to provide more explicit empowerment of the applied, clinical psychologist. Clinical psychologists who had previously been members of the American Association of Applied Psychology (AAAP) became members of the APA, and the Journal of Consulting Psychology (founded in 1937 by the AAAP) was added to the set of official APA journals, eventually becoming the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.
The specialty of clinical psychology grew rapidly during the postwar years to the point that a strong majority of psychologists would now identify themselves as being clinical psychologists, and this growth has been evident with respect both to the study of psychopathology and to its treatment. “What began as a laboratory science to understand the nature of mind helped to evolve a companion profession to understand (he problems of mind and to develop techniques to alleviate those problems”
This eighth volume of the Handbook of Psychology is devoted precisely to these primary concerns of the clinical psychologist: understanding the problems of the mind and the techniques lor alleviating these problems, along with issues of particular importance to the profession of clinical psychology. We have attempted to provide within this volume a strong representation of what is currently known about the etiology, pathology, and treatment of psychopathology, as well as the likely future of its science and treatment.
The first nine chapters are concerned with the diagnosis, course, etiology, and pathology of the problems of the mind; the next ten chapters are concerned with their treatment; and the concluding five chapters are concerned with professional issues. It should be noted that no chapter deals with assessment, a traditional area of strength for clinical psychology. This is because assessment is covered extensively in another volume of the Handbook.
Similarly, attention to research is incorporated in each of the chapters, but there are no chapters solely concerned with research methods because those, too, are covered elsewhere.