APS College of Health Psychologists

Postgraduate Students and Early Career

For information and resources for students on their journey towards a career in psychology go to Psych Student HQ at http://www.psychology.org.au/studentHQ.

Myth-Busting Health Psychology

Training in health psychology is very restricted

False! Health Psychology training focuses on being able to work with and treat high prevalence psychological disorders such as depression, trauma, and anxiety but also to have knowledge of medical and health issues, and health behaviour change.  So rather than be “very restrictive” it is more in line with what the general population requires (e.g., treating depression and anxiety, weight loss, health management for diabetes etc.). Health Psychologists are suited to treating multimorbid physical and psychological conditions, taking a holistic approach to health and well-being, by incorporating the biopsychosocial model of health.

Health psychology has a lower level of prestige associated with it than clinical psychology

Somewhat. This depends on the context.  In hospitals or teaching in universities, this is not usually an issue.  Unfortunately, this is more of a political issue is some cases.  What is important to note is that your own reputation counts, so focus on this.  Be a great practitioner and educator, and build your reputation.

Health psychologists earn less money than clinical psychologists

False! In hospitals, universities and other NGO settings you are paid award wages taking into account your grade level and years worked, not your endorsed area.  In private practice you can set your own prices, it is the rebate that is different.  The APS recommend the fee for psychological service to be $241 per 50-minute session. Psychologist charge from bulkbilling to $250.  It is your years of experience and reputation that should guide your fees.

There is a limited range of employment and educational opportunities for health psychologists

Somewhat. While there may be some truth in this statement, consider what motivated you to become a health psychologist.  Regardless, there are still a variety of places you can work and many different roles you can fulfil, including government public policy, private practice, working in a hospital (including a variety of work), research and teaching (e.g., lecturing and/or running workshops).

Practicing health psychology would attract fewer clients than practicing clinical psychology due to the lower Medicare rebate

False! Clients come to see you for your expertise and reputation.  This is your selling point. 

Health psychology is very emotional taxing

False! This largely depends on the nature of the work you do and where you work regardless of your endorsement area. Nonetheless, it is vital that you get good supervision and support wherever you work.

Health psychology has a low public profile, and is not well understood

False. Internationally the profile of health psychology is prominent. Unfortunately, Australia is behind, however things are being done.  To paraphrase JFK, ask not what health psychology profile can do for you, but what can you do to help the health psychology profile!  Join the APS College of Health Psychologists, or even better, join the state or national committee.