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March 11, 2006

What is Clinical Psychology?

Clinical psychology is the application of psychological theory and research to the alleviation of human problems in living. At one time, the term “mental illness” was used to describe the types of problems of interest to clinical psychologists, but this term no longer describes accurately the broad range of topics with which contemporary clinical psychologists are concerned. Today, clinical psychologists are interested not only in traditional “mental” or psychological problems such as schizophrenia and severe depression but also in more common but important problems in living such as fears, shyness, sexual problems, marital problems, and physical health and illness.

The broad array of topics studied by clinical psychologists makes it difficult to give a concise definition of the field, and considerable overlap can be seen between clinical psychology and other psychology specialties (e.g. learning, developmental, psychopathology, physiological). This overlap, however, is due largely to the fact that clinical psychology is the application of knowledge acquired from research by psychologists in many other specialties.

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