CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY IN SPAIN

Clinical psychology in Spain is included into the European and north-American psychological tradition. Nonetheless, it is important to highlight certain characters and events in its institutionalization process.

First of all, we would have to underline the figure of Francisco Giner de los Ríos (1839-1915), founder of Free Teaching Institution (whose Newsletter had a section on Psychology and Anthropology) and author -together with E. Soler and A. Calderon- of Summary Lectures in Psychology, written in 1874 and reviewed in 1877, where an updating of current psychology was offered in Spanish language (mainly for high school students). Following this line of academic-scientific establishment of clinical psychology in Spain, we must mention Luis Simarro Lacabra (1852-1921), who was the first teacher of the Experimental Psychology's Chair created and sponsored by the Universidad Complutense of Madrid inside the Faculty of Sciences.

But, the gratest amount of activity took place at the early years of twentieth century when the Offices and Institutes of Applied Psychology and Psychothecnics were created. These institutions became the Institute of Professional Advice (created in Barcelona in 1917) with a Section on Psychometrics directed, since 1919, by Emilio Mira y López who held the management of the whole Institute in 1927. Emilio Mira y López is considered as one of the founders of Applied Psychology in Spain, particularly of Psychometrics and Psichothecnics, fields where he reached an international recognition. Besides, Emilio Mira y López occupied the first chair of Psychiatry in Spain, initially sponsored by the University of Barcelona in 1933. At that time, the National Institute of Psychothecnics was created also in Madrid and was run by José Germain until 1939 (and again since 1956).

In this context of applied psychology, the character of Gonzalo Rodríguez Lafora (1886-1971) should be noticed. He was a psychiatrist and a neuropathologist interested in Child psychopathology and mental hygiene. We must mention here his book titled "Mentally abnormal children", published in 1917, the establishment of the Medical-Pedagogic Institute of Carabanchel in 1925, and overall, the foundation in 1920 (together with Sacristán and Ortega) of the journal "Archives of Neurobiology", which was first titled "Archives of Neurobiology, Psychology, Physiology, Histology, Neurology and Psychiatry". In the front page of the journal's first issue, Ortega, Turró, Simarro, Viqueira and Mira appeared as psychologists, apart from eminent physiologists as Cajal, Novoa and Marañón and psychiatrists and neuropathologists as Lafora, Sacristán and others.

After the Spanish Civil War, which interrupted and dispersed the progress of institutional psychology, the Chair of Experimental Psychology above mentioned was moved to the Faculty of Philosophy and given to Priest Barbado, who made a scholastic withdrawal but also planned to set up a Psychology Institute in the frame of the Spanish Council for Scientific Research. This project was not carried out until 1948, when an Experimental Psychology Department was created in the Spanish Council for Scientific Research, directed by José Germain (1897-1986). Before that date, José Germain had already founded the Journal of General and Applied Psychology -the most veteran of Spanish psychology journals- modifying a previous journal named "Psychothecnics" which was created in 1939 inside the National Institute of Psychothecnics.

This same department in the Spanish Council of Scientific Research was the source of Spanish psychology that would come afterwards by means of Mariano Yela, José Luís Pinillos, Miguel Siguán and others, who put up again Spanish psychology inside the flow of world scientific psychology. Psychologists belonging to this department founded the Spanish Society of Psychology, a professional and scientific association which was included into the International Union of Scientific Psychology from the beginning.

The progressive consolidation of Psychology inside University starts with the School of Psychology and Psychothecnics, established in the Universidad Complutense of Madrid in 1953 in order to train "research psychologists" and "expert psychothecnicians". This School was responsable for the raising of first Spanish graduates in Psychology and therefore the existence of university graduates who would practice their profession in very different applied areas. About 1960, Chairs in Psychology were endowed by several universities, the speciality of psychology was created inside Faculties of Philosophy (precisely in 1969 in the Universidad Complutense of Madrid) and in 1978 the first Faculty of Psychology appeared in Spain, setting up a model which was going to spread to other universities in Spain.

In the second half of the seventies, Psychology was coming into an accelerated expansion whose outcome was an increasing activity in scientific research such as anyone could see in the numerous specialized journals published at the time -among which we must highlight Análisis y Modificación de Conducta (Behavior Analysis and Modification), founded by Vicente Pelechano in 1974-, the demographic explosion of students interested in psychology (from 2.400 in 1969-1970 academic year until 56.000 in 1995-1996's) and the creation of the Colegio Oficial de Psicólogos (COP) in 1980, an official organization which unites Spanish scientific and professional psychologists.

The COP is formed by regional organizations (fourteen) and, from 4.500 fellows in 1981, it has gone up to 23.000 members in 1995. Due to political and legal reasons, actually there is an independent association of psychologists in Cataluña named Collegi Oficial de Psicòlegs de Catalunya with about 6.500 members. If we add the members of both associations (near 30.000 members) we could see that psychological organizations in Spain become the second gratest organization in the world in number of affiliates. Now there is a legal project in course to unify both organizations within a Council of Psychology Organizations of Spain.

About 30% of COP's members working are dedicated specifically to Clinical and Health Psychology as their main activity. It is necessary to be aware that most of psychologists linked to other activity fields of applied psychology practice clinical and health psychology in one way or the other, being this late percentage a short appraisal of reality. Probably, about 50% of working psychologists develop some role concerned with clinical and health psychology.

In order to complete this brief summary, it is necessary to mention the development of internship psychologist training system in clinical and health psychology.. This system, which had a regional range in the beginning, has been assumed by state authorities since 1993, and consists of a sanitary devices three years training period, previously credited, with a training program supervised by expert clinicians. The internship psychologist has a salary and, during the training period, must follow a specific training and working plan in different sanitary devices. At state level, there is a control commission, in charge of the accreditation system for programs and places, created by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Public Health in 1995. The commission's creation could be considered as an official support by Spanish Government to the specialty in clinical and health psychology.


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