Choosing a Professional Role: Clinical Psychology Clinical Psychology Description

            The contributions of clinical psychology in the promotion and protection of the health of the population cannot be underestimated. The field plays an essential role in providing professional services that help in the examination and diagnosis of emotional, behavioral and psychophysiological problems. The profession ensures that the health care providers are correctly evaluating and examining their patients to promote and protect their mental health (Rajecki, Appleby, Williams, Johnson, & Jeschke, 2005). A clinical psychologist is responsible for understanding and predicting intellectual capabilities of patients. The division works closely with the other healthcare providers specialized in mental health. Undoubtedly, clinical psychology plays a vital role in improving the psychological health of the people. Knowledge and Skills Required

            Acquiring professional knowledge and skills in the field of clinical psychology is vital in the successful practice of the career. A clinical psychologist should be trained and be familiar with all mental, emotional and behavioral problems. It is crucial to have a deep understanding concerning the conditions to successfully work with other healthcare providers. It is imperative for one to be familiar with relationship issues and embrace cultural diversity to successfully practice the profession (Rajecki et al., 2005). Reflective and decision-making skills are critical in the practice of the clinical psychology profession. One is also required to acquire nursing skills to care for the patients. Diagnostic and conceptual knowledge and skills are important in the field of clinical psychology, particularly when conducting mental examinations and assessments (DeAngelis, 2008). An individual who wants to be a successful clinical psychologist is obliged to acquire the skills to improve the provision of quality healthcare services. However, it is vital for one to pursue a degree in psychology and specialize in clinical psychology. A nursing education is an added advantage to be successful in the field of clinical psychology. Tasks Expected to Perform

            A clinical psychologist is assigned duties and responsibilities ranging from general service to practicing in a health care facility. They play an essential role in the rehabilitation of a person diagnosed with addictions and/or mental disorders. They also help a person with a disability to adjust their life and live with their condition and still be productive (Rajecki et al., 2005). Such individuals conduct interviews that help the physicians to collect vital information regarding the condition of the patients suspected to be having mental or behavioral problems. The clinical psychologist educates and trains patients by empowering them with vital skills and information to overcome the challenge they experience in life following their medical conditions (DeAngelis, 2008). Psychologists are also considered educators and are responsible for designing the curriculum and training schedule of students to prepare them for the future practice of clinical psychology. They offer guidance and counseling services to patients and their families in an attempt to encourage family therapy to enhance recovery (Rajecki et al., 2005). Understanding the roles of a clinical psychologist is crucial to making informed choices in matters related to the career and to uphold professionalism. Improving Clinical Psychology Profession

            The path towards growing and developing expertize in a profession entails three predictive factors. First, the participation in social networks is an effective strategy for gaining expertize in clinical psychology. It is vital to join the American Board of Clinical Psychology (ABCP) to exchange information and experience with the members (DeAngelis, 2008). The association provides guidelines for clinical psychologists to have a sense of direction to improve the provision of such services. Second, the participation in training and development program can also help a person to gain expertize in clinical psychology. It offers opportunities to the person to benefit from the training materials offered, and the courses that will add to their experience and professionalism (DeAngelis, 2008). Finally, growth in personal initiatives and gaining expertize are also important predictive factors that encourage a person to pursue courses and training that they deem necessary. For instance, pursuing a diploma in clinical psychology can help a psychologist to gain knowledge and skills for a successful practice of the clinical psychology profession.

Theories and Research Methods

Biopsychological Theory

The biopsychological theory was first proposed by Jeffrey Allan Gray in 1970. The theory proposes the existence of two systems that control any human behavioral system:  Behavioral Activation System (BAS) and Behavioral Inhibition System (BIS).

Behavioral Inhibition System (BIS) involves the prediction of a person’s response to situations in the environment which are likely to produce anxiety. The neuropsychological system associated with the BIS is activated in cases of negative events such as punishment. The response of this system to cues in a given environment that indicate the possible negative occurrences ensures that the individual is able to avoid such unpleasant events. The proponents of this system propose that the causal basis related to the BIS is anxiety.

Behavioral activation system (BAS) deals with the issue of a person’s disposition to achieve set goals. The system is aroused by cues in the environment associated with rewards and it is related to impulsivity.  The BAS is assumed to be the reason behind the happiness and the elation a person feels when one achieves a certain goal (Ling, 1998).

Psychoanalytic Theory

Sigmund Freud is credited with originating the Psychoanalytic theory which is based on the interaction between three basic components of the mind: id, ego, and Superego.  The Ego part of the mind is solely concerned with immediate gratification, the ego is concerned with the social rules and norms while the superego part of the mind mediates between the two parts of the mind leading to a favorable compromise.   The interactions between these parts of the mind are said to be the main determinants of human behavior, and ultimately shape an individual’s personality. According to Freud, the development of an individual’s personality starts during childhood and takes place in five psychosexual phases. During these phases, the child has faced conflicts between social expectations and the child’s innate biological drive. According to this theory, the maturity of each individual’s personality is determined by how well he or she navigates and masters each of these psychosexual development stages (Loeb, 2010).

