What is a general health psychologist and how do you become one?

While there are many other equally interesting and essential areas, the typical image of a psychologist that most people have is that of a professional who deals with adjustment and mental health issues.

And it is that the field of clinic and health is one of the most sought after by a large part of psychology students. But working in this industry may not be easy, as there is little supply for so much demand. One of the ways to work as a dedicated health psychology professional is to obtain the General Health Psychologist or PGS designation.

    A Brief Preamble: Clinical Psychology

    Before delving into what a general health psychologist is, it is necessary, as a preamble, to refer to what clinical psychology is and how to access it. the qualification required to practice the profession of clinical or health psychologist.

    Clinical psychology is the branch of psychology responsible for the research, diagnosis, therapeutic approach, treatment and monitoring of mental disorders and other complex psychological processes that are maladaptive or involve psychological distress and interference with the vital functioning of the subject.

    Within this branch we can find a wide variety of actions in which you can focus your practice, such as the treatment of adults or children, neuropsychology and neuropsychological rehabilitation, intervention in the family or the psychological treatment or advice on the difficulties arising from the presence. serious illnesses such as cancer or HIV.

      The two access routes

      currently be a psychologist in the clinical and health branch in Spain there are only two ways: Either undergo training as a specialist in clinical psychology or obtain a diploma as a general health psychologist.

      The first of the access roads involves going through the PIR training system (Resident internal psychologist), four-year training period during which the student works in hospitals and rotates in the various psychological care services. This route implies obtaining at the end of the training the title of Specialist in Clinical Psychology, which allows you to work in the public network.

      The other means of access is the completion of the Master in General Health Psychology, which takes place over a period of between one and a half and two years and in which the knowledge of the different disorders, techniques used and skills that a professional health psychology must have. In that case the student obtains the diploma of general health psychologist, This allows him to work in the clinical and health branch, but without having access to the public network but only in the private sector. In addition, for the sake of nominalism, although people with this degree are engaged in the branch of clinical and health psychology, they cannot legally use the term “clinical psychologist”, which is reserved for those who pass. by the PIR.

      Both pathways have their advantages and disadvantages and allow professionals in psychology to practice as clinicians. In this article we will focus on the figure of the general health psychologist.

        General health psychologist: what is it?

        A general health psychologist is understood to mean that professional psychologist whose main professional skills consist in carrying out research, evaluations and psychological interventions related to the elements of behavior, functioning and activity of people related to improving and promoting their health.

        Thus, the general health psychologist has the competence to investigate, diagnose and treat phenomena such as psychological disorders.

        It can make us think what differences there can be between PIR and PGS: In general, the only perceptible differences compared to the other diploma, that of Specialist in Clinical Psychology, is the field of action and the name of the category which gives its name to the profession, and the PIR can access the public network in addition to the private, in addition to using the term “clinical psychologist”, and the SGP being limited to the private (although changes may exist in the future).

        How is it possible?

        Practice as a general health psychologist involves performing a series of steps which allow you first to obtain the diploma and then to practice as such.

        1. To pursue a university degree with a clinical route

        First it is an essential requirement to study the degree in psychology, University diploma which allows the student to acquire the diploma of psychologist. This diploma allows access to different branches and jobs in itself, although it does not directly allow practice as a clinical psychologist.

        It is advisable to try carry out an itinerary centered on the clinical aspectAs many universities require a minimum of credits related to clinical psychology in order to gain access to certain master’s degrees necessary to qualify as a general health psychologist.

        2. Pass the master’s degree

        Secondly, it is necessary to specialize in the branch of clinical psychology by completing the Master in General Health Psychology. This is an enabling mastery thanks to which to obtain the title of general health psychologist, which allows the professional to work in the health sector.

        3. Collegiate

        Thirdly, although it can be done as soon as the psychology degree is finished or even a little earlier, to exercise it is compulsory to register with the Official Order of Psychologists. In addition to being essential to be able to work legally, this registration allows us to access job offers, to be registered as professionals. From here it is also possible to take out liability insurance, which is also necessary for professional practice.

        If we are independent and put our own consultation, we will also have to be registered as such in addition to having a health authorization.

        Bibliographical references:

        • State Seat (2011). Law 33/2011, of October 4, general public health. BOE, 240.

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