What is Clinical Health Psychology?

clinical health psychologist

Clinical Health Psychology is often referred to as Behavioral Medicine, Medical Psychology and Psychosomatic Medicine. This is a specialty field of psychology that is concerned primarily with meeting the needs of the overlap between physical and emotional illness and how to understand and treat this overlap.

What are the Primary Responsibilities of a Clinical Health Psychology?

The role of a Clinical Health Psychologist is to apply empirical scientific knowledge of the interplay between behavioral, emotional, cognitive, social and biological components in health and disease. The overarching goal of Clinical Health Psychology is:

  • The promotion and maintenance of health and well being, both physically and psychologically.
  • The prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of illness and disability.
  • The improvement of the health care system and direct patient care

Clinical Health Psychologists work to minimize major chronic diseases such as, AIDS, cancer, heart disease, chronic pain, chronic mental illness, addiction and diabetes.

Where Do Clinical Health Psychologists Typically Work?

Clinical Health Psychologists work in an array of settings including hospitals, health care clinics, private companies and universities. Some health psychologists work in settings that specialize in one area of direct health care such as oncology, pain management, addiction treatment, women’s health and smoking cessation programs. Health psychologists may also work in governmental agencies at many levels, participating in community health programs or creating and implements various public and health policies.

What Training is Needed to Become a Clinical Health Psychologist?

Most Clinical Health Psychologists earn a generalized undergraduate psychology degree and specialize in Health Psychology once they begin graduate training. While some states allow Master’s Level practitioners to earn licensure, most states still require a doctoral degree for licensure.

How Much Money Can I Earn As a Clinical Health Psychologist?

The 2006-07 United States Bureau of Labor Statistics edition of the Occupational Outlook Handbook, Clinical Health Psychologists earn, on average, $40,000 when entering the field, and approximately $85,000 when at a more advanced level of their career.

Are There Any Professional Organizations for Clinical Health Psychology?

Clinical Health Psychologists in the US can earn specialty certification in Clinical Health Psychology by the American Board of Clinical Health Psychology (ABCHP). The ABCHP is a member of the specialty board of the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP). This is an accrediting body that is responsible for overseeing the education, training, and experience requirements for specialty areas in psychology.

Health psychology is a growing sub-field in psychology. As more people suffer from long-term illness, the need for clinicians to help guide people through the difficult process rises steadily. Trained professionals in Health Psychology are being employed by hospitals, private practices, pain management centers, rehabilitation centers and many other medical settings. By having these professionals on staff, the medical and emotional needs of patients can be met at the same time. Clinical Health Psychologists serve a variety of beneficial purposes for individuals with physical, emotional and psychological illnesses.