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Clinical Psychology

Clinical psychology is used to assess, diagnose, treat, and prevent several different types of disorders. This article defines clinical psychology, explains who may benefit from clinical psychology and what types of clinical psychology is available to help with behavior disorders.

There are a number of different types of psychology practice. One type is clinical psychology, and this is the largest specialty within the field psychology (i.e., the one with the most members).  Clinical psychologists usually are part of a practice in which they see patients, although clinical psychologists may also teach at universities or colleges and/or engage in research studies. Their work involves assessing, diagnosing, treating, and preventing mental disorders. All practicing psychologists must have a master's or doctorate degree from an institution that has been accredited, have competed a specified term of fieldwork, and must have passed the state licensing examination. 

Clinical psychologists may see patients in private offices, or work in hospitals, or other places that deliver medical services, such as rehabilitation centers for people with physical problems or addiction issues, mental health centers, or the offices of crisis counseling services. They may offer individual therapy, family therapy, group therapy, and the therapeutic approach may be cognitive-behavioral therapy or psychodynamic therapy, for example. Clinical psychology may assist people with a variety of disorders, including mood disorders, such as depression, mental health issues facing a certain population, such as children or the elderly, and treatment of behavior disorders.

Clinical psychology has ways to address the behavior disorders that are in the DSM-IV TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, Text Revision) listing "Attention-Deficit and disruptive behavior disorders" as well as other disorders that are otherwise classified, but have an impact on a person's behavior. In the first group are the various forms of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD), Conduct Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), and Disruptive Behavior Disorder NOS (Not Otherwise Specified). Other mental health issues that involve behavior (according to the DSM-IV-TR hierarchy) include Antisocial behavior.

Clinical psychology can also address the issues identified by ICD-10 (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th Revision (ICD-10) as being behavior related, which are farm more than in the DSM-IV-TR. The ICD-10 includes these categories:

• Mental and behavioral disorders due to psychoactive substance use—This includes intoxication, withdrawal, and other disorders involving behavior and substance abuse, for example.

• Behavioral syndromes associated with physiological disturbances and physical factors—This includes eating disorders, non-organic sleep disorders, sexual dysfunction, and post-partum depression, for example.

• Disorders of adult personality and behavior—This includes personality disorders, habit and impulse disorders, such as pathological gambling, stealing, and fire setting, and Munchausen syndrome, for example.

• Behavioral and emotional disorders with onset usually occurring in childhood and adolescence—This includes Attention deficit syndrome with hyperactivity, conduct disorders, and disorders of social functioning, for example.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has been found to be particularly effective with certain behavior disorders identified under both classification systems, such as eating disorders, cocaine abuse, and insomnia.





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