Applications of Psychology
Edited by Andrew M. Colman
1995, London and New York: Longman. Pp. xvi + 111. ISBN 0-582-27802-3
Notes on editor and contributors
Series editor's preface
1 Clinical and Counselling Psychology
Graham E. Powell University of Surrey, England
2 Educational (School) Psychology
David Fontana School of Education, University of Wales College of Cardiff
3 Industrial (Occupational) and Organizational Psychology
Wendy Hollway Development and Project Planning Centre, University of Bradford, England
4 Forensic (Criminological) Psychology
Clive R. Hollin University of Birmingham, England
Peter Fonagy University College London, England
Andrew M. Colman
This volume surveys psychology's major practices and
professions, which coexist alongside the academic discipline of psychology. The
first four chapters cover the major professions of psychology, and chapter 5
deals with a practice that is closely associated with psychology but is not one
of its own recognized professions.
Psychology emerged as an independent academic discipline in the 1880s, and for several decades thereafter psychologists confined their activities almost exclusively to teaching and research in universities and colleges. Starting in the 1950s, several new fields of applied psychology began to emerge, and eventually a range of non-academic professions of psychology developed. Psychologists began to find employment not only in universities and colleges, but also in hospitals, clinics, counselling agencies, specialized research establishments, schools, prisons, government departments, and commercial and industrial companies. In addition, many people built careers for themselves as self-employed professional psychologists in private practice. The major professions of psychology, discussed in detail in the chapters that follow, are clinical and counselling psychology (chapter 1); educational psychology, which is sometimes (especially in the United States) called school psychology (chapter 2); industrial (or occupational) and organizational psychology (chapter 3), and forensic (or criminological) psychology (chapter 4). In addition, there are a small number of practices that are closely allied to psychology but are not strictly part of it. Chapter 5 deals with an important example of this, namely psychoanalysis, which is a near relative of clinical and counselling psychology.
All of these practices and professions involve applying psychology to problems of everyday life. This contrasts sharply with basic research in academic psychology, in which understanding and explanation of behaviour and mental experience are regarded as sufficient ends in themselves, although practical applications are sometimes also of interest to basic researchers. Pure research can be considered important, irrespective of its immediate or potential usefulness for solving practical problems of everyday life, if it uncovers or helps to explain some previously unrecognized or poorly understood function or phenomenon of behaviour or mental experience. The professions of psychology, on the other hand, pursue essentially practical aims, although they rely on and exploit the findings of both pure and applied research. Clinical psychology, in helping people with all forms of mental disorder, relies on research into the nature, diagnosis, classification, treatment, and prevention of mental disorders. In educational (school) psychology, research into problems of learning, adjustment, and child behaviour is applied with the ultimate goal of offering practical help to troubled children, parents, and teachers. In industrial (occupational) and organizational psychology, research into the well-being and efficiency of people at work and in organizations is applied to the special problems that arise in those settings. Psychoanalysis is a slightly different case: it is an enormously influential theory of mental structure and function, based on the writings of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) and his followers, and a highly specialized method of psychotherapy. The aims of psychoanalysis as a therapeutic method are similar to those of clinical and counselling psychology.
Outside the major professions discussed in this book, psychology finds subsidiary though none the less important applications in a variety of other fields. Some service industries, including market research, advertising, and management consultancy, often employ psychologists and make use of their special skills and knowledge. In addition, there are several professions, including nursing, social work, speech therapy, schoolteaching, and certain branches of medicine such as psychiatry and general practice, in which aspects of psychology are included in the basic training, and in which knowledge gained from psychological research is routinely applied in practice.
In some countries, there are legal barriers designed to prevent or limit the practice of psychology and pseudo-psychology by unqualified people. In the United States, some state legislatures have introduced certification laws that forbid practitioners who are not properly qualified from calling themselves psychologists, and others have introduced licensing laws that make it illegal for unqualified people to offer certain defined psychological services for payment. Licensing laws are uncommon in other parts of the world, but in Britain a voluntary Register of Chartered Psychologists was introduced in 1988. Only those on the Register of Chartered Psychologists are legally entitled to call themselves chartered psychologists and to receive practising certificates from the British Psychological Society. Most European countries, and many non-European countries including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Japan, have some form of legal registration governing the practice of psychology.
