The Cape Town Child Guidance Clinic, 1935-1971 : an historical analysis

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The study traced certain themes in the history of the Child Guidance Clinic during the period 1935 to 1971, in order to support the following hypotheses: (1) The establishment and development of the Clinic corresponded to the rise and growth of clinical psychology in South Africa. (2). The development of clinical psychology in this country reflected international developments in the field. (3) The practice of psychology was initially ensconced in education. (4) The role of the psychologist expanded in conjunction with the expansion of the psychologists' knowledge base. (5) As a result of the growth in practical and applied psychology, the professionalization of psychology emerged. The study aligned itself generally with those historiographies that view the history of psychology from a contextual approach. The work of Rose (1985) and Van Hoorn (1983) in particular, broadly informed the way in which the study was approached. Archival data consisting of the Clinic's Annual Reports dating from 1935 to 1972 were used as primary sources. A semi-structured interview was conducted with the past director, Dr. Grover. The development of the Clinic was placed within the context of the Mental Hygiene Movement of the early 1900s. An analysis of the Clinic's work illustrated its close involvement in education, in the form of identifying "problem" children arising initially mainly from the school. The importance ascribed to intelligence testing was indicated. The subsequent growth of a base of psychological knowledge and an increased specialist psychological role was then explored in relation to the procedure followed at the Clinic. It was argued that psychologists occupied a dominant position within the Clinic's multi-disciplinary team, their knowledge base became more specialized over time, as shown from an analysis of the classificatory systems used, and that the Clinic succeeded in popularizing psychology to the general public. The development of the Clinic was then placed against the background of the issues of professionalization in South Africa. It was shown how, being situated between university, educational and clinical practice, the Clinic constituted an appropriate setting for the future training of clinical psychologists in South Africa. The developments in clinical psychology in this country were broadly compared to those within the international realm throughout the text.

Bibliography: pages 47-49.