Community and State Hospitals report

The author shares the committee's goal to prepare psychologists to work in more integrated, prevention-focused health care settings

By Jim Regan, PhD

As we begin a new year, I find myself being intrigued by the future role in the public sector for both psychology and psychologists. It seems to me that at this time of year we look ahead, some by reflection others my developing "resolutions". My last few articles have discussed the shifting landscape of integrated care and health homes. What about the individual characteristics and training of new psychologists, what will they have to bring to the table in order to participate and contribute in this new health care system? In the November issue of the Monitor, Cynthia Belar, PhD (APA's Education Directorate executive director) notes, "Health-care reform is based on expanding and strengthening the primary care system...we need to train psychologists for broader roles in health care than just the traditional mental health services." Ok, well what are those roles? Belar indicates that we need to prepare psychologists to work in integrated, prevention-focused health care settings. There's a word I have not heard in awhile, prevention. In the December issue of The American Psychologist, a study by Michalski & Kohout reviewing the 2008 APA survey of Psychology Health Service Providers provides some interesting data. They indicated that among the practice category groups community prevention services accounted for one percent of the total time. It seems clear we are not engaged in prevention services at this time. The same study goes on to point out the impact that the current gender imbalance (women, in the health service provider group constitute 80 percent) may impact certain populations typically served by men (veterans, forensics). Certain "new" developments may help bridge this gap. The December edition of Professional Psychology: Research and Practice is devoted entirely to telehealth and technology innovations in professional psychology. It is conceivable that some of these interventions can be prevention oriented and can be done by either gender-maybe there is a larger opportunity or role here that we realize. Not to be left out (in more ways than one), APA in the more traditional approach has approved the development of treatment guidelines (not practice guidelines) for both depressive disorders and obesity. In this regard, APA will be seeking feedback in 2012 for additional topic areas.

Well, as we have discussed before, the "playing field" is shifting, feel free to contact me anytime to continue the discussion.

This is always an interesting topic to chat about, feel free to contact me and continue our discussion.