Health routes with its own training demands and

Health
psychology has been officially recognized as a discipline of the field of
psychology since 1978, when the American Psychological Association (APA)
established a Division of Health Psychology (Division 38). Josep Matarazzo, the
first President of the Division, was very precise about its objectives: ‘We
must aggressively investigate and deal effectively with the role of the
individual’s behaviour and lifestyle in health and dysfunction’ (Matarazzo,
1982). Nevertheless, psychology’s interests in general health and illness is
evident from the very beginning of the discipline itself.

As
the discipline of psychology developed its professional and scientific
character, psychology’s role in health was essentially focused on “mental
health” (Schofield, 1969; Reisman, 1991). In a period that was characterized
for the advances in medicine, the development and success of vaccines and
antibiotics led to a stronger disconnection between the mental and the physical
domain; during this period, the role of clinical psychologists was set in the
diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders (Reisman, 1991).

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In
the twentieth century, the Second World War had a tremendous social and
psychological impact. This did allow a chance for psychoanalysis to become the
most organized approach to understand and enhance mental health; it was
considered the main approach to the psychological study of illness for around
50 years (Murray, 2014). After almost half a century, clinical psychology
became the dominant approach to the study of illness when it formed the ideas
of behaviour analysis, cognitive psychology and psychometrics and some aspects
from biological psychology (Reisman, 1991). Psychology expanded into the
general hospitals and, in order to broaden psychologists’ interests into
physical health problems, community put together clinical psychologists and
general medical practitioners (Murray, 2012; 2014). Furthermore, government
reports of society’s unhealthy behaviours encouraged social psychologists to
apply their theories and interventions to health issues (Ogden, 2012).

In
the United Kingdom, in 1986, the British Psychological Society established a
Health Psychology division whose purposes were similar to those in the APA.
Members in this section were mostly clinical psychologists; this division had a
specific focus on individual behaviour change and on psychological support for
people with physical health problems (Murray, 2017). The clinical heritage
within health psychology advocated the idea of distinct professional training
routes with its own training demands and official titles. This belief led to
the growing professionalization of health psychology. From this point, several
MSc programs were set, starting in London, and arrived to many other regions in
the UK. The Health Psychology section turned into a Special Group in Health
Psychology (SGHP) and the posterior Division of Health Psychology (DHP) in
1997.()

With
the professionalization of health psychology in the United Kingdom, the more
analytical health psychologists went originally for the study of language.  Importantly, they also took into account the
wider social and political processes (Murray, 2012; Murray, 2017). In the UK,
clinical health psychology has come out as a separate discipline within the
field of clinical psychology, leading into a potential conflict with those
health psychologists who don’t have clinical training (Murray, 2017). It is not
clear how the practice of health psychology will evolve in the forthcoming
years. In 2015, Bennet suggested an option that would allocate clinical health
psychologists in primary and secondary healthcare and health psychologists in
illness prevention and public health. However it is still not clear how the
future of health psychology will develop.

The
development of health psychology can vary depending on the country.Paxton, 2007
Currently in the UK, being a member of the BPS DHP is a prerequisite for
qualifying as a health psychologist. Furthermore, the professional activities
of the health psychologists are regulated by the BPS (Michie, Abraham &
Johnston, 2007).

Health
psychology has grown rapidly with an increase in the evidence that shows the
relationship between behaviour, illness, and the awareness of the psychosocial
aspects of health and illness (Marks et al, 2015). These days in the UK, patients
usually access health services through the general medical

practitioner
(GP) in their area, who if needed, refers them to other health professional for
treatment. Recent research has shown how health psychology indeed contributes
to health promotion in primary care settings (Thielke,Thompson & Stuart,
2011), however there is still work to do for demonstrating its
cost-effectiveness across other systems of care.

Philosophies and theories underpinning the field

In
the field of health psychology, many theories and frameworks have contributed
to the actual development of the discipline. In 1946 the World Health
Organization (WHO) defined health as: ‘the state of complete physical, social
and spiritual well-being, not simply the absence of illness.’ This definition
encompasses social and biological aspects but it also leaves out some important
issues that can have an impact on health such as: psychology, culture and
economics. For this reason, Marks et al.
(2015) gave a new definition of health that describes it as: ‘a state of
well-being with satisfaction of physical, cultural, psychosocial, economic and
spiritual needs, not simply the absence of illness (p.5).’

Philosophers,
doctors, psychologists and many others have had much to say about what makes
someone healthy. One of the most known theories about human’s wellbeing is Maslow’s
Hierarchy of Needs. In Maslow’s (1943) hierarchy of needs, he states that
people are motivated towards achieving some form of needs. These needs are
organized within hierarchical levels forming a pyramid. Starting at the bottom
of the pyramid, a person will progress to the next level of needs once they
have met the previous level of needs. Maslow’s model is divided into basic
needs – such as physiological, security, social acceptance and self-esteem. It
then progresses to growth needs or the need for self-actualization, which can
be found at the top of the pyramid (McLeod, 2007).