Clinical Psychology: Past, Present and Future
The discipline of clinical psychology has traditionally allied itself with prevailing power structures: it emerged from within psychiatric institutions offering a scientific mantle to substantiate autocratic and arbitrary psychiatry; it opted for pre-defined research and knowledge methodologies in order to obtain academic legitimacy; it has incorporated the psychotherapeutic paradigm to gain accessibility and popularity; it has adopted classificatory systems to better serve corporate organisations and social institutions; it embraced a dubious definition of normativity to garner support from socio-emotional structures such as the family, matrimony, friendships and various collaborative/intimate interpersonal enterprises.
This talk will argue that in its search for respectability the discipline has betrayed its client-group by uncritically anchoring itself within the status quo, offering a protective scientific veneer to political, social and interpersonal oppression.
I further argue that the whole purpose of clinical psychology should be to identify, recognise and map out the extent of personal vulnerability and interpersonal victimisation within primary socio-emotional systems. To do so requires a separation between the rather incidental carriers (users) and the problem in itself (a fundamental offshoot of social fabric and life’s tapestry) and an understanding of the problem in its own right and its wider interactional context.
Hence an alternative understanding of mental illness, distress, deviancy and disability would highlight the inadvertent effects of existing socio-emotional institutions and the interpersonal domain, in the creation and maintenance of clinical symptomatology.
In a time when the NHS is undergoing dramatic upheavals, clinical psychologists need to ask themselves whether they should continue to identify with ever more subtle power structures in order to retain their image and power, or whether they wish to primarily and unreservedly ally themselves with the clients they serve.
Dr Joel Yoeli is a consultant clinical psychologist with over 20 years of experience working within the NHS. He received his PhD in psychosomatics and initially specialised in childhood psychosis. He ran a child psychiatric ward in Jerusalem for 5 years during which time he succeeded in dramatically reducing use of medication, removing the use of electric shock treatment and substantially increasing the levels of independent living and integration within the community. He has also worked in therapeutic communities working with adults and children considered to be suffering from chronic schizophrenia. He came to Newcastle in 1987 to set up services for autistic children before branching into community work specialising in childhood behavioural problems. He is also a member of Newcastle Philosophy Society and has written extensively on the intersection between philosophy and psychology
Date: Monday 5 December, 2011. 7pm
Venue: The Cedar Room, Upstairs at The Dog and Parrot, 52 Clayton Street West, Newcastle, NE1 4EX (2 minutes walk from Central Station).
For further information, email Anthony Morgan.