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What Clinical Psychology Might Look Like in 2030

Thoughts that might inspire what we do today.

Key points

  • Personalized medicine promises better results with fewer side effects.
  • Mental health apps of the future will likely use artificial intelligence to help users select from a wider range of approaches.
  • Prospective parents may soon have gene therapy options to boost their child's chances of good mental and physical health.
Thomas Hawk, Flickr, CC 2.0
Source: Thomas Hawk, Flickr, CC 2.0

Many psychotherapists, counselors, and their clients are pleased with their efforts' efficacy. But even many of them wish for better. The future may provide it.

Here, I present three possible improvements, to offer hope for the future and to suggest ideas for people interested in a career that could further improve humankind's mental health.

Personalized Medication for Depression, Anxiety, Addiction, and More

We’re already hearing about the promise of precision medicine: drugs custom-tailored to an individual’s biochemistry. That should accelerate in the coming years, resulting in better results with fewer side effects. Possibly slower in development would be personalized medication for diseases that present in many ways, such as schizophrenia.

Implications for today: Few careers hold greater promise for humankind than being a researcher who focuses on developing personalized medicine. That might be a wise focus for your or your child’s intelligence and drive.

True, the pioneers in that field will need high-level expertise in mathematics, physics chemistry, and/or biology, but mere mortals will also be needed on the development team and especially during trials, first on the computer, then with animals, and finally with humans. For example, psychologists might well be important in defining parameters of success and then in monitoring the presence of those in trial subjects.

The Mental Health App of 2030

When beginning to use a mental health app, users will likely one day complete an accurate artificial-intelligence-driven questionnaire to help identify the best-suited approach(es.). The choices will extend beyond the current cognitive-behavioral, mindfulness, and meditation. They might include combination methodologies, for example, behavioral guidance, changes of environment, combined with medication, which likely would require approval from a licensed clinician.

Implications for today: In an era that bodes continued or even accelerating income inequality, inexpensive self-help tools are important. Already, the countless mental health apps that exist allow 24-7-365 access for just a few dollars a month. Whether you’re a psychologist, a salesperson, or a researcher, joining the already burgeoning field of mental health app development could be a wave worth riding.

Parenting Counselors Might Expand Their Foci

For example, counselors could help prospective parents explore the pros and cons of gene therapy. For example, perhaps by 2030 but certainly in the following decades, parents may have an option to ensure that their baby has genetic resistance to serious physical and mental diseases; they could even increase predisposition to prosocial behaviors like altruism.

Implications for today: Of course, the aforementioned science/math-oriented researchers will be needed, but because psychological, social, and ethical issues abound in gene therapy, genetic counseling, which already is a robust profession, should play an ever-larger role.

The Takeaway

Future archaeologists that unearthed psychology-related remains from today might find a bottle of Prozac, a fidget spinner, an iPhone with an app urging meditation, a plaque honoring Freud, and another plaque: “I’m good enough. Just be." The future promises better.

Do any of this post's ideas inspire you to try something? Or offer hope for a better tomorrow?

I read this aloud on YouTube.