At some point in our lives, many of us have likely felt frustrated, anxious, or down because of an illness or injury. And most of us likely know what it is like to feel “butterflies in our stomach” when feeling nervous or to feel our “blood boil” when angry. So it is not surprising that our physical health can affect our mood and vice versa. Nevertheless, I find that many people still seem surprised when I tell them about Health Psychology and its many benefits in supporting our well-being and health.
Clinical health psychologists help clients increase their awareness of the mind-body connection and use this information to find effective ways to cope with a wide variety of symptoms and diagnoses. As the field of Health Psychology continues to make great gains in helping people cope with health-related concerns, I believe it is important to raise awareness of this specialty and encourage people to explore their options for emotional and psychological support throughout their healthcare journey, as it can be greatly beneficial for patients and their caregivers.
What is Health Psychology?
Health psychology is the study of human thought, feeling, and behavior as it relates to our physical health and well-being. We know that our psychological state can greatly influence our physical health, through many different avenues. For example, prolonged stress and anxiety can trigger sustained physiological changes in our bodies that can lead to chronic health concerns, including, but not limited to high blood pressure, immune compromise, and weight gain or loss. Moreover, the diagnosis and treatment process for many conditions can be a long, scary, and grueling process for people.
Clinical health psychologists are specialized therapists who are trained to provide therapy and support to clients with a wide range of health-related concerns, including those who are chronically or terminally ill, or in need of support in making significant changes in their health-related behaviors (e.g. diet, exercise, stress management, etc.). Health psychologists have a deep understanding of the complex relation between our psychological states and our physical well-being and can use this expertise to help people as they navigate their unique healthcare journeys.
How can it help me?
Many clients are referred to health psychologists by their physicians, to help support patients who are struggling with a wide variety of diagnoses (e.g. hypertension, cardiovascular disease, cancer, autoimmune disease, chronic pain, etc.). Health psychologists can help clients find ways to improve health-related behaviors (e.g. improve diet/exercise, increase adherence to medication guidelines, etc.), manage thoughts and feelings that can worsen physical symptoms (e.g. pain), and help clients integrate their new “patient” status into their overall sense of self.
Health psychologists can also help people cope with health-related anxiety (e.g. stress related to exposure to COVID-19, or other communicable diseases); and caregivers may also benefit from this type of support. Additionally, psychotherapists who are trained in health psychology can help patients and their caregivers better navigate complex health care systems, improve communication with their medical providers, and gain a better understanding of their health condition.
How do I get help?
If you are interested in health psychology, it may be helpful to contact your physician for a recommendation, especially if you are seeking psychotherapy to cope with a specific diagnosis. You can also find health psychologists in your community by searching for therapists who indicate their specific training in their online profiles or informational materials. Watch the video above or contact us directly to learn more about Health Psychology and how we can help.
About Dr. Tanaka & Coronado Psych
Dr. Rika Tanaka (PSY30925) is a licensed psychologist and founder of Coronado Psych. At Coronado Psych, our mission is to offer high-quality, evidence-based psychological services and supportive counseling to our community. We currently have availability for new clients and are offering all sessions online or over-the-phone. We also have reduced fees available for healthcare and essential workers.
If you or someone you love is interested in therapy or supportive counseling, please feel free to contact Coronado Psych at (619) 554-0120 or email@example.com. You can also schedule a complimentary initial consultation at: https://coronado-psych.clientsecure.me.
Learn more by visiting our website (www.coronadopsych.com) or watching this brief video: