Medical Health Psychology

Medical health psychology is a branch of clinical psychology that examines the relationship between the mind and body, as well as the influence of disease and social factors on mental health. Continue reading to learn more about the degree and licensing requirements for medical health psychologists.

Is Medical Health Psychology for Me?

Career Overview

According to the Academy of Medical Psychology, medical or medical health psychology is a specialized area of service devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of a number of behavioral challenges and mental disorders. These can include anxiety, eating or mood disorders, addictions, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or obesity. Areas of clinical practice and research may also examine the effects of caffeine and nicotine, organ transplants or trauma on patients or focus on genetics or neuropsychology. As a clinical psychologist, you may engage in cognitive behavioral, individual or family therapy, or help patients acquire skills in pain management (www.amphome.org).

Areas of Specialization

Areas of specialization associated with clinical psychology include psychopharmacology, psychotherapy and psychophysiology. You might also choose to focus on biopsychosocial modeling and social psychology.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2013, clinical, counseling and school psychologists earned a mean annual salary of $72,710. Nationwide, employment of clinical, counseling and school psychologists overall was expected to increase by an average rate of 11% between 2012 and 2022, as noted by the BLS (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in Medical Health Psychology?

Educational Requirements

The minimum educational requirement for medical psychologists is completion of a doctoral program, which can lead to a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Clinical Psychology or Medical Psychology or a Ph.D. in Psychology (Psych.D.). In general, the programs can take approximately five years to complete and are designed to prepare students for careers in education or research, or as practicing clinical psychologists in health care settings. Once enrolled, students take courses in assessment and interventions, biology, general psychology and methodology. In particular, they may study developmental and social psychology, ethics, psychopharmacology and statistics. They'll also learn how to conduct clinical interviews and personality assessments.

The programs typically culminate in a dissertation, the result of independently conducted research activities. Students also participate in practicums and a supervised internship, through which they learn how to diagnose and treat patients and become familiar with intervention techniques.

Post-Doctoral Fellowships

Some aspiring medical psychologists pursue post-doctoral fellowships or training programs specific to the field. Although each program is different, areas of specialization can include clinical child or clinical health psychology; some professionals may specialize in clinical neuropsychology.

Licensing Requirements

All 50 states and Washington D.C. require clinical or counseling psychologists employed as independent practitioners to have a license. Individuals who use the term 'psychologist' as a professional title must also have a certification or license. Although each state has its own requirements, which can vary according to the position, applicants must hold a doctoral degree in psychology and complete a supervised internship and residency. Additional requirements include between one and twp years of experience in the field and a satisfactory score on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology.

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