Clinical psychology is the application of abnormal psychology research to the understanding, treatment, and assessment of psychopathology. This primarily includes behavioral and mental health concerns. It has traditionally been associated with psychological treatment and psychotherapy, although modern clinical psychology may take an eclectic approach, including a number of therapeutic approaches. Typically, although working with many of the same clients as psychiatrists, clinical psychologists do not, in general, prescribe psychiatric drugs. Several branches of the armed forces have in the past, and a few graduate schools are presently offering a psychopharmacology specialty for psychologists for them to be able to prescribe mental health medication. Some clinical psychologists may focus on the clinical management of patients with brain injury. This area is known as clinical neuropsychology.
In recent years and particularly in the United States, a major split has been developing between academic research psychologists in universities and some branches of clinical psychology. Many research psychologists believe that many contemporary clinicians use therapies based on discredited theories and unsupported by empirical evidence of their effectiveness. From the other side, these clinicians believe that the research psychologists are ignoring their experience in dealing with actual patients. The disagreement resulted in the formation of the Association for Psychological Science by the research psychologists as a new body distinct from the American Psychological Association.
The work performed by clinical psychologists tends to be done inside various therapy models. A popular model is the Cognitive-Behavioral therapy (CBT) framework. CBT is an umbrella term that refers to a number of therapies which focus on changing cognitions and/or behaviors, rather than changing behavior exclusively, or discovering the unconscious causes of psychopathology (as in the psychodynamic school). The two most famous CBT therapies are Aaron T. Beck's cognitive therapy and Albert Ellis's rational emotive behavior therapy, i.e., RET (with cognitive therapy being, by far, the most extensively studied therapy in contemporary clinical psychology).
Counseling psychology is a psychology specialty that facilitates personal and interpersonal functioning across the lifespan with a focus on emotional, social, vocational, educational, health-related, developmental, and organizational concerns. Counseling psychology differs from clinical psychology in that it is focused more on normal developmental issues and everyday stress rather than serious mental disorders. Counselling psychologists are employed in a variety of settings, including universities, schools, businesses, private practice, and community mental health centers.
The emerging field of relationship counseling, which characterizes ordinary human relationship successes and failures in concrete terms, has the specific appeal of avoiding psychology's practice of ascribing pathology to individuals who seek assistance. Current health insurance reimbursement for psychological services commonly involves the assignment of mental disease nomenclature(a feature that potential clients may find offensive, and that could potentially be iatrogenic, i.e., when a treatment creates other problems).
Relationship counseling, also referred to as "relationship education", includes psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers. It is based on decades of university-based research, drawing on knowledge gained through close observation and analysis of both successful and unsuccessful marriages and family units.