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Wilhelm Wundt in the 1850s argued that psychology is the science of consciousness as quoted in Woolfe, Windy and Strawbridge (2003, p 3). This is where research subjects retrospect their sensations and feelings, hence being the basis of clinical psychology. The field of psychology has evolved rapidly in the past century, however, no branch of psychology has enjoyed a more comprehensive and rapid growth than the clinical speciality (Shaffer & Lazarus, 1952 p 1). Clinical psychology has a number of specializations that have developed within its realms. This paper discusses counselling psychology as a sub discipline of clinical psychology, with an emphasis on the historical evolution and the role of research and statistics in clinical psychology.
The term counselling psychology was first used by Carl Rogers in 1942; who was prevented from referring to his work as psychotherapy as he was lacking medical qualification required (Whitney, 1980). This was the origin of counselling that was not directly related to clinical psychology as understood then.
The development of counselling psychology was most rapid in the United States of America, where scholars developed on the works of Rogers (Woolfe et al, 2003). Another significant development occurred in Britain that has largely shaped the current counselling psychology, which has seen it closely linked to clinical psychology.
Counselling psychology emphasizes on the provision of guidance services to groups and individuals with the use of data collected using the scientific methodology (Woolfe et al, 2003). The discipline got detached from clinical psychology and developed logic of its own. There were various methodologies that were generated within the discipline; this led to the emergence of a new sense of professionalism.
According to (Woolfe et al, 2003) Counselling psychology has moved away from viewing its subjects as patients to viewing them in a more humane sense, this is unlike conventional clinical psychology. This change has brought in a new professionalism within counselling psychology leading to the development of new techniques of gathering information applied. This brought in the importance of adopting research methods and statistics within the discipline.
Counselling psychology recognizes the importance of clear conceptual framework within which research can develop, and practice can be evaluated (Woolfe et al, 2003 p 5). The discipline relies on the application of research methodology for gathering information needed in developing counselling guidelines. Research and statistical data play a pivotal role in counselling psychology, as they perform the function of gathering the necessary information required for the evaluation of subjects and understanding the guidance and counselling needs required by the subjects.
It is a rapidly evolving field as the information gathered through the scientific methodology helps shape the discipline. The widely used research methods include interviews, case history, and observational techniques as stated in Shaffer and Lazarus (1952). These enable the counselling psychologist to understand the subjects in order to develop specific counselling techniques for different cases. Statistics serve a valuable role of gathering relevant data to establish the existence of trends that are useful for the development of the discipline.
There has been a return of counselling to psychology as Woolfe et al (2003) put it. Since the works of Carl Rogers, counselling psychology has been developing as a separate discipline, with the emergence of a new professionalism, and increasing reliance on research and statistics, the discipline has recently been returning to be more in line with clinical psychology the new professionalism within it notwithstanding. The discipline is fast evolving; this sees the emergence of new trends regularly that still shape the discipline to create its own direction. This may see the detachment of the discipline from conventional clinical psychology to a distinct field.