Career Options With a Degree in Health Psychology

What Does Health Psychology Focus On?

Health psychology is the practice of studying the many different psychological and behavioral processes in the areas of illness and healthcare. Its main focus is to understand exactly in what way behavioral, social, cultural, and psychological factors can contribute to our health and to illnesses.

Other terms that can be used interchangeably with the term health psychology include behavioral medicine and medical psychology. The role of a health psychologist is to focus on promoting good health in patients, as well as to prevent and treat illness and diseases. Health psychologists also work to understand how patients cope with and recover from their illnesses.

Some of the most topical issues that health psychologists are currently dealing with include stress reduction; counseling and advice for terminal patients and their loved ones; initiatives to reduce risky sexual behavior; daily nutrition plans; managing weight problems; and hospice care, to name but a few.

Some health psychologists may also work with the government on its health care policies, helping to improve the health care system of the country and provide better systems for working with patients.

Employment Outlook

The employment outlook is positive for the holder of a degree in health psychology, as social issues such as the growing obesity crisis and the projected future growth in the older population mean their services will be in high demand in the years to come.

Career Paths

Psychology Teacher / Lecturer

Psychology lecturers instruct students in the field of psychology. They are also expected to oversee and moderate classroom discussions on topics in the area of psychology, grade exam papers, and create plans for each lesson. Psychology lecturers who are involved in teaching courses at graduate level and may supervise the dissertation work of their students. They may also carry out their own research and publish the findings in journals.

This occupation has an annual mean wage of $76,060, according to the latest data for 2013 (BLS).

Counselor

A counselor helps their patients to explore the emotions that are affecting their behavior, and guide them with the use of talking therapies. Counseling is a confidential role and a counselor  listens to what their client wants to express, showing them empathy and respect during this process. Counselors also help their client work towards agreed goals during these counseling sessions.

Counselors may specialize in a chosen field, such as sexual abuse, guidance, or addiction.

This occupation has an annual mean wage of $43,700, according to the latest data for 2013 (BLS).

Probation Officer

Probation officers are appointed to supervise offenders during the trial process, prison term and after their release from jail. Probation officers may provide their services through the provision of supervision during the probation period, programs to curb offending behavior, and community service. One of the main roles of a probation officer is to support offenders on their journey to once more becoming law-abiding members of their own community. Probation officers work to both ensure the safety of members of the public in their local community and to aid the smooth transition of offenders back into society.

This occupation has an annual mean wage of $52,910, according to the latest data for 2013 (BLS).

Psychotherapist

Psychotherapist work with their patients to help bring about a change in the person’s behavior, thoughts, feelings, or actions through treatment in individual or group settings. Psychotherapists may use techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation, self-help groups, or interactive group therapy to assist their patients when treating different psychological conditions. Psychotherapists may also help their patients to identify patterns in their behavior that may be causing issues in their lives and give them the tools to break the cycle of poor behavior.

This occupation has an annual mean wage of $72,970, according to the latest data for 2013 (BLS).

Social Worker

Social workers use their qualifications in health psychology to understand the problems faced by their patients, to help find solutions to these problems, and to aid society as a whole. Many social workers choose to specialize in a particular area such as addiction counseling, social research, child protection or advocate work. They may work in areas such as hospitals, government agencies or mental health clinics.

This occupation has an annual mean wage of $56,060, according to the latest data for 2013 (BLS).

General Psychologist

Psychologists are trained to study the behavior and mental workings of their patients. They evaluate, diagnose, and treat the conditions of their clients present with. There are a number of different disciplines in which a psychologist can be involved, including counseling, providing mental health care, conducting research, and working on initiatives with the goal of creating social benefits. The focus of a psychologist is to provide mental well-being for children, adolescents, adults and the whole of society.

This occupation has an annual mean wage of $88,400, according to the latest data for 2013 (BLS).

Related Reading

References and Further Reading

  • BLS – Psychology Teachers, Postsecondary (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes251066.htm)
  • BLS – Mental Health Counselors (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211014.htm)
  • BLS – Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211092.htm)
  • BLS – Psychologists, All Other (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes193039.htm)
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