AP Psychology: Clinical Psychology Notes

Key Takeaways: Clinical Psychology

  1. A variety of conceptions of the causes of psychological disorders have emerged throughout history. Those models that are still embraced by contemporary psychologists each possess distinctive strengths and weaknesses.
  2. The DSM-5 is the diagnostic tool used by clinical practitioners to diagnose a wide assortment of recognized disorders. The DSM-5 organizes these disorders by categories and identifies them by clusters of symptoms. 
  3. The use of diagnostic labels carries advantages (like heightened consistency in diagnosis, treatment, and research) but also disadvantages (such as those revealed by the Rosenhan experiment). 
  4. The judicial system interacts with clinical psychology in a number of ways, including confidentiality regulations and the insanity defense. 
  5. Psychological treatment is provided by mental health professionals in a variety of settings. The two most common types of treatment are psychotherapy and pharmacological treatment. 
  6. Psychotherapies come in a variety of theoretical orientations and formats. The most common treatment orientations are psychodynamic, humanistic, behavioral, cognitive, biomedical, and integrated. The four main formats of psychotherapy are individual, group, couples, and family. 
  7. Research suggests that psychotherapy generally helps patients to make positive changes in their lives, but some types of treatment are more effective for particular conditions than others. 
  8. Culture influences a variety of factors important to treatment. Decreased access, racism, and Eurocentrism contribute to unequal outcomes for patients from marginalized groups, but measures such as multicultural competence may help to alleviate these inequalities. 
  9. Effective prevention programs reduce environmental risk factors for mental illness and build up strengths. Prevention efforts might focus on promoting health, increasing competence, or building resilience.

Key Terms: Clinical Psychology

What are Psychological Disorders?

  • Abnormal behavior: Maladaptive actions or cognitive processes that defy social norms.
  • Deinstitutionalization: Late twentieth-century movement to release large numbers of asylum patients and reintegrate them into their communities.
  • Medical model: Maintains that abnormal behaviors are symptoms of an underlying disease.
  • Psychoanalytic model: Maintains that abnormal behaviors are caused by repressed memories of childhood trauma and unconscious conflicts.
  • Humanistic model: Views psychological disorders as temporary impediments to self-actualization that result from unsatisfied needs.
  • Cognitive model: Maintains that abnormal behaviors result from faulty beliefs and maladaptive emotional responses.
  • Biological model: Maintains that psychological disorders result from imbalances in brain chemistry and other biological causes, including heredity and evolution.
  • Sociocultural model: Maintains that psychological disorders are culturally specific and caused by a variety of social and cultural factors.
  • Behavioral model: Maintains that abnormal behaviors are the products of learning, just like any other behaviors.

Diagnostic Categories

  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM): The diagnostic tool published by the American Psychiatric Association, used to categorize and diagnose psychological disorders.
  • Anxiety disorders: Disorders characterized by excessive fear and anxiety.
  • Fear: An emotional response to a real or perceived threat that activates the sympathetic nervous system.
  • Anxiety: The expectation of a threat, which results in hypervigilance, evasive behaviors, and bodily tension.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder: A disorder characterized by excessive worry about numerous aspects of life.
  • Specific phobias: Irrational and excessive fears of particular stimuli, such as heights (acrophobia), spiders (arachnophobia), or crowds (agoraphobia).
  • Panic disorder: A disorder characterized by repeat, unexpected panic attacks.
  • Panic attacks: Episodes of acute fear that involve intense autonomic arousal.
  • Social anxiety disorder: A disorder characterized by anxiety in response to social or performance situations.
  • Dissociative disorders: Disorders characterized by a disconnection from one’s identity.
  • Depersonalization/derealization disorder: A disorder characterized by feelings of detachment from oneself and/or one’s environment.
  • Dissociative amnesia: A disorder characterized by extensive gaps in memory that result from emotional, rather than physiological, trauma.
  • Dissociative fugue: A subtype of dissociative amnesia in which patients construct new identities and personal histories for themselves.
  • Dissociative identity disorder (DID): A disorder characterized by the presence of two or more distinct personalities that alternate in their control of a patient’s behavior; formerly known as multiple personality disorder.
  • Feeding and eating disorders: Disorders characterized by obsessive and unhealthy eating habits.
  • Anorexia nervosa: A disorder characterized by a strong desire to lose weight, a low BMI, and habitually restrictive eating.
  • Bulimia nervosa: A disorder characterized by bingeing and purging behavior and a normal BMI.

Check out our full Clinical Psychology Notes!