The specialty of health psychology focuses on the psychological and behavioral factors associated with health and illness. Professionals in this field want to better understand the link between health and behavior so they can reduce the risk of disease, prevent and treat illness, and influence people of all ages to make healthy lifestyle choices.
Much like the human development field, health psychology also uses a biopsychosocial approach to understand health and disease. This model suggests that biological processes are just one of several factors that can be used to explain illness and recovery; psychological wellbeing and social factors should be considered as well. Students will become familiar with this holistic approach as they study spirituality and health, organic chemistry, social psychology, anatomy and physiology, human sexuality, and other biopsychology courses.
After completing an undergraduate health psychology degree, graduates should possess a strong understanding of psychology applications, values, and research methods. Their broad knowledge and higher-order thinking skills makes them excellent candidates for positions in social work, community health education, and research. Another common path for bachelor’s degree holders is to pursue a graduate education in health psychology, counseling, nutrition and clinical health psychology, and other health care fields, such as occupational therapy, physician assistant studies, and physical therapy.