Psychology is the scientiﬁc study of behaviour. It may be applied in various settings including education, industry and health care. Clinical psychology is concerned with the practical application of research ﬁndings in the ﬁelds of physical and mental health. Training in clinical psychology involves a degree in psychology followed by postgraduate training. Clinical psychologists are speciﬁcally skilled in applying theoretical models and objective methods of observation and measurement, and in therapeutic interventions aimed at changing patients’ dysfunctional behaviour, including thoughts and feelings as well as actions. Dysfunctional behaviour is explained in terms of normal processes and modiﬁed by applying principles of normal learning, adaption and social interaction.
Clinical psychologists are involved in health care in the following ways: (1) Assessment of thoughts, emotions and behaviour using standardised methods. (2) Treatment based on theoretical models and scientiﬁc evidence about behaviour change. Behaviour change is considered when it contributes to physical, psychological or social functioning. (3) Consultation with other health-care professionals about problems concerning emotions, thinking and behaviour. (4) Research on a wide variety of topics including the relationship between stress, psychological functioning and disease; the aetiology of problem behaviours; methods and theories of behaviour change. (5) Teaching other professionals about normal and dysfunctional behaviour, emotions and functioning.
Clinical psychologists may specialise in work in particular branches of patient care, including surgery, psychiatry, geriatrics, paediatrics, mental handicap, obstetrics and gynaecology, cardiology, neurology, general practice and physical rehabilitation. Whilst the focus of their work is frequently the patient, at times it may encompass the behaviour of the health-care professionals.