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A new conception and subsequent taxonomy of clinical psychological problems


Bakker, G, A new conception and subsequent taxonomy of clinical psychological problems, BMC Psychology, 7 Article 46. ISSN 2050-7283 (2019) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2019 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1186/s40359-019-0318-8


Background: A taxonomy of the objects of study, theory, assessment, and intervention is critical to the development of all clinical sciences. Clinical psychology has been conceptually and administratively dominated by the taxonomy of an adjacent discipline – psychiatry’s Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM). Many have called for a ‘paradigm shift’ away from a medical nosology of diseases toward clinical psychology’s own taxonomy of clinical psychological problems (CPPs), without being able to specify what is to be listed and classified.

Main text: An examination of DSM’s problems for clinical psychology, especially its lack of clinical utility, and a search for the essence of CPPs in what clinical psychologists actually do, leads to the proposal that: The critical psychological-level phenomenon underlying CPPs is the occurrence of ‘problem-maintaining circles’ (PMCs) of causally related cognitions, emotions, behaviours, and/or stimuli. This concept provides an empirically-derived, theory-based, treatment-relevant, categorical, essentialist, parsimonious, and nonstigmatizing definition of CPPs. It distinguishes psychological problems in which PMCs have not (yet?) formed, and which may respond to ‘counseling’, clinical psychological problems in which active PMCs require clinical intervention, and psychopathological problems which are unlikely to be ‘cured’ by PMC-breaking alone.

Conclusion: A subsequent classification and coding system of PMCs is proposed, and expected benefits to research, communication, and the quality of case formulation in clinical psychology are described, reliant upon a development effort of some meaningful fraction of that which has been devoted to the DSM.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:case formulation, clinical psychological problems, functional analysis, mental disorders, symptom networks, problem-maintaining circles, taxonomy, transdiagnostic
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Clinical and health psychology
Research Field:Health psychology
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Other health
Objective Field:Other health not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Bakker, G (Mr Gary Bakker)
ID Code:134058
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:9
Deposited By:Medicine
Deposited On:2019-07-24
Last Modified:2020-12-18
Downloads:14 View Download Statistics

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