Working in the Fascinating Field of Health Psychology
Obtaining a masters health psychology degree opens the door to a vast opportunity for service within the healthcommunity. The field of healthy psychology, an outgrowth of clinical psychology, branches out into work withinhospitals and clinics, public health initiatives, community concerns and even governmental agencies. Thebiosocial model upon which this science is based looks at the biological, environmental, cultural andpsychological factors that surround people and assesses their influence upon the physical and mental wellbeingof those living within that environment.A health psychologist is constantly trying to identify factors that influence human health within the social andphysical environment. This may involve studying religiousinfluences, social class pressures and cultural traditions.Experiments and studies are often a part of understanding howmaximum health and wellness can be achieved. Headaches,alcohol abuse, sleep problems, promiscuity and poor nutritionare just some of the factors that may be interfering with ahealthy quality of life. Identifying and promoting the behaviorsand attitudes that can create a satisfying and healthy lifestyle isthe arena of health psychology.Graduates with a masters health psychology degree who choosethe clinical specialty may find themselves working alongsideother health professionals in hospitals and clinics, both private and public. Their focus is often on behavioralmedicine and psychiatry. Working with people withaddictive behaviors, stressful lifestyles, weight problems orrisky life choices are all be part of this field.A person with a masters health psychology degree can also earn entry level positions in public health care. Thisfield involves examining populations for variable connections between relevant psychosocial factors and overallhealth issues. Public health workers may target atrisk groups. They will also be involved with educating thepublic, as in antismoking campaigns and with influencing policy change where necessary to more adequatelyaddress identified needs.A third field of interest to graduates with a masters health psychology degree is communitybased health care.Identifying communities at risk through disease, rampant poverty, and violence creates a challenging opportunityto promote both mental and physical health improvements, which in turn, tend to impact the community itself and bring about more comprehensive and longlasting results.The areas of social justice and environmental change are further extensions of the psychology of communityinvolvement. Health inequalities are a key issue as governments struggle with providing adequate health care toall races, ethnic groups and genders within their control. A masters healthpsychology degreeis an important steptowards the doctorate degree usually required to work within this field. However, the personal benefits that comefrom being an agent for change are incredibly rewarding.