The Blank Slate Theory

This theory of psychology is also commonly referred to as tabula rasa and posited that a child is born with a blank mind and that anything he or she learns is purely acquired through its interaction with the environment. One of the main theorists behind the tabula rasa idea was John Locke. Later studies disapproved the theory indicating that the child is born with innate capabilities which allow it to learn. Furthermore, some unlearned behaviors in children such as laughing cannot be explained by the theory.    

Primary Research areas for developmental psychologists are cognitive, emotional and behavioral development. The studies focus on the effects of various factors including preterm birth, the parent’s occupation, and educational level of the parents and other socioeconomic factors on the child’s emotional, behavioral and cognitive development.

Developmental Psychologists use many methods in research including observational and experimental studies. An example of an observational research method is the cohort studies are mainly applied I the prognosis, incidence and causes. Cohort studies are done chronologically and are very useful in distinguishing between causes and effects. In cohort studies, a sample group of participants is studied over a period of time to determine changes in the participants over time.

A scholarly article in which Cohort observational method was used is entitled “Variables Associated With Cognitive Behavioral and Emotional Development: A Cohort of Schoolchildren” (Barbieri, Bettiol, Correia, Loureiro, & Saur, 2014). The research was done to investigate possible variables which may have an impact on the behavioral, cognitive and emotional development of a cohort of school children. The study was conducted in Brazil and was primarily interested in investigating variables such as socioeconomic factors (occupation of head of a family, the number of household members), and biological (birth weight and gestational age weight, sex). A sample of 790 school children in a school was involved in the study. The scholars used Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire to assess behavioral and emotional aspects while the cognitive assessment was done through the use of the Raven Test.

Critiquing Research Articles

Research Article №1

The first study to be introduced in the assignment is «A transdiagnostic comparison of enhanced cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT-E) and interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) in the treatment of eating disorders» (Fairburn et al., 2015). The purpose of the  research was to identify which of the two psychotherapeutic methods can be considered more effective in treating eating disorders. Another goal was to find out whether the study’s findings would coincide with the ones of the initial study of CBT-E by Fairburn et al (2009).

The hypothesis of the study is that IPT proves as effective in treating eating disorders as CBT-E. The research was aimed at exploring a dependent variable, the effect of psychotherapy on patients with eating disorders. In order to disclose it two independent variables, CBT-E and IPT were used as two different methods of achieving the psychotherapeutic effect.

Three therapists were involved in the research: two clinical psychologists and a psychiatric nurse practitioner. Therapeutic sessions lasted from 20 to 50 minutes in both methods. All of them had been recorded and some (the selected sessions) had been supervised.

The study was held in one of the eating disorder clinics in the UK. It included patients whose body mass index was between 17.5 and 40.0. After their randomization to one of the methods, patients received psychotherapy for 20 weeks. The assessment occurred before and after treatment as well as in 20, 40 and 60 weeks’ period from the end of therapy.

The study involved 130 patients aged 18-65 years with eating disorders, which took part in the research from 2006 to 2011. The range of participants included: 53 ones with bulimia nervosa, 8 ones with binge eating disorder and 69 were diagnosed “other eating disorder”. The half (65 ones) of the patients were treated with CBT-E and the other half – with IPT. The study implemented stratified random sampling using the computer-based minimization algorithm.

Patients’ condition was measured according to the 16th edition of the Eating Disorder Examination interview (EDE). In order to assess the effect of psychotherapy the following variables were used: EDE global score, eating disorder behavior and cessation for binge eating and purging if present. The patients were analyzed in terms of all the variables using a separate linear mixed model with the scores. The scores were measured before and after the 20-weeks of treatment and in 20, 40 and 60 weeks after treatment. Since the study refers to the clinical trial, the data was gathered by study staff into the electronic case report forms. An intent-to-treat and per protocol analyses were used to compare the treatment groups.

The research compared the outcomes of treatment at baseline, post-treatment and at 60-week post-treatment follow-up. At posttreatment, the global EDE score below 1.74 among the patients with CBT-E psychotherapy was 65.5% compared to 33.3% of those who were treated with IPT. Consequently, the study results showed that CBT-E managed to introduce almost twice as many participants in remission, and thus, had the higher effectiveness in treating eating disorders.

Among the obvious strengths of the research design, there is a centralized method of randomization, which provided the study with two equivalent groups. Furthermore, data collection and analysis was conducted with the help of electronic case report forms; this method guarantees a high accuracy of the results. The research is limited to exploring the psychotherapeutic effects on adults with BMI between 17.5 and 40.0; therefore, the sampling does not represent the whole society. Finally, it is notable that in 60-weeks follow-up the remission rate of IPT patients has registered a 15,7% growth, while the rate of CBT-E patients – only 3,9%.  This may indicate that IPT may prove more effective in a long-term perspective, and CBT-E manages to show the results in short term.

