Clinical Psychology

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The Clinical Psychology is a branch of psychology that the applied psychology matters. It scientifically investigates the biological, social, developmental and behavioral as well as cognitive and emotional foundations of mental disorders . The effects of these disorders and other physical illnesses (e.g. neurological disorders, cancer, chronic heart disease) on experience and behavior are also a subject of research.

Originally, it was about the psychological methods of diagnosis and therapy, insofar as they can be used in the clinic or hospital treatment. Thematically closely related to clinical psychology are medical psychology and neuropsychology . In Germany in particular, clinical psychology is defined very broadly. B. a separate branch of Counseling Psychology does not exist. The term and content of clinical psychology were made better known in the German-speaking area, in particular through Willy Hellpach and the Handbuch der clinical psychologie published by Erich Stern in 1954 .

Unlike clinical psychology, psychiatry and psychosomatic medicine are not sub-disciplines of psychology. Instead, they belong to medicine , where they represent thematically equivalent areas that differ from clinical psychology in essential points.

Subjects of clinical psychology

Whenever internal (psychological or physical) or external (environmental, social and so on) disturbances affect individuals, groups or systems, clinical psychology can use scientific methods and findings to determine the cause-effect relationships, conditions of effect and their effects examine the experience and behavior. She describes this z. B. in the form of diagnoses in order to derive explanations in the scientific process, to make predictions (scientifically informed prognoses) and to develop various possibilities for influencing (interventions). These interventions are application-oriented, in practice ideally taking into account other clinical diagnoses.

In clinical psychology, psychological research (especially with a scientific orientation), evaluation, scientifically founded and evidence-based approach with practical application form a unit. The training as well as the practical clinical-psychological professional activity follows the scientist-practitioner model . Clinical psychology is therefore not a purely practical psychology that only or primarily serves for diagnosis and treatment. In clinical psychology, too, controlled laboratory experiments play a central role in the process of gaining knowledge, but because of their unreality, i.e. H. lack of external validity increasingly criticized (e.g. Seligman, 1995).

Dealing with mental disorders (English "abnormal psychology") is also only a sub-area of clinical psychology. Clinical psychology comprises theoretical principles, methods and systems for the diagnosis and classification ( ICD-10 , DSM-5 ) of mental disorders, for their psychological treatment , for prevention and rehabilitation . It often overlaps with other applied areas of psychology and psychiatry. It is rooted in all areas of the method disciplines and the basic disciplines. Therefore, a thorough, comprehensive, scientific training in psychology is an indispensable prerequisite for studying clinical psychology.

Clinical psychology is primarily basic research, however, in that it provides conclusions about "normal" psychological functional areas from research into "disturbed" experience and behavior . In the context of applied research, she also looks for the causes and interdependencies of disturbed functional areas (e.g. disturbed information processing, especially in the presence of certain illnesses such as anxiety disorders) and also researches the basics of their development ( bio-psycho -social model : diathesis-stress model ), symptoms and maintenance of psychiatric illnesses (such as depression ). The research results give rise to opportunities to develop methods of change, which in turn are the subject of research in clinical psychology. In this respect, in addition to psychotherapy , clinical psychology can also provide psychological support in the form of training (psychoeducational training, etc.), advice and training for relatives and so on. It overlaps here with the psychological diagnosis and intervention or is supplemented by them. General psychological diagnostics (in particular personality and performance diagnostics) and of course in particular clinical-psychological diagnostics (ICD-10, DSM-5) including diagnosis and assessment are part of the field of clinical psychology as well as evidence-based therapy planning, therapy evaluation and that Quality management . Another very important research area in clinical psychology is epidemiology .


A special area of ​​clinical psychology is clinical neuropsychology , which deals with damage-related conditions and changes in the central nervous system and the resulting impaired functional areas.

The specialty of clinical child and adolescent psychology as well as z. B. Clinical-psychological family counseling and therapy differ greatly from systemic or psychoanalytic directions.

Clinical psychology overlaps with health psychology , which deals with social questions about effective prevention , health-promoting behavior (also with regard to mental health) and the social factors of illness and stress . In many cases, however, this is also classified as a sub-area of ​​clinical psychology.

Further points of intersection exist e.g. B. for work u. Organizational psychology, if it is about stress-related illnesses, effects of shift work, trauma in certain professional groups (rescue service, fire brigade, military, police).


A completed degree in psychology, which includes the subject of clinical psychology, is an entry requirement for training as a psychological psychotherapist ( Section 5, Paragraph 2, No. 1). The subject is not offered at any German distance learning university. In Switzerland it is only offered in combination with face-to-face events.

In Austria, training to become a clinical psychologist is legally regulated by the Psychologists Act. The prerequisite is a completed psychology degree with at least 300 ECTS , including proof of at least 75 ECTS in the areas of psychopathology, psychological diagnostics, health promotion and rehabilitation as well as interventions in health psychology and clinical psychology. Furthermore, the physical, psychological and personal suitability must be proven by appropriate medical certificates or clinical-psychological or specialist psychiatric reports and an admission interview must be conducted. In addition to 2098 practical hours and 340 theoretical units, 120 units of supervision and 76 units of self-awareness must be completed. The theoretical training is divided into a basic module "Clinical and Health Psychology" with 220 units, which concludes with a written examination. Then the advanced module "Clinical Psychology" can be chosen with 120 units. It is also possible to choose the advanced module "Health Psychology", which is required for training as a health psychologist. After completing the theoretical and practical training, an oral examination must be taken before a committee to acquire the technical competence.

