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Health Psychology and the Buzz of Integrated Care by Melissa Winters, Ph.D.

If you live in Delaware or see a doctor in Delaware, you’ve probably heard the term “integrated care” floating around. Overall, integrated care refers to the idea that your healthcare providers will actively collaborate with one another with increased communication about all aspects of your care.

Integrated care in the field of mental health refers to significant efforts to recognize and address the role of a person’s mental health and ways of coping as part of the medical team’s understanding and plan of care. Sometimes this means that a therapist actually works in the doctor’s office and sees you there (usually short-term). Sometimes your doctor may refer you to a therapist in your community to help with concerns like depression, anxiety, or stress. If you have a chronic health problem, such as diabetes, obesity, or pain, your doctor may suggest that you talk with a therapist about ways to cope.

Integrated care is one area where a health psychologist comes into play. Health psychology is part of the field of behavioral medicine that focuses on the overlap between the physical/medical and the psychological/emotional. It’s no surprise that physical conditions affect psychological and mental states, as well as the reverse. A health psychologist is a clinician with specialized training in:

  • Helping people with physical conditions to achieve a higher quality of life;
  • Supporting people in making important health-related behavior changes;
  • Assisting in the prevention of disease, whenever possible.

Treatment is generally short-term and focused on finding and trying potential solutions. A health psychologist will collaborate with your doctor and any specialists that you see.

There are several potential goals that can be achieved through health psychology treatment, including:

  • Feeling more confident in managing your illness or condition;
  • Coping with depression, anxiety, and stress that are “side effects” of the medical condition and/or its treatment;
  • Managing the stress overlap in symptoms;
  • Finding a place of acceptance, peace, and co-existence with a chronic condition;
  • Improving quality of life for you and your loved ones;
  • Supporting caregivers in their integral role.

The focus on integrated care has increased physician awareness of the role of a health psychologist and the importance of encouraging mental health treatment in general. Adults, adolescents, children, families, and couples may potentially benefit from this mode of treatment. For a list of conditions that a health psychologist can help with, see the end of this article. This is not an exhaustive list – so be sure to call the office if you are wondering if we can help you!

Autoimmune conditions

Caregiver burnout

Chronic pain




Health anxiety

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Lyme Disease

Multiple Sclerosis

Neurological disorders


Post stroke/TBI/MI (heart attack)

Smoking Cessation

Sleep Disorders


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