This book is the place to look for an account of the history of clinical psychology, as it presents the first historical account of the discipline in Britain. It provides an understanding of the developments in the field which reflect the professions of the contributors to the book. These include historians, academic sociologists and academic psychologists, although the vast majority of authors are clinical psychologists who have played a significant role in the development of the profession over the past 30 years.
Edited volumes in the history of science often receive criticism for being somewhat inconsistent, in terms of the information presented in each chapter and the styles in which they are written. This stems from the variety of different contributors and, as the editors have alluded to in the closing pages, the tendency for authors who actively practise the profession to slip into uncritical ‘Whiggish’ narratives on how the profession has progressed. However, the lack of interest in clinical psychology by professional historians has effectively left its vibrant and often fascinating history to those who practise it. One slight criticism of this work is that there is often a tendency to overlook other professions on which psychologists undoubtedly relied as the field developed since the Second World War. For instance, John Hall's chapter is the only section which briefly touches upon the fact that clinical psychologists often rely on the help of psychiatrists, occupational therapists, social workers and mental health nurses, on whom there is a relative wealth of literature, and whose professions have, similar to clinical psychology, rapidly developed since the introduction of the British welfare state in the late 1940s (see for example McCrae & Nolan's 2016 book The Story of Nursing in British Mental Hospitals: Echoes from the Corridors).
However, the relatively eclectic nature of this book does reveal some fascinating aspects of the profession, especially on how it emerged from the eugenicist ideas of the late-19th and early 20th centuries and how the National Health Service was essential for the rapid development of clinical psychology in Britain. This work successfully highlights important individuals to the profession who have otherwise been overlooked, a prime example being William McDougall (1871–1938), who was one of the ‘most celebrated’ psychologists in the first half of the 20th century but has now been largely forgotten by professionals in the field. This book should become a central resource for anyone wishing to take forward the history of clinical psychology.