Providers of the theoretical course must be recognized by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Health. This applies to the following institutions (alphabetical order):

  • Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt
  • Working group for behavior modification
  • Professional Association of Austrian Psychologists (BÖP): Austrian Academy for Psychology (ÖAP)
  • Society of Critical Psychologists (GkPP)
  • Austrian Academy for Psychology (AAP)
  • Hofen Castle
  • UMIT
  • University of Vienna
  • Vienna Academy for Clinical Psychology - WIKIP

Clinical psychologists who have been working as clinical psychologists for at least five years are to be entrusted with the supervision. Self-awareness may be obtained from clinical psychologists, health psychologists, psychotherapists, or specialists in psychiatry and psychotherapeutic medicine who have completed at least 120 units of self-awareness themselves.


  • R. Bastine: Clinical Psychology. Volume 1 and 2, Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1992/1998. (
  • H. Bommert, F. Petermann (ed.): Diagnostics and practice control in clinical psychology . DGVT, Tübingen 1982. ISBN 3-922686-55-9 .
  • JN Butcher, S. Mineka, JM Hooley: Clinical Psychology. 13th edition. Pearson Studies, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-8273-7328-1 .
  • F. Caspar, D. Regli: Clinical Psychology. (= Basic knowledge of psychology). VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2010, ISBN 978-3-531-17076-3 .
  • A. Ehlers, K. Hahlweg (Ed.): Fundamentals of clinical psychology. Hogrefe, Göttingen 1996, ISBN 3-8017-0543-9 .
  • W. Hartje, K. Poeck: Clinical Neuropsychology. 6th edition. Thieme, Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 3-13-624506-7 .
  • St. C. Hayes, DH Barlow, RO Nelson-Gray: The Scientist Practitioner. Research and Accountability in the Age of Managed Care. 2nd Edition. Allyn & Bacon, Boston 1999, ISBN 0-205-18098-1 .
  • PC Kendall (Ed.): Handbook of Research Methods in Clinical Psychology. 2nd Edition. Wiley, New York et al. 1999, ISBN 0-471-29509-4 .
  • AE Kazdin: Research Design in Clinical Psychology. 4th edition. Allyn & Bacon, Boston et al. 2010, ISBN 978-0-205-77406-7 .
  • SO Lilienfeld, JM Lohr, SJ Lynn (Eds.): Science and Pseudoscience in Clinical Psychology. Guilford Press, New York 2004, ISBN 1-57230-828-1 .
  • SO Lilienfeld, WT O'Donohue (Ed.): The Great Ideas of Clinical Science. 17 Principles That Every Mental Health Professional Should Understand. Routledge, New York, NY et al. 2007, ISBN 978-0-415-95038-1 .
  • M. Perrez, U. Baumann (Ed.): Textbook Clinical Psychology. Psychotherapy. 3. Edition. Huber, Bern et al. 2005, ISBN 3-456-84241-4 .
  • R. Barrabas: Core areas of psychology. An introduction to film examples. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2013, ISBN 978-3-8252-3850-6 , p. 91ff.
  • H. Reinecker (Ed.): Textbook of clinical psychology and psychotherapy. Models of mental disorders. 4th edition. Hogrefe, Göttingen 2003, ISBN 3-8017-1712-7 .
  • MC Roberts, SS Ilardi (Ed.): Handbook of Research Methods in Clinical Psychology. Blackwell, Boston 2003, ISBN 0-470-75698-5 .
  • H.-U. Wittchen, J. Hoyer (Ed.): Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy. 2nd Edition. Springer Heidelberg 2011, ISBN 978-3-642-13017-5 . ( Online materials )
  • M. Berking, W. Rief (Ed.): Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy for Bachelor. Volume I: Basics and knowledge of disorders. Springer, Heidelberg 2012, ISBN 978-3-642-16974-8 . ( Online materials )
  • M. Berking, W. Rief (Ed.): Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy for Bachelor. Volume II: Therapy Methods. Springer, Heidelberg 2012, ISBN 978-3-642-25522-9 . ( Online materials )

Trade journals

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Willy Hellpach: Clinical Psychology. 2nd Edition. Stuttgart 1947.
  2. See also Erich Stern: The psyche of the lung patient. Clinical-psychological and social-psychological studies on the influence of pulmonary tuberculosis and sanatorium life on the patient's psyche. 2nd Edition. Berlin 1954; and Ernst Stern: Problems and Tasks of Clinical Psychology. In: Erich Stern (ed.): The tests in clinical psychology. First half volume. Zurich 1954, pp. 3–20.
  3. Gernot Huppmann, Reinhold Ahr: Erich Stern (1889-1959) and medical psychology: an ergobiographical sketch. In: Medical historical messages. Journal for the history of science and specialist prose research. Volume 34, 2015, pp. 137–155, here: p. 152.
  4. Psychologists Act 2013
  5. website of ÖAP ( Memento of the original on 22 April 2012 at the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link is automatically inserted and not yet tested. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  6. ^ Website of the AAP
  7. WIKIP website

Web links

Commons : Clinical psychologists  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files