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Health psychology is a broad subspecialty devoted to bridging the gap between medical care and mental health. Health psychologists support patients with minor to severe conditions, helping them deal with the symptoms and challenges that arise from their illnesses. Through psychological evaluation and psychotherapy, health psychologists seek to improve patients' quality of life.
Health psychologists may operate in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics, and rehabilitation centers. Patients can be referred to health psychologists by their primary or specialty physician. Health psychologists may treat patients suffering from chronic conditions, (such as type one diabetes) as well as patients with acute injuries. Some health psychologists specialize in a specific area, such as serving oncological (cancer) patients or veterans. In order to become a health psychologist, a psychologist must complete an additional year of training.
Health psychologists will conduct psychological screenings, where they ask patients questions and assess potential risk factors. Depending on the results of this evaluation, a treatment method may be prescribed; some health psychology treatments and therapeutic solutions include:
Patients may also be asked to attend group support sessions, where patients with similar conditions may discuss their experiences. Families may participate in therapy activities to learn how to best help their loved ones. Health psychologists can collaborate with health counselors and patient care teams to offer personalized support.