|Portrait of Edmond Maitre (The Reader), Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1871)|
In 1948, the Committee on Training in Clinical Psychology released a report that, in part, outlined the personal characteristics and undergraduate preparation ideal for future graduate trainees in clinical psychology. (The overall aim of the report was to outline the "scientist-practitioner" model of training in the field. A lot is said about the "scientist" portion of the report, but the "practitioner" elements don't get as much attention.)
The ability to carry out effectively the combination of functions called for depends upon the clinical psychologist being the right kind of person, a person who has a relevant informal experience background into which has been integrated the proper formal education, both undergraduate and graduate.... Since it is reasonable to expect the clinical psychologist be interested in people and a broad base of human contacts, he should have experiences, particularly in his college years...involving close relations with both ordinary and unusual persons in field, factory, institution, or laboratory. In addition to direct contact with people of various kinds he should have the indirect acquaintance with people that comes from immersion in great literature, because of the emphasis which such portrayals place on the molar aspects of behavior and the insights into human nature they give. (pp. 540-541, emphases added)
So once again, we have as prerequisites for advanced training in the field of clinical psychology: 1) an interest and liking for people; 2) personal experience with people from a wide range of backgrounds (e.g., cloistered in neither affluence nor poverty); and, 3) a habit of reading great literature.