The goal of health psychology is to study the psychological processes underlying health, illness and health care, and to apply these findings to the promotion and maintenance of health, the analysis and improvement of the health care system and health policy formation, the prevention of illness and disability, and the enhancement of outcomes for those who are ill or disabled.
Career in Health Psychology
What is it Health Psychology?Show content
Health psychologists are specially trained to help people deal with the psychological and emotional aspects of health and illness, along with promoting healthier lifestyles.
Many of the current health challenges we face need to be addressed by illness prevention, health promotion and anticipatory care. Therefore, not only do we need to work to understand and support people with the psychological difficulties they may face from having physical health conditions, but we also need to understand and ameliorate the impact of lifestyle on health.
Most chronic diseases, including cancer, CHD, and diabetes, are related in part to health behaviour. Improving health behaviour is therefore a key challenge. Health psychologists are specialists in health behaviour change and working with people who have physical health conditions to help them cope and adjust to illnesses and treatments.
A health psychology approach adds value to programmes designed to improve health, improves our understanding of the complexities of barriers to change, and can more effectively design and implement evidence-based interventions to change health behaviour, targeting individuals, social groups and communities.
What do Health Psychologists do in Scotland?Show content
There’s a lot that we do as Health Psychologists in Scotland.
Health Psychologists in Scotland are involved in various areas of work. For example
An innovative Health Psychology Consultancy Service in North Lanarkshire won a national award at the Herald Society Awards in the Health and Social Care Integration category.
Two Trainee Health Psychologists (Heather Locke and Catherine Murray) have been involved in the development of this service, especially in terms of how it met the BPS Qualification in Health Psychology Competencies
Senior Health Psychologists Professor Marie Johnston and Diane Dixon were seconded to work in the Scottish Government to develop a Health Behaviour Change Competency Framework.
Long Term Conditions
Health Psychologist are involved in the multidisciplinary treatment of long term conditions such as cancer, diabetes, COPD, pain and cardio-vascular disease. Within this multidisciplinary treatment, health psychology focuses on developing and delivering effective self-management interventions to help to reduce the risk of and/or manage the condition, along with supporting patients to adjust to and cope with living with a long term condition and associated treatments and side effects.
Health Psychologists in Scotland are involved in innovative work in primary care, working alongside integrated care teams, including a GP, nurse, health care assistant and administrator (based on the Alaskan 'Nuka' model). Health Psychologists work closely with the teams, supporting patients to manage their long term conditions, make lifestyle changes and cope with stress. In this model, Health Psychologists offer brief, focused interventions and support the wider team to support patients with these challenges.
One area Health Psychologists in Scotland work in is Public Health. To better understand the range of work undertaken by Health Psychologists in Scotland, and to explore future potential, a survey was undertaken in 2014.
In Scotland, there is a national training scheme run by NHS Education for Scotland in conjunction with local NHS boards.
- A CBT intervention to reduce anxiety, depression and breathlessness in people with COPD
- Behaviour Change Intervention for Looked After Young People
- Behavioural Health Consultants in Integrated Primary Care
- Developing a Lifestyle Behaviour Change Intervention for a Pilot Diabetes Metabolic Surgery Service
- Health Psychology Liaison Service for Health and Social Care
- Physical Activity Consultation Service
- The Heart Manual Department
- Using Health Psychology to Develop Education and Training for Healthcare
- Using Health Psychology to Develop Education and Training for Healthcare: Patient Safety Projects
One of our main aims is to support the continuing professional development of Members at various levels of career and experience.
We do this is a number of ways, including the provision of BPS accredited workshops and communicating with Members to assess CPD needs.
To contact the Professional Development Lead please email [email protected]
The Professional Development Sub-Committee works in collaboration with the BPS to provide workshops that are relevant and interesting to DHP Members.
Could you run a Workshop?
Every year the DHP CPD Subcommittee host three workshops specifically for health psychologists. We are now looking for proposals from DHP members for workshops for the forthcoming year. Please email the CPD lead for deadline dates if you are interested in submitting a workshop proposal.
If you have a topic, expertise or experience you would like others to learn from, we would love to hear from you!
We will consider all proposals and all topics are welcome. However, the recent survey on learning needs of DHP members showed that most popular areas of knowledge that the members are particularly interested in are:
Research methods (quantitative, qualitative and advanced methods)Intervention skills-oriented workshops (covering clinical and/or therapeutic skills for health psychology practice)
To discuss ideas please email [email protected]
The Society provides resources and information to help further your career in psychology on its Become a Psychologist page.
The information on offer includes details and advice about: