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Week 1
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PSYC 8745: Health Psychology
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Week 1: Introduction to Health Psychology—The Basics
In the mid-1600s, Descartes made a deal with the church: He would focus on the body, and leave the soul (mind) to the church, lest he be punished like Galileo. His subsequent writings on physiology focused on “the neck down” and were influential in the medical knowledge of the time. That is how Cartesian mind-body dualism began, and led to the biomedical model of health care. In reality, it might have been a good model given the types of diseases that were the number one killers of humans at that time, and given the limited understanding of the human body.
Now, however, science has conquered many infectious diseases and mapped the human body to the cellular level. Our number one killers (heart disease, stroke, and cancer) can be prevented through behavioral methods but other factors, such as stress, are on the rise. In addition, beginning in the 1970s with advances in technology, researchers were able to find tangible connections between mental states and physical symptoms. All this led to the development and growing appreciation of the biopsychosocial model—a more comprehensive, holistic approach to understanding and treating human health than the biomedical model. This model, in turn, was influential in the development of health psychology.
Health psychology is a theory-driven field, much more than many other subfields of psychology. You will learn about many theories in this and other specialization courses. The most basic one is the biopsychosocial model, which is the focus of this first week. Enjoy learning about this foundational model and learning more about the history that has led to this fascinating subfield of psychology, along with more details about its history and current status.
Learning Objectives
Students will:
Explain how the biopsychosocial model of illness relates to professional interests
Compare the roles of health psychologists and clinical health psychologists as change agents
Learning Resources
Required Readings
Lubek, I., Ghabrial, M., Ennis, N., Crann, S., Jenkins, A., Green, M., … Barata, P. (2018). Notes on the development of health psychology and behavioral medicine in the United States. Journal of Health Psychology, 23(3), 492–505. doi:10.1177/1359105318755156
Mehta N. (2011). Mind-body dualism: A critique from a health perspective. Mens Sana Monographs, 9(1), 202–209. doi:10.4103/0973-1229.77436
Taylor, S. E. (1990). Health psychology: The science and the field. American Psychologist, 45(1), 40–50. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.45.1.40
Wade, D. T., & Halligan, P. W. (2017). The biopsychosocial model of illness: A model whose time has come. Clinical Rehabilitation, 31(8), 995–1004. doi:10.1177/0269215517709890
Society for Health Psychology. (2019). Retrieved from https://societyforhealthpsychology.org/
Document: Clinical vs. Non-Clinical Health Psychologists (Word document)
Below are readings and resources to brush up on the academic skills needed to succeed in this course.
Walden University Library. (2019). Library Webinar Archive: Webinars on library skills. Retrieved from https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/library/webinararchives/libraryskillswebinars
Walden University Writing Center. (2019a). Building and organizing academic arguments. Retrieved from https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/webinars/scholarlywriting#s-lg-box-2773857
Discussion: Health Psychology and You
This week’s readings orient you to the history of health psychology and one of the most important models used within the field—the biopsychosocial model. They also present information about the many roles that health psychology professionals play across various settings. Keeping this foundational knowledge in mind, in this Discussion, you will share your professional interests in the health psychology field. If you are not in the health psychology specialization, and are taking this course as an elective, discuss how health psychology can be integrated with your field of expertise and why you are taking the course. No matter your specialization and future career, reflecting on the relevance of the course content to your professional identity will be an important first step in planning your individual goals for what you hope to gain from the course.
To prepare:
Complete the assigned readings. (Note: There’s no need to go beyond the assigned readings this week. But, if reading about the history tempts you, go ahead and search for more.)
Visit the Society for Health Psychology website, and navigate the various sections. Bookmark this page to visit it as you progress through your doctoral program.
Consider all the employment options that are noted in the Learning Resources.
Think about the field of health psychology—and your interests specifically—as leading to social change.
By Day 3
Describe your interest in the field of health psychology. Make sure you answer the following questions in this order, identifying your answers with the corresponding numbers below:
Which topics, applications, or careers in the field most interest to you?
How does the biopsychosocial model fit with your interest in health psychology?
How do you see yourself as a social change agent upon graduation and when you are employed in the field? In your answer, include whether or not you have a clinical background and how that informs your role as a change agent.
Read a selection of your classmates’ postings.
Required Readings
Lubek, I., Ghabrial, M., Ennis, N., Crann, S., Jenkins, A., Green, M., … Barata, P. (2018). Notes on the development of health psychology and behavioral medicine in the United States. Journal of Health Psychology, 23(3), 492–505. doi:10.1177/1359105318755156
Mehta N. (2011). Mind-body dualism: A critique from a health perspective. Mens Sana Monographs, 9(1), 202–209. doi:10.4103/0973-1229.77436
Taylor, S. E. (1990). Health psychology: The science and the field. American Psychologist, 45(1), 40–50. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.45.1.40
Wade, D. T., & Halligan, P. W. (2017). The biopsychosocial model of illness: A model whose time has come. Clinical Rehabilitation, 31(8), 995–1004. doi:10.1177/0269215517709890
Society for Health Psychology. (2019). Retrieved from https://societyforhealthpsychology.org/
Document: Clinical vs. Non-Clinical Health Psychologists (Word document)
Below are readings and resources to brush up on the academic skills needed to succeed in this course.
Walden University Library. (2019). Library Webinar Archive: Webinars on library skills. Retrieved from https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/library/webinararchives/libraryskillswebinars
Walden University Writing Center. (2019a). Building and organizing academic arguments. Retrieved from https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/webinars/scholarlywriting#s-lg-box-2773857

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