While one’s physical health and mental condition may seem separate notions, they are deeply intertwined. Therefore, a special field appeared to examine this connection in a variety of settings. Health psychology is applied in clinical settings, as well as in a range of studies that evaluate the impact of behavior on one’s health, guiding in respect to illness prevention. The purpose of this paper is to examine the field of health psychology in terms of employment opportunities and requirements, as well as modern trends.
Health Psychologists’ Area of Expertise
Health psychology is a broad field that comprises a large number of aspects. Shaw (n.d.) notes that it examines the correlation between one’s health and mental, sociological, and behavioral factors. Therefore, health psychology is applied in a variety of settings, performing clinical functions, and research. In general, clinicians “engage in clinical encounters where they attempt to determine the best behavior change approach for that particular patient” (Davidson & Cheung, 2017, p. 292). O’Connor (2020) notes that patients demonstrate a range of variables depending on their gender, ethnicity, social status, and education. In other words, a health psychologist’s objective is to analyze the impact of the aforementioned variables on an individual’s health and consider them in terms of improving treatment. Shaw (n.d.) divides the field into five major groups: “clinical health psychology, community health psychology, critical health psychology, public health psychology, and occupational health psychology” (para. 4). Overall, this area of expertise encompasses various aspects of a person’s life and, with a correct approach, serves to improve significantly one’s quality of life.
Health Psychology Employment Opportunities
The position of a health psychologist requires a particular level of education due to its importance. Shaw (n.d.) states that higher education degree is a requirement in the majority of cases. Moreover, most students opt for a doctoral degree and obtain a professional certification later, which allows specialists to work with patients directly during counseling or in a clinical environment. A health psychologist’s career usually begins with a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. Pepperdine University and Southern New Hampshire University offer relevant Master’s programs for those who desire to pursue this professional path (“Becoming a Health Psychologist”, n.d.) As for further employment, Las Vegas, Nevada, does not have many opportunities at the moment. Most of the offers are part-time jobs with a salary of about thirty-eight thousand dollars per year. Therefore, it is not yet a desirable path in this particular area.
A career path in this area usually consists of several steps, beginning with a bachelor’s degree. Students interested in becoming health psychologists are strongly recommended to complete a relevant doctoral program as well (Shaw, n.d.). In addition, while health psychology studies used to be incorporated into broader degrees, a range of particular educational programs are offered nowadays. Furthermore, pre-and postdoctoral internships are usually required to begin one’s career in this area, and they are provided by a large number of healthcare facilities. Professional licensing is another important requirement for psychologists willing to work directly with their patients. Certification is done upon completing education and renewed regularly. Therefore, the position of a health psychologist has serious requirements for candidates, which highlights the importance of this job in modern society.
Besides a particular level of education and internship, an eligible candidate should demonstrate valuable traits for a specialist in this area. Shaw (n.d.) puts active listening on top of the list, which is fair, as hearing the patient and understanding their needs is the key to successful therapy. Moreover, a health psychologist must be able to analyze complex problems and propose viable solutions while looking at the issues from a logical perspective. Shaw (n.d.) notes that a specialist in this area must be service-oriented, which consists of putting patients’ needs in front of everything and focusing on improving their lives. Finally, a health psychology specialist should demonstrate excellent communication skills. Consequently, students aspiring to succeed in the discussed field should work on a range of indispensable personal qualities along with the required level of education.
Research Summary and Conclusion
Generally speaking, health psychology practitioners examine the connection between one’s mental and physical health. Unlike ancient civilizations, today’s science separates illnesses of body and mind as different entities, but health psychology does not contradict this idea. Its concept correlates with the biopsychosocial model, meaning that diseases are caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors. Several components of the model align with the position of a health psychologist. While counselors cannot work with the biological aspects directly, their job is to analyze the patient’s psychological factors in terms of their influence on their physical health. For example, they can identify some of the factors in the individual’s life that cause stress and stress-related disorders. In turn, the factors in question may be connected to social aspects, such as one’s employment status, family relations, or peer pressure. Therefore, health psychologists work with the psychological side of the model to determine its influence on the biological one.
Social aspects play an increasing role in modern psychology. Today’s society is characterized by its diversity in terms of cultures, ethnicities, and other variables. Accordingly, adequate psychological help should take into account the social aspects of the patient’s life, which is the reason why a qualified counselor should be flexible and adjust to the patients’ needs. They must also possess strong communication skills, including active listening, to establish a connection with their patients. Overall, this is a rapidly developing field, which offers great opportunities for those who decide to pursue it, while being demanding in terms of the specialists’ qualifications and credentials.
Becoming a health psychologist. (n.d.).Web.
Davidson, K. W., & Cheung, Y. K. (2017). Envisioning a future for precision health psychology: Innovative applied statistical approaches to N-of-1 studies. Health Psychology Review, 11(3), 292–294. Web.
O’Connor, D. B. (2020). The future of health behaviour change interventions: Opportunities for open science and personality research. Health Psychology Review, 14(1), 176–181. Web.
Shaw, S. (n.d.). Careers in health psychology. Web.