About Clinical Psychology
Clinical psychology is one of the major specialist professions involved in the care of individuals experiencing mental or physical health problems – which might include anxiety and depression, serious and enduring mental illness, adjustment to physical illness, addictive behaviours, post-traumatic stress disorder, personal and family relationships. It aims to reduce psychological distress and to enhance and promote psychological well-being.
Clinical psychologists differ from psychiatrists in that psychiatrists tend to manage mental health difficulties through the prescription of medication, whereas clinical psychologists work solely through the application of talking therapies. Other professionals such as counsellors and psychotherapists are also able to deliver talking therapies, however the unique strengths of a clinical psychologist are:
- training in multiple models of therapy enabling more individualised treatment
- doctoral level training including research methods
- statutory regulation by the Health and Care Professions Council
Clinical psychologists work in a variety of contexts, including with individuals, organisations and the courts. They work according to best practice guidelines such as those produced by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence and the Department of Health. As clinical psychologists, their practice is governed by the Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics of the Health Professions Council.
Prevalence of mental health problems
The Mental Health Foundation have collated the following statistics:
- Mental health problems are found in people of all ages, regions, countries and societies.
- 1 in 4 British adults experience at least one diagnosable mental health problem in any one year, and one in six experiences this at any given time. (The Office for National Statistics Psychiatric Morbidity report, 2001)
- Mixed anxiety & depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain, with almost 9 percent of people meeting criteria for diagnosis. (The Office for National Statistics Psychiatric Morbidity report, 2001)
- Between 8-12% of the population experience depression in any year (The Office for National Statistics Psychiatric Morbidity report, 2001)
These statistics illustrate just how common mental health difficulties are, and highlight how important awareness and a pro-active response to these issues are for individuals and organisations.