Medical psychology  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Medical Psychology refers to a growing specialty area of clinical psychological practice in which clinical psychologists, who have undergone specialized education and training at the post-doctoral level, integrate somatic and / or psychotherapeutic modalities into the management of mental illness. Medical Psychology is a specialty trained at the post doctoral level and designed to deliver advanced diagnostic and clinical interventions in Medical and Healthcare Facilities utilizing the knowledge and skills of clinical psychology, health psychology, behavioral medicine, psychopharmacology and basic medical science. In the United States, two states (Louisiana and New Mexico) and within the Department of Defense, medical psychology also includes the prescription of medications in the care and management of patients. In the United States, New Mexico and Louisiana, and all branches of the U.S. uniformed services currently authorize medical psychologists to prescribe medications. In Louisiana, the term of medical psychologist refers, in statute, specifically to those psychologists licensed by the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners and who are authorized and licensed to prescribe medications. The term mirrors precisely the terminology of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). It is important to note that the Division 38 of the American Psychological Association and The Academy of Medical Psychology does not agree or recognize that the term medical psychologist has, as a prerequisite, the ability, certification, or licensure to prescribe medications in the care and management of patients nor should the term be equated with having prescriptive authority.

Behavioral Medicine (related to Behavioral Health, Clinical Health Psychology and Psychosomatic Medicine) is a related branch of clinical practice in which psychologists emphasize the biopsychosocial approach to medicine, a model which recognizes the importance of addressing the interaction between physical, psychological and social factors in both the prevention and management of disease. Practitioners of behavioral medicine differ from medical psychologists in that they focus on the scientific application of behavioral interventions to a wide variety of medical conditions (e.g., asthma, gastrointestinal illnesses, cardiac conditions, spinal cord and brain injuries, chronic pain, headaches, and addictive illness).


In 2006, the American Psychological Association (APA) recommended that the education and training of medical psychologists, who are specifically pursuing one of several prerequisites for prescribing medication, integrate instruction in the biological sciences, clinical medicine and pharmacology into a formalized program of postdoctoral education.

The following Clinical Competencies are identified as essential in the education and training of medical psychologists:

I. Basic Science: anatomy, & physiology, biochemistry;

II. Neurosciences: neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, neurochemistry;

III. Physical Assessment and Laboratory Exams: physical assessment, laboratory and radiological assessment, medical terminology;

IV. Clinical Medicine and Pathophysiology: pathophysiology with emphasis on the principal physiological systems, clinical medicine, differential diagnosis, clinical correlation and case studies, chemical dependency, chronic pain management;

V. Clinical and Research Pharmacology and Psychopharmacology: pharmacology, clinical pharmacology, pharmacogenetics, psychopharmacology, developmental psychopharmacology;

VI. Clinical Pharmacotherapeutics: professional, ethical and legal issues, combined therapies and their interactions, computer-based aids to practice, pharmacoepidemiology;

VII. Research: methodology and design of psychopharmacology research, interpretation and evaluation, FDA drug development and other regulatory processes.

The 2006 APA recommendations also include supervised clinical experience intended to integrate the above seven knowledge domains and assess competencies in skills and applied knowledge.

The above prerequisites are not required or specifically recommended by APA for the training and education of medical psychologists not pursuing prerequisites for prescribing medication.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Medical psychology" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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