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Clinical psychology

Clinical psychology (medical psychology) is a branch of psychology (at the interface with psychiatry) that studies mental phenomena in terms of their relationship to disease. The field of clinical psychology includes the diagnosis of mental health, the organization, and the conduct of scientific research to understand psychophysiological problems and the development, implementation, and evaluation of psychological correction (psychotherapy). Psychotherapeutic methods of clinical psychology include counseling, individual psychotherapy, family psychotherapy, family counseling, and various forms of support for people experiencing psychological problems related to physical health disorders.

The subject of clinical psychology as a scientific and practical discipline:

  • Mental manifestations of various disorders;
  • The role of the psyche in the emergence, course, and prevention of disorders;
  • The impact of various disorders on the psyche;
  • Disorders of mental development;
  • Creation of psychological methods of influence on the human psyche for therapeutic and preventive purposes;
  • Development of research principles and methods in the clinic;
  • Psychotherapy, conducting and developing techniques.

Clinical psychologists are engaged in the study of general psychological problems, as well as problems of defining norm and pathology, determining the relationship between the social and the biological in man and the role of the conscious and the unconscious, and solving problems of mental development and decay.

The term "clinical psychology" was introduced in 1907 by the American psychologist Lightner Whitmer (1867-1956), who narrowly defined it as the study of individuals through observation or experimentation with the intent to produce change. According to the modern definition of the American Psychological Association:

The field of clinical psychology integrates science, theory, and practice to understand, predict, and alleviate maladaptation, disability, and discomfort, as well as to promote adaptability, adjustment, and personal development. Clinical psychology focuses on the intellectual, emotional, biological, psychological, social, and behavioral aspects of human functioning throughout life, across cultures, and at all socioeconomic levels.

The following sections are distinguished in clinical psychology:

  • Pathopsychology;
  • Neuropsychology;
  • Psychosomatics;
  • The Psychology of Abnormal Development;
  • Psychotherapy.


Pathopsychology deals with human mental disorders, disorders of adequate perception of the world due to lesions of the central nervous system. Pathopsychology studies regularities of mental processes decay in different disorders (illnesses) as well as factors contributing to the creation of effective correction methods of treatment. Practical tasks of pathopsychology include analysis of the structure of mental disorders, establishing the degree of decline in mental functions, differential diagnosis, the study of personality traits, and research into the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions.


Psychosomatics studies the problems of patients with somatic disorders, in the origin and course of which psychological factors play a major role. The sphere of psychosomatics includes issues related to cancer and other severe diseases (notification of the diagnosis, psychological care, preparation for surgery, rehabilitation, etc.) and psychosomatic disorders (when experiencing acute and chronic psychological trauma; problems include symptoms of coronary heart disease, ulcers, hypertension, neurodermatitis, psoriasis, bronchial asthma and etc.).


Neuropsychology is a broad scientific discipline that investigates the role of the brain and central nervous system in mental processes, addressing issues from psychiatry and neuroscience as well as the philosophy of consciousness, cognitive science, and artificial neural networks.


Psychotherapy is a method of psychological correction carried out by a clinical psychologist; in general terms, it is a set of techniques and methods used by a psychotherapist to bring about changes in a person's psychoemotional state, behavior, and communication patterns, to improve their well-being and improve their ability to adapt in society. Psychotherapy is not effective starting from the 3rd stage of psychosomatic disease development; it does not affect PFS. However, it is used as an additional tool for alleviating the patient's condition during the psychosomatic disease.

There are many different areas of psychotherapy: psychodynamic psychotherapy, cognitive psychotherapy, humanistic psychotherapy, family psychotherapy, Gestalt therapy, emotional imagery therapy, body-oriented psychotherapy; in recent decades there has also been an emphasis on transpersonal types of psychotherapy.

A clinical or medical psychologist is a psychologist authorized to work in a medical facility. It can be a maternity hospital, it can be a psychiatric hospital, a drug treatment hospital, and so on. The specialty is borderline between medical science and psychology, but the clinical psychologist does not have a medical degree. An ordinary psychologist cannot work in the medical field.

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