In chapter 1 of this book, Graham E. Powell provides a survey of the approaches and techniques of clinical and counselling psychology, outlines the range of problems dealt with within these professions, and discusses certain associated professional issues. Powell points out that counselling psychology overlaps with clinical psychology to such a degree that it is difficult to separate them. Counselling is a broad and ill-defined term referring to a form of helping process that involves offering advice and information designed to assist individuals or groups of people in coping with their problems. It overlaps not only with clinical psychology, but also with educational or school psychology (chapter 2) and with aspects of industrial or occupational psychology (chapter 3) and forensic or criminological psychology (chapter 4). It includes the more specialized fields of marriage counselling, student counselling, vocational counselling, HIV and AIDS counselling, and rehabilitation counselling, although not all counsellors in these areas are psychologists.
Readers who wish to study the entire range of mental disorders that fall within clinical psychology should examine the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association, which provides an exhaustive classification of mental disorders and criteria for their diagnosis. The current edition (American Psychiatric Association, 1994) is generally referred to as DSM-IV, and its diagnostic criteria are widely accepted by clinical psychologists and other mental health practitioners worldwide. DSM-IV classifies mental disorders into the following categories: disorders usually first diagnosed in infancy, childhood, or adolescence; delirium, dementia, and amnestic and other cognitive disorders; mental disorders due to a general medical condition; substance-related disorders; schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders; mood disorders; anxiety disorders; somatoform disorders; factitious disorders; dissociative disorders; sexual and gender identity disorders; eating disorders; sleep disorders; impulse-control disorders not elsewhere classified; adjustment disorders; personality disorders; other conditions that may be a focus of clinical attention. Many abnormal psychology texts cover the entire range of DSM-IV categories, but in addition to the suggestions for further reading listed at the end of chapter 1, the book by Davison and Neale (1994) is highly recommended; and for more information on contemporary methods of treating the major disorders, see Barlow (1993).
Chapter 2, by David Fontana, focuses on educational or school psychology. Fontana starts by pointing out that the term educational psychology has a dual meaning, referring both to the psychology of education as it is taught to trainee schoolteachers and to the branch of applied professional psychology sometimes called school psychology devoted to helping children with learning and behavioural problems. One of the main functions of educational or school psychology in the latter sense is psychological assessment and diagnosis. For example, if a child is performing poorly at school, the child's parents or teachers may ask an educational psychologist to try to determine whether the problem is due to lack of ability, emotional disturbance, social or interpersonal problems with teachers or other children, difficulties in the home environment, some form of mental disorder, or (as is often the case) simply poor eyesight or hearing. Having diagnosed the problem, the educational or school psychologist may offer counselling or treatment in the form of individual, group, or family therapy, or may advise parents or teachers on therapeutic programmes that can be implemented in the home or at school. Therapeutic work with children has much in common with the techniques of clinical psychology but requires specialized skills for dealing with children and expertise in handling problems of educational adjustment. If the child is judged to have special educational needs, the educational psychologist may recommended specialized support services ranging up to placement in a special school or unit. Readers who wish to know more about educational or school psychology should consult the recommendations for further reading at the end of chapter 2 and perhaps also the book by Borich and Tombari (1995) or, for a more advanced discussion, the one by Pressley and McCormick (1995).
In chapter 3, Wendy Hollway discusses industrial (occupational) and organizational psychology. This branch of applied psychology is concerned with all aspects of psychology in the workplace and is commonly referred to in the United States as industrial/organizational psychology or simply I/O psychology and in Britain as occupational psychology. To avoid confusion Hollway prefers to use the simpler continental European term work psychology. Work psychology includes vocational guidance and selection, methods of dealing with problems of work motivation, job satisfaction and absenteeism in organizations, improvement of communication within organizations, design and implementation of training courses, teaching of social and human relations skills, improvement of promotion structures, evaluation of job performance, and counselling of employees about career development or retraining following redundancy or retirement.
