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Clinical Diagnosis and Treatment Essay

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Updated: May 15th, 2020


The focus of this paper is on clinical assessment, diagnosis and treatment of abnormal behaviors of patients. Clinical assessments strive to determine why clients behave abnormally by using effective assessment tools. Diagnosis aims to match the known disorders with disorders detected from clients. Finally, treatment focuses on making treatment decisions and determining effectiveness of the preferred interventions. Thus, psychologists must understand abnormal behaviors observed in their clients and use known principles of psychology to treat them.

Questions Description
Clinical Assessment Clinical assessment involves collecting of required data from clients with the aim of obtaining a conclusion on their abnormal behaviors. It is effective for determining the cause of abnormal behaviors in a client. Further, it helps in determining effective interventions. Assessment is idiographic (concentrates on the individual person).
Assessment also assists in evaluating effectiveness of treatment and the client’s progress.
It requires specific tools, which are chosen by psychologists based on their theoretical orientations. Although there are many assessment tools, they have been grouped into clinical interviews, tests and observation. Tools, however, can only be useful when they demonstrate reliability and validity, and they are standardized.
Diagnosis Clinicians rely on all the available information to determine a clinical condition in a client. These attempts however are guided by their theoretical orientations. Once clinicians have obtained assessment data and determined the most possible condition, they proceed to make diagnosis. Diagnosis reflects the determination of a client’s specific disorder or syndrome.
Effective diagnosis must rely on the available classification system of disorders or syndromes. The systems reflect various categories of disorders, related symptoms, their descriptions and other related issues. The DSM-IV-T is one such system.
Clinicians must however observe potential misdiagnosis and possible consequences on clients and their profession.
Treatment Treatment reflects attempts to help a client. Hence, clinicians rely on assessment information and diagnostic outcomes to make a treatment decision. A clinician may apply a combination of personal and nomothetic (general) information in their treatment plans (Seligman 2004). In addition, factors such as theoretical orientation, available research or new knowledge, evidence-based outcomes and empirically supported interventions may also influence the choice of treatment.
It is believed that the chosen treatment should be effective, but it is necessary to determine the effectiveness of the chosen therapy. Therapies may work for some clients but not others. In addition, harmful therapies are also sources of concern for clinicians and their clients.

The role DSM-5 plays in clinical assessment, diagnosis, and treatment

The DSM-5 is an improvement on the DSM-IV-T. It is “a manual for assessment and diagnosis of mental disorders, but it does not contain any information or guidelines for treatment of the listed disorders” (American Psychiatric Association 2014). The first step normally involves identifying the most suitable diagnosis after an assessment has been conducted. Clinicians rely on assessment information obtained from the manual to treat a given mental disorder effectively. In addition, they may also use the manual for certain medical conditions. DSM-5 also helps clinicians to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions. In addition, clinicians use dimensional assessments to evaluate progress of severity in clients based on the treatment administered (American Psychiatric Association 2014).

It currently contains about 400 disorders alongside their description criteria for diagnoses, major clinical features, and associated features that are common, but not always, found during assessment and diagnosis (American Psychiatric Association 2014).

The effectiveness of DSM-5 in assessment and diagnosis is determined through its reliability and validity. It is noted that DSM-5 is far much better in terms of reliability and validity relative to the previous versions and is therefore most likely to overcome concerns noted with the previous editions (Wakefield 2013).

Examples of abnormal psychology seen in community

The use of drugs and alcohol is an example of abnormal psychology common in a community. These substances when used have abilities to alter the normal body and mental functions. Although several substances that can cause harm to the body are common, alcoholic substances are the most common in most communities. They have impacts on behaviors and mood of people who abuse them. Alcoholism and misuse of other drugs are now the most prevalent problem in communities. Substance abuse may cause temporary mental disorders such as intoxication. In addition, chronic excessive abuse of substances could result in disorder. In fact, several psychological features or challenges have been linked to drug dependence and abuse. Craving is a common feature among alcoholics. Craving causes psychological dependence as drug addicts take more drugs to control their feelings.

Clinicians can manage such mental disorders that result from substance abuse and dependence. While such individuals may try to stop without assistance, self-control efforts are not effective and normally short-lived. Thus, only professional assistance is necessary.


The paper has focused on clinical assessment, diagnosis and treatment of abnormal behaviors of clients as core elements of abnormal psychology. These three elements are interdependent and sequential when used in cases of mental disorders. The DSM-5 has been introduced to assist clinicians with clinical assessments, diagnoses and treatment of identified conditions. It is noteworthy that clinicians considered several reliable and valid factors to determine effective treatment. Alcoholism and abuse of other substances are example of abnormal psychology in communities.


American Psychiatric Association. . 2014. Web.

Seligman, Linda. Diagnosis and Treatment Planning in Counseling (3rd ed.). New York: Plenum, 2004. Web.

Wakefield, Jerome C. “DSM-5: An overview of changes and controversies.” Clinical Social Work Journal, 41 no. 2, (2013): 139–154. Web.

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