Clinical psychology is the application of psychology to the understanding, treatment and assessment of psychopathology, behavioural or mental health issues. It has traditionally been associated with counselling and psychotherapy, although modern clinical psychology may take an eclectic approach, including a number of therapeutic approaches. Typically, although working with many of the same clients as psychiatrists, clinical psychologists do not prescribe psychiatric drugs. Clinical psychologists largely work within the ‘scientist-practictioner model’ where clinical problems are formulated as hypotheses to be tested as information is gathered about the patient and their mental state. Some clinical psychologists may focus on the clinical management of patients with brain injury. This is known as clinical neuropsychology and typically involves additional training in brain function.
In recent years and particularly in the United States, a major split has been developing between academic research psychologists in universities and some branches of clinical psychology. Many academic psychologists believe that these clinicians use therapies based on discredited theories and unsupported by empirical evidence of their effectiveness. From the other side, these clinicians believe that the academics are ignoring their experience in dealing with actual patients. The disagreement has resulted in the formation of the American Psychological Societyby the research psychologists as a new body distinct from the American Psychological Association.