Health and Psychology

Health and psychology

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What I do.

Posted by Margaret Donohue on April 24, 2014 at 9:10 PM

Most people have never heard of a medical or health psychologist.  Conceptualized back in the 1960's and 1970's, medical psychologists were initially thought to be physician extenders, very similar to Physician Assistants now.  We were taught basic biology and human systems work as well as extensive interviewing skills and history taking.  In the 1970's the field of medical psychology split into health psychology and medical psychology.  Medical psychology dealt with chronic, serious, terminal illness, complications of medical procedures, and compliance or problems with compliance to medical treatment recommendations.  Health psychology focused on wellness, improvement of health, diet and weight loss, sleep hygiene, mindfulness, and stress reduction.

I had grown up working in my adoptive parents' pharmacy so I had a good knowledge of medications coming into the field.  My adoptive father, a pharmacist, specialized in compounding medications and had extensive knowledge of botanical treatment of illness (plants used as medicine).  So I had information on those as well.  I also had the unique experience of having medical conditions that were quite rare and would only be fully diagnosed when I was in my late 40's.  In addition to psychological and medical/health psychology treatment, I did post-doctoral training in neuropsychology and forensic psychology (law and psychology).

I started in the field of psychology at the beginning of the HIV/AIDS crisis.  I had an office within a general practitioner's office.  We shared clients and he billed for my services as adjunctive to his.  I was involved in treating conditions that were not improving after several office visits.  The majority of these were medical conditions that were difficult to diagnose because the patients and physician were not understanding one another and their descriptions of symptoms.  I took vitals such as temperature, pulse, blood pressure, height and weight measurements.  I explained lab reports.  I reviewed x-ray findings.  I treated symptoms of depression and anxiety with psychotherapy.  I provided medical research to the physician in charge, and general information to patients.  

After a couple of years I opened a group practice with some colleagues and focused on treatment of chronic and undiagnosed medical conditions.  That lasted a coiple of years and then I started working as an executive for insurance companies in the new field of managed care.  I reviewed medical records for quality and consistency.  I wrote policy and procedures for evaluating treatment for both psychological and medical conditions.

In 2009, I opened my own corporation to go back into the field of health and medical psychology.  I see people with chronic, serious, terminal and undiagnosed medical conditions.  I perform psychological and neuropsychological assessments and evaluations for a host of conditions.  The office does legal evaluations for people pursuing personal injury litigations following accidents or injuries, social security disability evaluations and disability accommodation evaluations.  We evaluate people looking for evaluations for immigration.  We also provide work evaluations or appeal evaluations for people that have been denied employment based on psychological test results.

I have a psychological assistant that primarily works with Spanish speakers.  I have another psychological assistant that works with issues related to trauma and women's issues.  I have another psychological assistant that works with English or Farsi speaking people doing general psychology.  Unlike medicine or nursing, post-doctoral psychological assistants have completed all of their doctoral level education.  They are completing between 1500 to 3000 hours needed to sit for the licensing examinations.  They work under my supervision.

In addition to my corporation work, I teach graduate school and on occasion undergraduate students in psychology, psychological testing, neuropsychology and neuropsychological testing, ethics, group dynamics, research, statistics, sociology, and psychodiagnostic assessment.  

If you're interested in a consultation by me or any of my staff feel free to contact us.

Categories: Health Psychology, Brain Injury, Diagnosis

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