What is a Health Psychologist?

Health psychology is a specialty field of psychology that focuses on how mental, emotional, and social factors affect a person’s physical well being. This field is also referred to as medical psychology. Health psychologists are responsible for focusing on the patient’s mental and emotional response after an illness or recovery from an illness.

What are the Responsibilities of a Health Psychologist?

There are four main types of health psychology careers, these include:

Clinical Health Psychology – This is an area of health psychology that focuses on treating individuals. Professionals in the area of clinical health psychology focus on how an individual’s lifestyle and behavior might affect their general health and well-being. These highly skilled psychologists will typically work with individuals to help change bad habits or overcome lifestyle problems that could be significantly impacting their physical health.

Community health psychology – This area of health psychology focuses on the health of a greater community. Professionals pursuing community health psychology careers will generally study the prevalence of diseases in certain communities, as well as possible causes and solutions.

Occupational health psychology – This area involves the individual’s job and their overall state of health. Psychologists in this area may work within a company or other organization to help foster a happier and healthier work environment. This involves things such as restructuring workplace policies or counseling individual employees.

Public health psychology – This area of health psychology involves public and government health policies and programs. These professionals may work with low-income individuals, influence government health policies, or help organize public health awareness campaigns.

Where do Health Psychologists Work?

Where a health psychologist works depends largely upon the area they pursue. The major place of employment is within a healthcare facility, such as a hospitals or healthcare clinic. Health psychologists can also pursue employment in non-profit organizations and government agencies, as well as corporations and universities.

What Kind of Training Do I Need to be a Health Psychologist?

Individuals hoping to pursue health psychology careers must first earn their undergraduate degree in health psychology or general psychology. After earning a four-year bachelor’s level degree, students pursuing a health psychology career will generally earn their master’s degree in health psychology and may even go on to earn their PhD in the field. Higher-level degrees will typically lead to greater employment opportunities and much higher starting salaries.

How Much Does a Health Psychologist Earn?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, psychologists employed in hospitals earned an average salary of $91,810. Those that worked in clinical and counseling positions, earned an average salary of $73,090. Those employed in the field of research and development earned an average salary of $100,790. This means that the rate of salary depends upon a number of factors, including degree level, years of experience, area of employment and region of the country.


Careers in Psychology.org: Health Psychology