Clinical Psychology Bulimia Nervosa Term Paper

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Clinical Psychology / Bulimia Nervosa

The beginnings of clinical psychology date back to the year 1492, and it has changed from the mere treatment of mental illness to an entire field of research and experimentation, which has helped those individuals who have been affected by any form of mental disorders, like for example, the eating disorders like bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa prevalent among adolescent and twenty-year-old women all over the world, to overcome their habits so that they may lead better and more productive lives. Some of the more important names in the history of clinical psychology, who can be referred to as the founding fathers of the field, are Lightner Witmer and Wilhelm Wundt. It was their theories and methods that has paved the way for the clinical psychologists of today, who are today being trained to encompass more issues like the entire range of health care, for the individual who comes to them for the treatment of his disorders. The future of clinical psychology may be that it will come under the wide umbrella of health care for the individual, and come out its narrow confines of offering treatment for mental disorders only.

I. History of Clinical Psychology

It must be noted that the actual beginnings of clinical psychology as such can be attributed to Luis Vives, who lived during the years from 1492 to 1540. He can be called the precursor of modern psychology, but the official date of the foundation of clinical psychology may be the year 1879, when Wilhelm Wundt founded his clinical laboratory in the University of Leipzig. (Brief Institutional History of Clinical and Health Psychology)

I.A. Current definition of clinical psychology

Today, Clinical Psychology can be defined as the application of psychology to mental illnesses or abnormal behavior or behavioral problems in the human being's mind. It can also be defined as being the branch of psychology that has as its focus and emphasis the treatment of mental disorders of any kind, and of abnormal mentation and abnormal behavior. The actual term 'Clinical Psychology' was introduced by Lightner Witmer, the American psychologist, in a paper submitted in the year 1907. (Definitions of Clinical psychology on the Web)

However, there has been widespread criticism of the definition of clinical psychology today, and the reasons quoted for this is that the definition is much too broad and all encompassing to include many non-pathological behaviors and disorders within the scope of the definition. As a result of this, there have been quite a few alternative definitions for clinical psychology, and one of the better known definitions is that proposed by Wakefield, in the year 1992, when he termed mental disorder as being 'harmful dysfunction'. Bergner, in 1997, happened to endorse and to agree with a definition that had been proposed earlier by Ossorio, in the year 1985, wherein he had stated that psychopathology can be best defined as a 'significant restriction' on the very abilities and faculties of an individual, whereby he cannot engage in any form of deliberate actions; rather, he is not in control of his actions, and as a result, he cannot take part in all the prevalent social practices of the time with any amount of success. (Stricker; Widiger; Weiner, 2002)

In other words, it can be sated that clinical psychology is a broad field of research within the field of psychology, which applies the various psychological principles available, to the assessment or evaluation, the prevention or the preclusion, the amelioration and, finally, the rehabilitation and healing of the individual who has been undergoing psychological distress or trauma of any kind, so that the enhancement and the betterment of both his mental as well as physical well being is achieved at the end. (Definition of Clinical Psychology)

1. Original definition of clinical psychology

However, the original definition of clinical psychology may not have actually included all these terms within its scope of the definition; the field in itself developed in ways that the founder of clinical psychology Lightner Witmer may not have anticipated in the year 1896, when he opened the very first psychology clinic, and also founded the very first scholarly academic journal that was related to psychology, which was named 'The Psychological Clinic', and which was responsible for the training of quite a few of the very first generation of clinical psychologists of the world. One of the first cases of the world, as is popularly known today, is that of Charles Gilman, who was a school going child; with certain spelling difficulties. (Routh, 1996)

After treatment for visual difficulties, Witner was convinced that the field of psychology would indeed help such cases where any form of psychological treatment would be able to help the individual with great success. Therefore, it must be noted that Witner had as his primary emphasis the academic treatment of the so called 'retarded children', where retarded meant those delinquent children who were 'retarded' in their normal mental development, for any reasons whatsoever. This type of emphasis on children's academic problems has led to the development of school psychology at that time, and this was a major developmental stepping stone for the definition of clinical psychology in older times. (Routh, 1996)

I.B. Beginning of Clinical Psychology

The beginnings of clinical psychology can be again attributed to Lightner Witner. As mentioned earlier. It was in his first publication in a magazine called 'The Psychological Clinic'; entitled 'Clinical Psychology' that Witner explained the clinical method that he had been using in the treatment of his subjects, in what has been known to the world as the very beginnings of clinical psychology. This method was to perform small experiments on his subjects, or 'cases' as he referred to them, so that the attending psychologist could well understand the basic nature of the patient's difficulties. As time went on, Witner began to understand more in his chosen field, and this was when he started to conduct educational experiments, wherein he stated that the best approach was to 'teach to weaknesses. Even though today both Witner's Clinic and also his Journal do not exist any more, his conception of what clinical psychology actually is, and its beginnings, must of course, be attributed to this great man. (Lightner Witner and the Beginning of Clinical Psychology)

1. Scientific-Practitioner Model

The Scientist-Practitioner Model' is also popularly known as the Boulder Model of clinical psychology, and this is the model that has been widely acknowledged as one of the first models for training in clinical psychology. The scientist-practitioner model for graduate education in psychology was in actuality the end result of more than seventy three educators and others discussing a practical and the best sort of educational program meant for doctoral psychology programs, in a Conference held in order to discuss the explosive growth of clinical psychology during the years after the Second World War. The several professionals who were in the field at that time stated that they felt that the existing traditional graduate training programs for doctoral psychology programs were in fact quite insufficient and under developed, and that both clinicians as well as the faculty were being under trained. (Hodgson; Johnson; Ketring; Wampler; Lamson, 2005)

Therefore, when the Boulder Model was created, it was with the intention of teaching both clinical as well as research skills to the students and practitioners of clinical psychology. It was stated at the time that the scientist-practitioner model was in fact the 'mid-point in a continuum' that placed the emphasis on either research or on practice, wherein the very key to this model would be integration of both. As a matter of fact, it was an article in a journal of the American Psychological Association, Committee on Training in clinical Psychology of 1947 that provided the basic starting pint for this model of training, and accordingly, it was believed that there must be an integration of research, theory, and practice, throughout the candidate's research period. (Hodgson; Johnson; Ketring; Wampler; Lamson, 2005)

2. Reflective Practitioner Model

On the other hand, the 'Practitioner Scholar Model' of clinical psychology training believes in laying emphasis on the provision of the various skills that are necessary for the student so that the student may be able to think and analyze issues critically and would also be able to evaluate the findings of the research-based knowledge with their own acquired experience in the field. In other words, the interns are expected, throughout the year of their study, to both develop, as well as to use their thinking and analytical skills, and also their prior knowledge of scientific literature and so on in order to evaluate all their research findings as being a basis for their clinical interventions. The methods that are followed to encourage students to base their study on the practitioner scholar method are through case assignments, individual and also group supervisions, training seminars, mentoring and monitoring methods, in service training procedures, and so on and so forth. (Practitioner-Scholar Model: The Counseling Centre for Human Development, practitioner-scholar Model)

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