What is health psychology?

Health psychology is a rapidly evolving area of psychology and is defined as the practice and application of psychological methods studying both behavior and behavioral beliefs around health, healthcare and illness

The subject aims to apply scientifically based psychological knowledge to the promotion, maintenance and analysis of the improvement, prevention and enhancement of overall health. Health psychology explores health by focusing on the biopsychosocial model of health: integrating biological, psychological and social factors and considering how they contribute to overall health. In order to understand the biopsychosocial model of health, it is important to consider each factor and how they contribute to health behavior or ill health.

A biological emphasis of the model may consider the role of genetics on an illness, for example the knowledge that diabetes or cancer can be passed on genetically from mother to daughter. Apsychological focus of health behavior or illness may state that a stressed individual is not stressed due to genetics, but instead is stressed due to their thoughts and cognitions regarding the situation they deem stressful. Lastly, an example of social factors impacting on health may be that an individual cannot afford a gym membership and therefore cannot go to the gym to lose weight

What is a health Psychologist?

Health psychologists offer psychological therapy, which can involve cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), rational emotive behavioral therapy (REBT), motivational interviewing, relaxation techniques, behavior change model or an integrative approach. Psychological therapy aims to create solutions to health related issues, and improve any coping strategies an individual may already have. The health psychologist will focus on the relationship between the patients’ thoughts, feelings and behavior or behavioral beliefs. Additionally, therapy will ensure both patient and therapist work closely together as a team, building a trusting rapport in order to combat the present issues

Health psychology, although a newer form of psychology than others, is needed to combat the multitude of behavioral conditions apparent in society today. Health psychologists are able to help with a variety of problems:

  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Weight Management
  • Sexual Problems
  • Long Term Conditions
  • Life Skills
  • General Wellbeing