Essay on The Founding Father of Clinical Psychology

Essay on The Founding Father of Clinical Psychology

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The era of discovery in psychology was a fast-paced and debatable one as some of the unlikeliest individuals entered into the realm of the new science. Some by accident because of their close work with other fields of science and others with the direct intent to create a new school of thought. During its inception and much of its history, deliberation over how psychology should be defined and what it should encompass filled most of the scholarly printings and closed-door discussions. As a result, in 1894 Lightner Witmer set out to define an applied psychology where help could be given to children with learning disabilities.
Lightner Witmer was born on June 28, 1867, in Philadelphia. His name originates from his paternal great-grandmother, Jane Lightner and although this was his middle name he was known as Lightner growing up. Having grown up in household with a strong emphasis placed on education, Witmer attended college at the University of Pennsylvania, from where he graduated in 1888. Upon graduation he taught English and History at Rugby Academy (McReynolds, 24, 1997). Witmer is noted as once helping a student with what he defined as verbal deafness. This revealed, “that as early as 1889, Witmer was developing a clinical psychological orientation” (McReynolds, pg 25, 1997). It was during this time Witmer’s eventual interest in a clinical approach began to surface.
Eventually, Witmer decided to attend graduate school where he changed his major several times and then took an assistantship under James McKeen Cattell who opened “a laboratory of experimental psychology which focused on individual differences among persons” (Thomas, pg 5, 2009). While settling into his new major of experimental psychology, he learned to conduct ...

... middle of paper ...

...logy would not be the same without his many contributions.

Works Cited

American Psychological Association, Division 12. (2011). Society of clinical psychology.
Retrieved from
Baker, D., (1988). The psychology of Lighter Witmer. Professional School Psychology. 3(2),
McReynolds, P., (1997). Lighter Witmer: His life and times. Washington, DC: American
Psychological Association.
McReynolds, P., (1987). Psychology in retrospect Lighter Witmer little known founder of
clinical psychology. American Psychologist. 42, No. 9, 849-858.
Thomas, H., (2009). Discovering Lightner Witmer: A forgotten hero of psychology. Journal of
Scientific Psychology.
U.S. Census Bureau. (2007). Health care and social assistance. Retrieved from
Witmer, L. (1907b). Clinical psychology. The Psychological Clinic, 1, 1-9.

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