Introduction to Clinical Health Psychology

Introduction to Clinical Health Psychology

Introduction to Clinical Health Psychology

Introduction to Clinical Health Psychology


• What is the role of psychology and psychological interventions in treating people with physical health problems?

• Which factors contribute to the development of disease and its prevention?

• How do people cope with and manage illness and how may these processes be influenced at both the individual and societal levels?

• How can we highlight the comparative effectiveness of clinical interventions?

This authoritative textbook is designed for use by final year undergraduates, those engaged in training for both clinical and health psychology, and practitioners. It is the first European text to combine elements of both clinical and health psychology in one volume. The book has five key themes: the causes of health and illness; psychological factors influencing the understandings of health, illness and health-related behaviour choice; the theory and application of psychological principles in facilitating individual behavioural and emotional change; the role of psychologists within the wider hospital system; and the role of psychology in population-based health promotion.

Introduction to Clinical Health Psychology integrates psychological theory with the practice of health and clinical psychology in the hospital and in the broader context of health care. It considers both clinical interventions and those of a non-clinical nature that also impact on patients and health-care workers. In doing so, it addresses the developing curriculum for health psychologists' professional training as well as the more established role of clinical psychologists. It will provide essential reading in an increasingly significant and expanding field.


The term 'clinical health psychology' stems from two strands of psychology, each with a different history and focus. Clinical psychology has moved from its historical roots of the 1950s, when practitioners worked almost exclusively in psychiatric settings, to the provision of therapy in a wide variety of settings and with a range of patients, including those who are physically ill. Underlying this move has been a more subtle shift in therapeutic approach. The focus of clinical interventions is no longer solely the remediation of mental health problems. Many clinical psychologists work in settings such as pain clinics or on cardiac rehabilitation programmes, where the majority of patients cannot be considered 'mentally ill'. The rationale for this shift is that the behavioural changes required by participants in such programmes can be facilitated by practitioners with a theoretical understanding of factors that influence behaviour change and the skills to work with individuals or groups to facilitate this process. Clinical psychologists have also moved from an almost exclusively patient focus to one that encompasses a wide variety of roles, including teaching and training, the supervision of others engaged in psychological therapy, and working at an organizational level in a variety of ways.

Those that have made the move to working with physically ill patients have necessarily had to encounter and use a different set of theories and principles from those that guide practice in psychiatry or other specialisms. They have encountered the scientific discipline of health psychology.

Health psychology is an applied discipline. As such, it draws predominantly on theoretical models developed in a wide variety of psychological disciplines, including cognitive psychology, social psychology, and the study of emotions. In the UK, for example, its development began in the mid-1980s, when it was first recognized as an area of academic interest by the British Psychological Society (BPS), which in 1986 established a health psychology section, led by Professor Marie Johnston. Since then, this group has gained divisional status within the BPS. This change in . . .

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