Research Article №2

Another research refers to “Effectiveness of hypnosis therapy and Gestalt therapy as depression treatments ” (González-Ramírez et al., 2017 ). The study’s primary aim was to identify the effectiveness of two methods in dealing with depressive patients. Another goal was to discover whether hypnosis or Gestalt therapy would show better results in depression treatment.

The study checks the hypothesis that both methods are statistically effective in treating depression. Depression degree is measured in the research as a dependent variable with the help of independent variables – symptoms of depression measured by the Beck Anxiety Inventory test (BAI).

The method of the research refers to a quantitative quasi-experimental one, which involved two experimental groups and a control one. Two groups were tested before and after therapies, while the control one was delivered sessions of passive listening. The first experimental group was treated with therapeutic hypnosis (HT) and the second – with a mix of Gestalt-Hypnosis Therapy (GHT) and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). The members of experimental groups were delivered treatment individually in 6 weekly sessions. 30 patients were selected for the study on the basis of the auto-evaluation scale International Neuropsychiatric Interview 5.0.0 (MINI), which is a known tool for diagnostician of a depression. The sample included 21 females and 9 males aged 23-35 years.

BAI test was used to assess the patients’ condition before and after therapy. Kolmogorov Smirnov test, one-way analysis of variance, Tuckey test as well as statistical analyses in Minitab 17.1.0 were implemented for data analysis. Data were collected from the electronic case report forms.

The results of the study showed that both experimental groups demonstrated a decrease in the depression between pre-test and post-test as opposed to the control group. However, only HT experimental group’s results showed a statistical difference in comparison with the control group. The authors conclude that HT manages to achieve better results in the shorter period of time compared to a combination of GHT and CBT methods.

One of the greatest strengths of the research is the presence of control group, which makes the experiment valid and credible. The use of the statistical electronic application is another advantage of the study. Among the possible limitations of the research, there is a lack of information on the sampling type, which makes the sample not representative enough. Moreover, the sample size may be considered too small for any statistical significance. Also, the use of BAI, which is a self-report inventory, may fail to provide the explorers with the unbiased data. Another drawback refers to the fact that the study didn’t apply clear forms of hypnosis and Gestalt therapies; instead, it used HT in the first group and a combination of GHT and CBT in the second group. Consequently, the results can only prove that hypnosis is more effective than a mix of GHT and CBT rather than provide any evidence on the difference in treatment effects of hypnosis and Gestalt therapies.

        From the ongoing Capstone Projects are parts of the degree requirement at Walden University that are aimed to impact positive social change. Having successfully gone through the project, I intend to use the professional theories in Psychological counseling for positive social change as a pro-bono counselor worker for sexually abused women. Women in various instances face sexual abuse and violence including rape, non-consensual sexual contacts, and sexual advantages by seniors and bosses in the place of work. Sexual abuse may not be only about sex but also are attempts to gain power over the victims. The act of any form of sexual abuse on women causes stigma that deems the esteem and self-image of the victim. It also puts the victim at risk of STIs and STDs diseases including HIV/AIDS.  The victim may also be put into a risk of unwanted pregnancy. Sexual abuses have significant emotional and psychological effects such as depression and stigma that may even lead to committing suicide or indulgence into drugs.

     Immediate post assault assistance to the victim is invaluable and can even save lives. However, psychological therapy is significant as well to facilitate emotional and psychological healing for the victim. Professional and specialized therapists address the trauma of the sexual assault and offer a successive follow-up assistance to the survivors of the sexual abuse. As a social worker, I will work with such sexually abused women to help them walk over the assault.

     I will achieve this creating and applying ideas and strategies from the theories that I have learned in professional psychological counselling. To do so I will put actions to promote the worth the assaulted victims by helping them regain their dignity through various action plans as outlined here in.     

      To be able to reach the victims, I will seek relevant assistance from other professional therapists and agencies that campaign against women abuse. With their advice and assistant, I will set-up a social support centre for women victims of sexual assaults. The centre will be open for consultation for all. In this manner, any victim can reach us through the provided lines and contacts. Those who cannot reach us because of one reason or the other, we will reach them through referrals by family members and their significant others. 

      Our mission will be to offer immediate medical assistance aimed at saving the victim from post assaults risks associated with the sexual abuse. The victim will be taken through psychotherapy process towards recovery. The therapeutic approaches that will be employed include;

      Exposure therapy will help the victim to fight the phobias that arise from the incident including the fear of similar assaults from the people around her. Another approach will be the eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy commonly abbreviated as EMDR which is focused on helping the brain “rewrite” the brain and change the way the victim perceives the abuse. Lastly to help the survivor to abandon maladaptive approaches I will employ the cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This will help the victim to recover from the thoughts that may cause her to avoid intimacy or sexual relationship.  The follow-up therapies will be accorded to help the victim to walk over the stigmatization and to rebuild her life.    

 

       Professional psychological counseling for such victims is very necessary for our community, and therefore I will be glad to part of the program that implicates positive social changes in our society.  Women should always be protected and helped through such assaults through professional practices, and I will offer to do so passionately, diligently and to the best of my ability for the betterment of the society.    

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