Critical Clinical Psychology

Steven Coles and Aisling Mannion

“Critical, or questioning perspectives encourage us to consider whose agenda and interests are being served... and who has access and influence over the wielding of power”.

(Diamond, 2008, p. 174)

Introduction and Definitions

The British Psychological Society’s (BPS) Division of Clinical Psychology (DCP) is 50 years old in 2016 (Hall, Pilgrim, & Turpin, 2015), though the profession itself is older. It is a profession which grew up within the context of the National Health Service (NHS) and has altered as the NHS and the politics surrounding it have changed. A precise definition of clinical psychology is difficult as there are a diversity of models, opinions and approaches from within the profession. Clinical psychology can appear to be insecure in its position and status, perhaps due to its relatively young age and working in the context of more established professions, particularly medicine, in the NHS (Boyle, 2011). One consequence of this anxiety is ambivalence towards issues such as power and social context, areas central to critical psychology. This chapter will consider the key aspects of clinical psychology and critical psychology, critique the claims of clinical psychology and reflect on alternative perspectives and practices for the profession. It will focus mainly on

S. Coles (*) • A. Mannion

Nottinghamshire Healthcare Foundation NHS Trust, Nottingham, UK © The Author(s) 2017

B. Gough (ed.), The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Social Psychology, DOI 10.1057/978-1-137-51018-1_27

British clinical psychology within adult mental health services (see Latchford & Melluish, 2010, for an international perspective on clinical psychology; and Reich, Riemer, Prilleltensky, & Montero, 2007, for a global overview of community/critical psychology).

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