• Clinical Psychology: A critical examination

Clinical Psychology: A critical examination

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ISBN 978 1 906254 59 9 (2014)
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Any theory is only as strong as its capacity to withstand sustained critical examination.  The practice of critique must, therefore, form the basis of both good academic work and thoughtful clinical practice.

This new series of ‘Critical Examinations’ looks at the claims of Psychology and various of its sub-disciplines. In this volume Craig Newnes, a leading critical thinker, casts an eagle eye over the profession of clinical psychology — its history, training, practice and research — revealing some troubling home truths, asking some uncomfortable questions and opening debate in areas where we may not have realised debate was to be had. 

Important and recommended reading for all those working , studying or interested in the world of clinical psychology and other fields of mental health care.

Introduction – A kind of biography

Ch 1. The nature of clinical psychology

Ch 2. Problems with theory and research

Ch 3. Problems with assessment: pathologizing difference

Ch 4. Problems with practice: effectiveness and informed consent

Ch 5. Problems with practice: pathologizing childhood

Ch 6. Problems with practice: pathologizing adults

Ch 7. Clinical psychology as a profession

Ch 8. And now? What to do

Abbreviations used in the text
Subject index
Author index

This is not a cold dissection of Clinical Psychology, and I was not left with a sense of hopelessness and despair for my career. Rather, I was imbued with a feeling of optimism, and I look forward to embarking on future placements with a critical eye. I strongly recommend that other Trainee Clinical Psychologists, or indeed anyone considering a career in Psychology, read this book. As upcoming members of the profession it is important to not only understand the past roots of clinical psychology, but also to critically consider its role in the future and reflect on what this means for the part that they will play as its professionals. Victoria J. Bagnall, Clinical Psychologist in training, Staffordshire and Keele Universities.Rread the whole review here

Newnes is largely sympathetic to his profession and their practitioners but pulls no punches in his scrutiny of the frameworks for theory and practice used, and uncovers the largely hidden role that guild interests play in shaping the discourses of the profession. This should be a must read for all practising and training clinical psychologists, and a useful read for anyone involved in delivering mental health services. Manu Bazzano. Reviewed in Self & Society, Vol 41 No 4 Summer 2014

This book calls into question most ideas and research that underpin clinical psychology. Based on the author's extensive experiences as a practicing clinical psychologist, manager in the NHS, editor of the in-house journal Clinical Psychology Forum and his own personal experiences as a man trying to make sense of the world, the book succinctly 'does exactly what it says on the tin'. It is academic without being as polemical as some might have expected and, like all Craig's articles and books, a really good read - it is full of interesting anecdotes and personal accounts of being a clinical psychologist. In a world fogged up with mystification, Craig helps us see through this fog and points people who really want to help others towards strategies based on common sense - a position not at odds with 'the evidence' but at odds with what powerful elites cite as 'the evidence'. Guy Holmes, Clinical Psychologist, author of Psychology in the Real World: community-based groupwork

This thoughtful, scholarly and incisive critique of clinical psychology is a must read for all trainees, trainers and practitioners. This thoroughly readable book is compassionate and  ultimately optimistic – his is not a deconstruction that leaves us without thought or hope for a different future. Craig Newnes is one of a very few clinical psychologists who dares to write both critically and self-reflexively about professional practice – its histories, abuses, legacies, values and promises. Professor Arlene Vetere, Deputy Director PsychD Clinical Psychology, University of Surrey

Craig as always writes from the heart, with warmth, compassion and  a wry humour.  Thus ensures that the book is not only interesting and informative but good fun to read. In his usual personable style the book combines a highly knowledgeable overview and  reflective critique of clinical psychology with glimpses into  his own life. His accounts of his own family merge with accounts of his clients, for example the lady who stuck pins in her arms to get some attention.  Craig dares us to move out of our comfortable professional positions to feel  for our ‘clients’ as human beings, as people suffering and hurting like our own family members. This challenging of the  cosy professional separation  ‘them’ and ‘us’  to instead  consider clinical psychology as about’ us’  is so refreshing and inspiring. Rudi Dallos, Professor of Clinical Psychology and Research Director, Plymouth University

This wide-ranging critique of the theory and practice of contemporary clinical psychology will provoke thoughtful reflection about the profession's past and lead to debate about its future. Dr Dave Harper, Reader in Clinical Psychology, University of East London

Craig Newnes

Craig Newnes is editor of The Journal of Critical Psychology, Counselling and Psychotherapy (formerly Changes), and a commissioning editor and author for our Critical Psychology series. Prior to his retirement he was Director of Psychological Therapies for Shropshire. He has a life time commitment to the NHS and is an outspoken critic of the hypocrisy, self interest, confusion and downright lies which characterise so much of the practise of psychiatry and psychology. He believes that unhappiness is a form of heresy and most of the misery for which people seek help is only amenable to alleviation through changes in their material lives.

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Craig Newnes