FAQ

Common Health Psychology Questions

WHAT IS HEALTH PSYCHOLOGY, EXACTLY?

Health Psychology, in general, is a branch of psychology that focuses on the overlap between physical health (things that you would go see a traditional doctor for) and mental/emotional health. Illness—whether life-threatening, slow-burning, or just a miserable cold—can wreak havoc on our mood, habits, and psychological wellbeing. Sometimes, it can feel like our health is ruling our lives instead of the other way around. It is the goal of Health Psychology to help people regain their sense of control and contentment using therapy, advocacy, and education. In my practice specifically, I also help people adopt lifestyle changes that, according to science, can reduce effects of the illness while improving psychological functioning.

DO YOU WORK WITH ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION TOO?

Absolutely. Addressing anxiety, depression, or trauma related to your health is a central part of my work. It’s a rare to find someone whose health condition hasn’t caused some feelings of anxiety or depression somewhere along the way. In addition to the physical symptoms of your illness, feelings of anxiety and depression are one more sign that your body is out of balance and in need some support to re-regulate. I help my clients understand the connection between “biological” and “psychological” then work with them to improve both at the same time.

WHAT TYPES OF CASES WOULD BE RIGHT FOR A HEALTH PSYCHOLOGIST?

Health psychologists work in many different settings with a variety of conditions, including: hormonal imbalances, GI irregularities, cancer, dementia/Alzheimer’s, smoking, eating issues and weight loss, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, chronic pain, perinatal issues, seizure disorders, physical trauma (e.g., concussions), cardiac and stroke events, end of life issues, and much more.

 

Health psychologists also work with patients’ parents, family members, and caregivers who they feel the need to improve the way they are dealing with or providing care for their loved one’s illness.   

WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF PEOPLE THAT WOULD BE A GOOD FIT?

  • A mother in remission from breast cancer, who is having difficulty readjusting back to life because she is scared of getting sick again and leaving her family behind

  • A middle-aged man who has been diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes, and erectile dysfunction and is having difficulty exercising and taking his medication

  • A trans person who has a medical condition and has had traumatic experiences surrounding medical care

  • Adult siblings whose elderly father is having increased difficulty remembering basic things, is getting lost often, and seems to be getting more moody as time goes on. They disagree about how to treat their father and want help understanding about what is going on and how to advocate on his behalf

  • A hard-working woman who travels frequently and is experiencing sleep issues, heightened stress, mood swings, and weight changes

  • Parents who are discouraged and upset about their young child’s recent diagnosis and would like guidance about how to provide the best parenting

  • A young man who has developed chronic pain after a sports injury and is depressed

  • A family who is facing some difficult medical decisions and feels completely overwhelmed by all of the information, opinions, and implications of their treatment options

  • A middle-aged woman who would like to stop smoking but can’t seem to quit on her own

  • A father who cannot work because of his chronic illness and feels depressed. He believes he is not good enough as a man since he cannot provide for his family.

  • A couple with one partner who just experienced a major stroke or heart attack. They want to learn how the incident will impact the partner’s (and couple’s) functioning and what lifestyle changes they can make to reduce the chances of another one

  • A driven man who is generally in good health but wants to learn about and improve his sleep cycles, nutrition habits, and exercise routine so that he can get ahead at work and in life. He also wants to learn about meditation.

  • A young woman who has been depressed and/or anxious for some time, and feels that being overweight is contributing to her mood issues because of her poor self-esteem and social life. She has tried many times to lose weight but can’t figure out why it’s not working

 

Essentially, anyone who feels like life is being dictated by their health or body rather than the other way around.

DO YOU TAKE INSURANCE?

Currently, I do not take insurance but I am happy to provide you with a “superbill” (a statement listing all of the charges) that you can submit to your insurance provider. Some insurance providers will reimburse you a portion of the bill, while others won’t. If being reimbursed is very important to you, make sure you call your insurance company to find out whether or not they will cover any portion of my services. If you have any questions or concerns, I am happy to help you.

WILL YOU WORK WITH MY DOCTOR?

Absolutely! I wouldn't consider myself a helpful advocate otherwise and I routinely collaborate with my clients' health providers. I believe that we get the most out of our healthcare when all of our "team members" are on the same page. Of course, I would only work with your health professional(s) if that is what you prefer.

YOU SAY "ADVOCACY" IS A SERVICE YOU PROVIDE. WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?

Many times, people with either acute or chronic health concerns find themselves overwhelmed with all of the doctors, appointments, medications, treatment options, and (sometimes the worst thing!) differing opinions between providers. When we find ourselves in these situations, sometimes the most helpful thing is to have someone whose only priority is YOU. When I work with clients who feel overwhelmed by their healthcare, I act as an advocate for them by:

  • guiding them through a neutral decision-making process that translates medical jargon into understandable concepts and identifies how their treatment options may affect their mental health and lifestyle

  • discussing relevant points with their medical team to make sure their mental health is being prioritized

  • providing resources that can help make decisions, transitions (and life!) easier

  • helping them prepare for important meetings with their provider by clarifying their health goals, life values, and which questions they should be asking

  • reviewing their medical records, lifestyle, and health factors to make sure their treatment matches their values

  • clarifying which steps to take to successfully navigate the complex and confusing healthcare system