What Can I Do with a Health Psychology Degree?

With a doctoral degree in health psychology, you can become licensed and practice health psychology in a number of professional settings. As a health psychologist, you'll study how people's mental and emotional states affect their physical health, and you may offer treatment methods to help patients improve their quality of life. Read on for career options available with a health psychology degree. Schools offering Health Psychology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Health Psychology Degrees

While studying health psychology, you'll learn how physical health is affected by biological, social and psychological variables, such as attitude, behavior and social conditioning. Although you won't be qualified to practice health psychology with an undergraduate degree, bachelor's degree programs in health psychology can prepare you to pursue a master's and a doctoral degree on the path toward professional licensure. Additionally, an undergraduate degree can prepare you for entry-level occupations in social services, health education and human resources.

Master's and doctoral degree programs in health psychology may include a set of foundational psychology courses, like social psychology, biology psychology, developmental psychology, psychopathology, ethics and research design. Courses specific to health psychology may include:

  • Stress and coping
  • Behavioral nutrition
  • Physical fitness assessment
  • Wellness coaching
  • Neuropsychology
  • Behavioral medicine
  • Cognitive behavior therapy
  • Health promotion
  • Community health interventions

Health psychology graduate degree programs may offer specialization areas, like clinical and community health psychology. Graduate students typically have to complete coursework, laboratory work, practical training, comprehensive exams and research. At the master's level, you would typically need to write a thesis, and if you are in a doctoral program, your research would culminate in a publishable dissertation.

Professional Requirements

In order to practice as a health psychologist, you'll generally be required to earn a doctoral degree in health psychology and become licensed in your state. Beyond the doctorate, licensure requirements typically include completion of an internship, professional experience and a passing score on an exam. After you become licensed, you can practice in one of several specializations, including clinical health psychology, public health psychology and occupational health psychology.

Careers

Health psychologists may work with patients suffering from a range of health problems, like cardiac disease, pain, obesity, diabetes, asthma and depression. They may also work with individuals suffering from substance abuse, helping them quit smoking or other heavy drugs, or they may campaign for improved sexual health to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases or reduce teenage pregnancies. You could work at health care facilities, government agencies or universities.

Your job duties involve performing health and psychology assessments and interviewing patients to develop a diagnosis. Then, you may use psychological interventions, like health education, biofeedback and social support groups, to treat your patients. Also, you may spend some of your time conducting research.

Clinical and Public Health Psychology

Clinical health psychologists research how variables such as behavior, emotion, socialization and biology affect physical health. As a clinical health psychologist, you will develop treatment programs to help patients adopt healthy lifestyles. Health psychology research can be applied to the public health field by analyzing the emotional, behavioral, cultural and social factors associated with public health issues.

Occupational Health Psychology

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), occupational health psychology is a relatively new branch of psychology that focuses on how occupational stresses can cause health problems. Occupational health psychologists study various occupations and workplaces to find ways to prevent and reduce work injury and illness. As an occupational health psychologist, you may research factors affecting work-related health issues and counsel employees on how they can improve their psychological and physical well-being.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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