Education, study and knowledge

What is a General Health Psychologist and how to become one

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Although 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 treats adjustment and mental health problems.

And it is that the field of clinic and health is one of the most desired by a large part of Psychology students. But working in this sector may not be easy, since there is little supply for so much demand. One of the ways that allow working as a psychology professional dedicated to health is obtaining the title of General Health Psychologist or PGS.

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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 it can be accessed the qualification necessary to practice the profession of clinical or health psychologist.

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

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Within this branch we can find a wide variety of actions in which your practice can focus, such as the treatment of adult or children, neuropsychology and neuropsychological rehabilitation, intervention in the family nucleus or psychological treatment or counseling of difficulties arising from the presence of serious diseases such as cancer or cancer, for example HIV

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The two access routes

At the moment, to be a psychologist of the clinical and health branch in Spain there are only two ways: either to train as a Specialist in Clinical Psychology or to become a General Health Psychologist.

The first of the access roads involves passing through the PIR training system (Internal Resident Psychologist), a four-year training period in which the student works in hospitals and rotates through the different psychological care services. This path entails the achievement at the end of the training of the title of Specialist in Clinical Psychology, which allows working in the public network.

The other access route is the completion of the Master's Degree in General Health Psychology, which is carried out in a period of between one and a half and two years and in which knowledge of the different disorders, techniques used and skills that a health psychology professional must have are acquired. In this case the student obtains the degree of General Health Psychologist, which enables him to work in the clinical and health branch, but without having access to the public network but only in the private one. In addition, for a matter of nominalism, although people with this title dedicate themselves to the branch of clinical psychology and of health, cannot legally use the term "clinical psychologist", which is reserved for those who go through the PIR.

Both routes have their advantages and disadvantages and enable psychology professionals to practice as clinicians. In this article we are going to focus on the figure of the General Health Psychologist.

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General Health Psychologist: what is it?

A general health psychologist is understood to be that professional of psychology whose main professional competencies are to carry out research, psychological evaluations and interventions referring to those elements of the behavior, functioning and activity of the people that are related to with the improvement and promotion of your health status.

Thus, the General Health Psychologist has the competence to investigate, diagnose and treat phenomena like psychological disorders.

This can lead us to think about what differences can there be between PIR and PGS: roughly the only perceptible differences with respect to the other degree, that of Specialist in Clinical Psychology, is the scope of action and the name of the category that gives its name to the profession, the PIR being able to access the public network in addition to the private, in addition to using the term "clinical psychologist / a, and the PGS was limited to private (although there may be changes in the future).

How do you get there?

Practice as a General Health Psychologist involves the completion of a series of steps that allow in the first place to obtain the qualification and later to practice as such.

1. Take a university degree with a clinic itinerary

First It is an essential requirement to take the Degree in Psychology, university degree that allows the student to acquire the title of psychologist. This title in itself allows access to different branches and jobs, although it does not directly allow the practice as a clinical psychologist.

It is advisable to try carry out an itinerary focused on the clinical aspect, since many universities require a minimum of credits related to clinical psychology to be able to access certain master's degrees such as the one necessary to qualify as a General Psychologist Sanitary.

2. Take the master's degree

Second, it is necessary to specialize in the branch of Clinical Psychology through the completion of the Master's Degree in General Health Psychology. It is an enabling master Thanks to which to obtain the title of General Health Psychologist, which allows the professional to work in the health sector.

3. To join

Third, although it can be done from the moment of finishing the Degree in Psychology or even a little before, to practice It is mandatory to register with the Official College of Psychologists. Apart from being essential to be able to exercise legally, this registration allows us to access job boards, be registered as professionals. Also from there it is possible to contract civil liability insurance, which is also necessary for professional practice.

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

Bibliographic references:

  • Head of State (2011). Law 33/2011, of October 4, General Public Health. BOE, 240.
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