Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Rick Grieve, Sally Kuhlenschmidt, Anthony Paquin, Timothy Thornberry

Degree Program

Doctor of Psychology in Applied Psychology

Degree Type

Doctor of Psychology


The development of therapy as a treatment option for mental health problems has led to the creation of different disciplines. Each discipline has developed its own conceptualization of classification and treatment of mental health problems. These conceptualizations have led to different areas of focus for each of the disciplines, specifically counseling, psychology, and social work. The purpose of this study is to investigate whether these areas of focus influence how each discipline diagnoses. For this study, data was collected by having clinicians provide diagnoses for three fictitious clients. The vignettes for the clients were taken from a psychopathology textbook to ensure agreement with Diagnostic and Statistical Manual diagnostic criteria. The results of this study indicate that there is no significant difference between disciplines of mental health clinicians except in the case of social workers diagnosing depression. Additional findings indicate that consulting with colleagues and/or with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual can increase accuracy in diagnosing. Diagnostic training specific to each discipline does not have a significant impact on diagnostic accuracy or agreement. Training clinicians to utilize diagnostic criteria and to collaboratively with work colleagues on diagnosis can improve diagnostic accuracy.


Clinical Psychology | Counseling Psychology | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Work