In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Clinical Psychology

  • Introduction
  • Textbooks
  • Information Sources

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Psychology Clinical Psychology
Joanna Berg, Rachel Ammirati, Scott O. Lilienfeld
  • LAST REVIEWED: 29 September 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 June 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0014


Clinical psychology is a broad discipline that focuses on the assessment, diagnosis, etiology (causes), treatment, and prevention of mental disorders. Many clinical psychologists work in practice settings and perform psychotherapy, assessment, or both; others conduct research and teach in academic settings, such as colleges, universities, and medical centers; still others perform a mix of clinical work, research, and teaching. Today, clinical psychology is a vibrant profession that has contributed substantially to our understanding of the measurement, diagnosis, causes, and treatment of a host of psychological conditions, including mood, anxiety, personality, psychotic, eating, and sleep disorders. More than two hundred clinical psychology graduate programs are recognized as formally accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA), and two major models of training continue to influence the field. The scientist-practitioner, or Boulder, model was launched following a 1949 conference at the University of Colorado at Boulder. This model, spearheaded by the psychologist David Shakow, is intended to train students broadly to become scientists, clinicians, or both, and encourages them to apply scientific thinking and knowledge to all aspects of their work. Most Boulder-model programs award the PhD degree. The scholar-professional, or Vail, model was launched following a 1973 conference in Vail, Colorado. This model substantially deemphasizes research training in the education of graduate students, and instead focuses on providing students with the knowledge and skills to operate as thoughtful and scholarly psychotherapists and assessors in clinical settings. Most Vail-model programs award the PsyD (doctor of psychology) degree. More recently, a third model, the clinical scientist model, was introduced by Indiana University clinical psychologist Richard McFall in the early 1990s. Although the meaning of this model continues to evolve, the clinical scientist model strongly emphasizes scientific training throughout all components of clinical psychology graduate-school programs. It insists that regardless of whether students become therapists, researchers, teachers, or consultants upon their graduation, they must be rigorous scientific thinkers. In 2008 proponents of the clinical scientist model initiated a new system for accrediting clinical psychology graduate programs; this new system, called the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS), will only accredit clinical psychology graduate programs that train rigorous clinical psychology researchers. The full impact of the PCSAS system on clinical psychology graduate training, and on the profession of clinical psychology at large, remains to be seen.


A number of excellent undergraduate and graduate clinical psychology textbooks are available. Although most include broad chapters that mirror the topics covered in this bibliography (e.g., history of clinical psychology; major theoretical models), Lilienfeld and O’Donohue 2007 focuses specifically on a selection of ideas that the authors deem integral to the field (and therefore may be best suited for more advanced students). Hunsley and Lee 2010 pays special attention to the important role of science in clinical psychology, and Pomerantz 2011 emphasizes the importance of cultural variables to the field. Kramer, et al. 2009 and Trull 2012 similarly provide readers with information on key aspects of clinical psychology (e.g., specialized areas within the field; controversial issues).

  • Hunsley, John, and Catherine M. Lee. 2010. Introduction to clinical psychology: An evidence-based approach. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

    A textbook, designed for undergraduates, that emphasizes the importance of science in clinical psychology. Major theories and practices pertinent to clinical psychology are evaluated with data. Issues related to diversity and development across the life span are also considered throughout the text.

  • Kramer, Geoffrey P., Douglas A. Bernstein, and Vicky Phares. 2009. Introduction to clinical psychology. 7th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

    A textbook appropriate for upper-level undergraduate and graduate students. The authors focus on information related to assessment and psychotherapy, while providing information on the history and future of clinical psychology, along with tips for getting into graduate school. Additional information is provided about specialty areas within the field, such as health psychology.

  • Lilienfeld, Scott O., and William T. O‘Donohue, ed. 2007. The great ideas of clinical science: 17 principles that every mental health professional should understand. New York: Routledge.

    An edited book appropriate for upper-level undergraduate and graduate students. The chapters emphasize core animating concepts in clinical psychology (e.g., psychotherapy can be evaluated scientifically) and focus on bridging the science-practice gap by applying research knowledge to clinical practice. The book begins with a chapter that argues for the necessity of science in clinical psychology as a means of minimizing and preventing human error.

  • Pomerantz, Andrew M. 2011. Clinical psychology: Science, practice, and culture. 2d ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

    A comprehensive overview of the field of clinical psychology. Issues related to science and culture are emphasized, and major elements of the field (e.g., assessment, psychotherapy, and research) are described. Like other textbooks, special topics are also discussed (e.g., psychotherapy with children and adolescents).

  • Trull, Timothy J, and Mitch J. Prinstein. 2012. Clinical Psychology. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

    The authors provides a comprehensive summary of key aspects of the field of clinical psychology, including history (e.g., the influence of Francis Galton), major roles and responsibilities (e.g., psychotherapy, research, and assessment), specialty areas (e.g., forensic and neuropsychology), and controversies and issues (e.g., clinical psychology’s status as a science).

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