Dr. Tim Melchert Publishes Book

In April, Melchert published Foundations of Health Service Psychology; An Evidence-Based Biopsychosocial Approach. This volume is a thoroughly revised and updated second edition of his first book. It describes a contemporary science-based approach to the clinical practice of psychology. The scientific understanding of human psychology has advanced dramatically in the last 25 years, and Melchert’s books have focused on the implications of those advances for understanding human nature in general and the process of psychotherapy and behavior change specifically.

For many people, there is no more interesting topic to contemplate than the nature of human nature. We tend to be fascinated with the amazing abilities, soaring intellect, and creativity of the human mind. Some of our personal experiences, with others or when alone, can bring great contentment, joy, and sometimes even exhilaration. But people are also capable of very hurtful and even depraved behavior, and the psychological suffering caused by mental health problems and disorders can be unbearable. 

Melchert notes that until recently, the extremely complicated nature of human psychology was not well understood from a scientific standpoint. Psychologists and other behavioral scientists lacked comprehensive, empirically-validated explanations for the tremendous variability in human behavior, the unconscious nature of most mental activity, or why we can be the nicest of creatures but also the nastiest. The primary reason we lacked those explanations was simply the tremendous complexity of the human mind and brain. Indeed, the human mind and brain are widely regarded to be the most complicated system known to exist in the universe. But major scientific progress has been made in recent decades. Though we are still early in understanding many of the details involved, the neural and behavioral sciences are steadily uncovering the way the mind and brain actually work.

Melchert argues that education, practice, and research in the behavioral health field need to be continually updated so they keep current with the advancing science. Much has been learned about the evolutionary basis for why humans are “designed” the way we are, the importance of childhood experience for later mental and physical health, the prevention and treatment of mental health concerns, and many other topics. Many traditional orientations and practices that guided psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, and social workers in the past are now outdated. The field now takes a much more evidence-based and integrated approach to understanding people’s behavior, personality, psychopathology, and the process of psychotherapy and behavior change.

The contemporary practice of psychology requires a modern understanding of the science of human development, functioning, and behavior change. Melchert’s book shows how this type of understanding can be gained.