Becoming a Health Psychologist
Career Plan: a step by step approach…
Clinical health psychologists help people improve their mental well-being and thus their physical well-being as well. If you want to become a part of this evolving profession, you’ll need a doctorate degree in psychology. The following tips and resources can help you get started.
Become a Health Psychologist
- Career Plan: How to Become a Health Psychologist
- Career Plan: General Psychologist (non specific sub-specialty)
- Schools Offering: Psychology Programs
Take college prep and advanced placement classes in high school.
Select an undergraduate program. It may be in psychology or a related field. Look ahead to know if the graduate programs you favor have a preference regarding undergraduate degree.
Seek out undergraduate experiences that will increase your skills and make you more competitive. You can look for research opportunities, either through your department or through a related health department like physical therapy. Join Psi Chi if there’s a chapter at your school. Meanwhile, keep your grades up.
The APA Health Psychology Division recommends taking classes in health policy and epidemiology; you may also consider summer courses offered by the NIH.
Explore doctorate programs. If you want to work with patients, you will need a clinical or counseling psychology degree with an emphasis in health psychology. There are both PhD and PsyD degrees available. PsyD degrees may include a practical project as opposed to a dissertation. (Be aware that some states, like Washington, do specify a dissertation under licensing requirements.) Look up state licensing requirements in advance. The APA Guide to Graduate Study can help you explore more subtle differences between programs.
Complete post-doctoral level training. Training opportunities are available through the NIH, VA, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, among others. You will find a list on the APA Division 38 site. Make sure your fellowship is accredited by the APA or CPA. In some cases, the internship can be combined with post-doctoral training.
Personality Traits: The BLS cites emotional stability, compassion, and perseverance as important qualities for psychologists.