Another source of terminological confusion surrounds an important branch of work psychology that is called ergonomics in Britain and the rest of Europe and engineering psychology in the United States. This is the application of psychology concerned with fitting jobs to people, rather than fitting people to jobs -- fitting people to jobs falls under job selection and placement. Ergonomists design jobs, equipment, and workplaces to maximize performance and well-being and to minimize accidents, fatigue, boredom, and energy expenditure. Work psychology covers a vast and diverse range of activities, and readers wishing to read more about it should consult the suggestions for further reading at the end of chapter 3 and perhaps also the books by Smither (1994) and Steers and Black (1994).
In chapter 4, Clive R. Hollin provides a survey of forensic (criminological) psychology, a field of applied psychology that has been growing rapidly since the early 1980s. Within this broad field, research has flourished in many areas, from offender profiling to the design and evaluation of crime prevention programmes. Hollin confines his discussion to three of the most important groups of applications: psychology in the courtroom (including eyewitness testimony, confession evidence, and factors affecting jury decisions); theories of criminal behaviour, and crime prevention strategies. Chapter 4 does not discuss in detail certain other areas of forensic or criminological psychology that are closely related to clinical and counselling psychology. For example, psychologists employed in prisons and other penal institutions are often involved in the diagnostic assessment of inmates suffering from psychological disturbances such as depression, sleeplessness, uncontrollable anger, loss of identity, lack of assertiveness, guilt feelings, paranoia, and other psychological disturbances, and forensic psychologists sometimes carry out individual and group therapy with psychologically disturbed inmates. For more information on this branch of applied psychology, see the further reading recommended at the end of chapter 4 and the Handbook of Psychology in Legal Contexts (1995).
Chapter 5 is devoted to psychoanalysis. In this chapter Peter Fonagy, who is qualified as both a psychoanalyst and a clinical psychologist, distinguishes between psychoanalysis as a psychotherapeutic method of treatment, as a theory of mental disorder (especially of neurosis), as a theory of personality and individual differences, as a collection of theories about mental functioning, and even as a theory of human civilization. As a theory, psychoanalysis focuses primarily on unconscious mental processes and the various defence mechanisms that people use to repress them. As a therapeutic method, it involves 50-minute therapeutic sessions three or more times per week for several years, during which the psychoanalyst uses a number of specialized techniques are used to help the client uncover repressed thoughts and feelings, understand why they were repressed, and consciously accept them. Fonagy discusses the development of psychoanalytic theory from Freud's earliest ideas to the most important contributions of his followers, including Hartmann, Erikson, George Klein, Melanie Klein, Kernberg, Fairburn, Winnocott, and Kohut. The chapter includes a discussion of two forms of psychoanalysis as a treatment method -- strict psychoanalysis and the more widely practised psychoanalytic psychotherapy that has evolved from it -- and concludes with a general evaluation. For readers who wish to delve deeper into this subject, an alphabetically arranged reference work that is especially informative about the fundamental concepts of psychoanalysis is Laplanche and Pontalis's (1988) The Language of Psycho-analysis.
American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
Barlow, D. H. (Ed.). (1993). Clinical handbook of psychological disorders: A step-by-step treatment manual. New York: Guilford.
Borich, G. D., & Tombari, M. L. (1995). Educational psychology: A contemporary approach. New York: HarperCollins.
.Davison, G. C., & Neale, J. M. (1994). Abnormal psychology (6th ed.). New York: Wiley.
Handbook of psychology in legal contexts. (1995). New York: Wiley.
Laplanche, J., & Pontalis, J.-B. (1988). The language of psycho-analysis (D. Nicholson-Smith, Trans.). London: Karnac Books and The Institute of Psycho-analysis. (Original work published 1967)
Pressley, M., & McCormick, C. B. (1995). Advanced educational psychology for educators, researchers and policy makers. New York: HarperCollins.
Smither R. D. (1994). The psychology of work and human performance (2nd ed.). London: HarperCollins.
Steers, R. M., & Black, J. S. (1994). Organizational behavior (5th ed.). London: HarperCollins.
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