According to Matarazzo (1982): “Health Psychology is the aggregate of the specific educational, scientific and professional contributions of the discipline of psychology to the promotion and maintenance of health, the prevention and treatment of illness, the identification of etiologic and diagnostic correlates of health, illness, and related dysfunction, and the analysis and improvement of the health care system and health policy formation (p.4).”
The underlying philosophical foundation of health psychology is the Biopsychosocial Model of health and illness. This model regards both health and illness as a combination of three forces-biological, behavioral, and social. As such, any diagnostic and treatment regimen should focus upon these three forces-biological (e.g. genetic predisposition), behavioral (e.g. lifestyle, stress, health beliefs), and social (e.g. cultural influences, job influences, family relationships, social support).
According to Division 38 (Health Psychology Division of The American Psychological Association), Health Psychologists are engaged in the following activities when functioning as Health Psychologists in Clinical Settings:
“Assessment approaches often include cognitive and behavioral assessment, psycho physiological assessment, clinical interviews, demographic surveys, objective and projective personality assessment, and various clinical and research-oriented protocols. Interventions often include stress management, relaxation therapies, biofeedback, psychoeducation about normal and patho-physiological processes, ways to cope with disease, and cognitive-behavioral and other psychotherapeutic interventions. Healthy people are taught preventive health behaviors. Both individual and group interventions are utilized. Frequently, health psychology interventions focus upon buffering the effects of stress on health by promoting enhanced coping or improved social support utilization.”
More information can be obtained about Health Psychology by going to the Health Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association website: http://www.health-psych.org/whatis.html