I am interested in using psychology to understand people’s attitudes, beliefs and awareness around health. This can be by looking at particular behaviours which can be damaging to a person’s health, for example smoking, drug or alcohol use (I say this without passing any judgement!). I then investigate psychological methods which may support behaviours and prevent ill health from developing or progressing. My reasons for training as a health psychologist is so that I can help people self-manage a condition they have such as asthma, diabetes or cancer, or to help them cope with persistent pain perhaps. A role which I do currently is to support people by encouraging exercise and healthy eating which I offer inside my remit as a registered exercise practitioner.
In regards to health I am particularly interested in health consciousness and how it corresponds to a person’s awareness about their own health. This can be a great way to learn whether somebody is able and ready to take part in activities and behaviours that promote their health (which can be easier said than done I know!). The research does suggest that people who are more health conscious will look for information about how they can support their health and will make efforts to do so (Basu & Dutta, 2008). Which begs the question as to what happens to those who aren’t regarded as ‘health conscious’ and how and where they get their health information from (if at all). It has also been suggested that people who are health conscious are more positive about their overall health including their diet, exercise and self-care habits, and as such have greater well-being than people with lesser health consciousness (Chen, 2009). People who are more conscious about their health are more likely to visit health practitioners such as doctors, dentists (Lucas et al., 2017). I am very interested in how we can encourage health consciousness and I use contemplative practices I am qualified to teach such as yoga to help people navigate their awareness of self with loving-kindness.
So all in all, my aim in training as a health psychologist is to study the psychological processes which influence health, illnesses and broadly health care. With this information I aim to apply these findings to support and promote health as well as contributing to the health care system be researching and analysing procedures and policies which can help enrich quality of life for those who are involved in health care, both in the delivery and receipt. I feel very passionate about the collaborative nature of health care and believe in supporting personal agency and taking care of those who also provide care to those who need it.
If you have any questions about my current work or training pathway please do ask! It is great to talk about this topic which impacts of each and every one of us.