A Closer Look

Col. Larry James, PhD, recalls that, as up-and-coming health psychologists in the 1970s and 80s, he and his colleagues often worked in mental health clinics located "back in some dungy, rundown building behind the hospital."

Times have changed, says James, who is the incoming chief of the department of psychology at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu. Nowadays, an increased recognition of the important link between behavior and health means more psychologists are working side-by-side with physicians--which, says James, "is a big adjustment for many psychologists."

So, to help clinical health psychologists integrate their services into hospitals and primary-care settings--and use new technology to expand their practices into new markets--Div. 38 (Health) is launching a series of daylong annual training workshops: the Clinical Health Psychology Institutes. The first of these, "Integrating psychological services into clinical primary-care clinics," will be held July 27 at Tripler Army Medical Center before APA's 2004 Annual Convention, July 28-Aug. 1, in Honolulu.

"We're training health psychologists for the next frontier--particularly those who want to grow and transition into the primary-care setting and new market areas such as diabetes clinics and hypertension clinics," says James, who hatched the idea for the institute with Cynthia Belar, PhD, executive director of APA's Education Directorate, which is co-sponsoring the workshop series.

The institutes will complement the long tradition of the division as a recognized leader in research on the link between physical health and behavior, says Div. 38 President-elect Tracey Robinson, PhD, who takes the division's reins during convention. There is a need for translational work between research and clinical practice on how behavioral factors affect illness, she adds.

Tripler--the largest Army medical center in the Pacific--is an apt setting for a training institute because it uses some of the country's most state-of-the-art telehealth technology, such as interactive Web pages, CD-ROMs, personal digital assistants and paperless mental health records, to deliver long-distance care, says James. Workshop participants will experience many of those innovations first-hand with the guidance of speaker and Tripler psychologist Ray Folen, PhD.

Other speakers include Susan McDaniel, PhD, of the University of Rochester School of Medicine, who will give a two-hour talk on how psychologists can adjust to work in primary-care settings, what psychologists can offer physicians and what physicians need from psychologists. In addition, Tripler's James will discuss medical disorders psychologists should watch for in their practices.

"Ten to 20 percent of patients who come in to the mental health clinic have some underlying medical disorder, such as anemia, contributing to [their] psychological symptoms," says James.

Participants will also hear from native Hawaiian psychologist John Myhre, PhD, whose practice is located in a local health clinic for indigent patients. Myhre will discuss his consultative role with primary-care physicians and offer guidance on providing services in a primary-care setting.

The Honolulu workshop is administered through APA's Continuing Education in Psychology Office and offers six continuing-education credits. The division expects approximately 80 to 100 psychologists to attend the training, and registration is open until July 26. The cost is $95. Div. 38 and APA's Education Directorate are planning a 2005 institute on women's health to be held in April in Washington, D.C., and co-chaired by McDaniel and psychologist Helen Coons, PhD.

Further Reading

Div. 38 (Health) was formed in 1978 by scientists and practitioners interested in the psychological and behavioral aspects of physical and mental health. The division--which has 2,727 members--has special interest groups on aging, women and minority health issues. Its bimonthly journal, Health Psychology, has the second-highest circulation of all APA journals and its newsletter, The Health Psychologist, is published three times a year. The division also publishes a book series designed to familiarize clinicians with current research in health psychology; topics to date include psychophysiological disorders and management of chronic illness. The division's Web site, www.health-psych.org, lists training programs and internship opportunities in health psychology, information on the division's awards program and other resources. For membership information, contact Div. 38 administrative officer Barbara A. Keeton at (301) 540-3137 or via e-mail.