Clinical Health Psychology

Clinical health psychology is concerned with the contributions that psychologists can make to understanding health and illness, frequently in collaboration with other health professionals, including physicians, nurses among others. It involves the development of theory, research, and intervention directed toward prevention, treatment, and management of physical disease and disability, as well as the promotion of health.

Major Area of Study in Clinical Health Psychology (CHP)

Because factors at the level of the individual, group, and larger social system influence health, issues pertinent to improving the health care system and health policy are relevant to clinical health psychology. Individuals who specialize in clinical health psychology typically obtain professional positions that involve some combination of conducting research, providing services, serving as administrators, and teaching. Clinical health psychologists work in a variety of settings, including medical schools and centers, universities, hospitals, medical clinics, private or group practice, and government.

The Major Area of Study in Clinical Health Psychology at the University of Kansas is designed to be completed in conjunction with the requirements for the APA-accredited clinical program. A number of faculty members, located within the Department of Psychology and other departments at the Lawrence campus and the University of Kansas Medical Center, provide the teaching, research, and supervisory support for the specialty. A unique facet of the specialty is its practicum in clinical health psychology, conducted during the third program year at the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC) and fourth year at a variety of sites to include primary care clinics, local VA sites, and a children's hospital. Additional coursework is also available through the Department of Preventive Medicine and its Masters program in public health at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Students in the Major Area of Study in Health Psychology (CHP) complete all the requirements of KU's general clinical program. CHP also requires six graduate credit hours over and above those required by the clinical program and six hours of electives that are relevant to the track and also complete clinical program requirements. In addition to these differences, CHP requires four semesters of advanced clinical practicum that occur on health teams via the KU Medical Center. Additionally, students' thesis and dissertation topics should be relevant to the health area, and students' internships should provide training in behavioral medicine or health/rehabilitation psychology.

KU Medical Center Clinical Health Psychology Practicum (3rd Year)

Behavioral Pediatrics Clinic:  Children and adolescents (with or without chronic disease) who present with internalizing disorders (depression, anxiety, anger, etc.), externalizing disorders (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional-defiant disorder, etc.), and chronic disease-related adjustment problems (nonadherence to medical regimens, pain, and coping difficulties) are seen in these clinics. Patients are referred by physicians, other therapists, teachers, or parents refer themselves. See attached schedule for clinic times and location. Intake information is sent to the parents prior to the first appointment and they bring this information with them to the clinic.  Short-term, cognitive-behavioral treatment is offered, with each patient having between 2 and 10 visits in the clinic. Contact:  Mike Rapoff, Ph.D. or Martye Barnard, Ph.D.

Inpatient Pediatric Consultation Service:  Consults can be called in at any time from the general pediatric or subspecialty inpatient services. The pediatric inpatient units are on the 4th floor of Bell Memorial. The Pediatric Intensive Care Unit is on the 4th floor of Bell Memorial. Occasionally we are also consulted by the Burn Unit, which is on the 5th floor of Bell Memorial. We may be asked to assess and provide recommendations for children and adolescents who are having behavioral or adjustment problems or to provide support for parents and children. We may also be involved in providing advice and support to the nursing or medical staff. Inpatient consultations are directly multidisciplinary in that we are part of the medical and nursing team that is treating the child and we have frequent interactions with the staff. In addition, we are involved in adult palliative care services for the purpose of providing family counseling. Contact: Stephen Lassen, Ph.D.

Telemedicine Outreach Clinic: The telemedicine clinic uses televideo technology to deliver the same behavioral pediatrics evaluation and treatment services described above to families across Kansas. Children present with internalizing and externalizing concerns as well as parents seeking child management strategies and assistance with coping with loss. In addition to working with the child and parent/guardian, therapists work closely with school faculty and other community resources to implement recommendations.. Contact: Eve Lynn Nelson, Ph.D.

Multidisciplinary Elimination or Endocrinology Clinic: Children who have encopresis (soiling in clothing) with or without constipation are seen in the Elimination Clinic. Children and adolescents who present with an endocrinology-related disorder (.e.g., diabetes, idiopathic short stature, Turner’s syndrome) are seen in the Endocrine Clinic. We are asked to work with the child or adolescent to treat an internalizing disorder (e.g., adjustment disorder, depression, anxiety, etc), externalizing disorder (e.g., attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), and chronic illness-related adjustment problems (e.g., coping difficulties, adherence problems).  Patients are typically referred by the respective clinic teams or parents refer their child. In many cases, our work with patients is directly multidisciplinary in that we are part of the elimination and endocrinology team that is treating the child and we consult with our colleagues during the clinic as time permits.  This clinic is located in Medical Office Building, Pediatrics, 3rd Floor. Contact: Susan Patton, Ph.D.

NeuroRehabilitation Psychology Inpatient Consult Service:  The neurorehabilitation psychologist and postdoctoral fellow provide services (assessment of cognition, mood, and pain management, individual psychotherapy) to adults with diverse diagnoses, including traumatic and non-traumatic brain and spinal cord injury, stroke, brain tumor and other cancer diagnoses, organ transplant, burn, amputation, and other medical conditions requiring rehabilitation services.  The inpatient rehabilitation unit is a 29 bed acute and short-term rehabilitation unit for people with physical and cognitive difficulties resulting from trauma and/or disease.  The unit is staffed by a multidisciplinary team including rehabilitation medicine physicians (physiatrists), rehabilitation nurses, occupational and physical therapists, speech language pathologists, a social worker, a nutrition specialist/dietician, a recreational therapist, and the neurorehabilitation psychologist.  The team meets twice weekly on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10 am to discuss patients currently on the unit and determine treatment goals, plan of care, and discharge.  The neurorehabilitation psychology service also provides consultation to burn, trauma, surgery, and medicine services within the medical center.  The neurorehabilitation psychologist and postdoctoral fellow also participate in weekly multidisciplinary burn unit staff meetings on Wednesdays at 2 pm.  As a member of the teams, the neurorehabilitation psychologist and postdoctoral fellow evaluate and monitor mood, cognition, and pain/pain management, administers cognitive screens, gives feedback and education to patients, families and staff, and provides brief focused psychological interventions (e.g., CBT, relaxation training, supportive counseling).  The neurorehabilitation psychology service is called to other units in the hospital for similar consultative services. Contact: Monica Kurylo, Ph.D., ABPP

NeuroRehabilitation Psychology Outpatient Clinic (Optional and by discretion of Dr Kurylo): On Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning at 8:15 am, neuropsychological evaluations of adults and children with physical and cognitive disabilities (e.g., stroke, brain injury, other neurological diagnoses, and/or psychiatric diagnoses) are performed.  The clinical interview (starts at 8:30 am) is led by the neuropsychologist with the extern or intern and the psychometrist also present.  The interview is followed by the testing which is typically administered by the psychometrist.  Feedback sessions on this testing are performed on Monday and Thursday afternoons at 1 and 2 pm. Contact:   Monica Kurylo, Ph.D., ABPP

Psychologists on this service can be called for a consult at any time from one of the subspecialty oncology outpatient clinics. The outpatient clinics are located at the Westwood campus, 2330 Shawnee Mission Parkway.  There is also a radiation oncology outpatient clinic at the main hospital, and inpatient oncology floors within the hospital. We may be asked to assess and provide recommendations for primarily adults, but also some children and adolescents who are having behavioral or adjustment problems in reaction to their cancer diagnosis or treatment; or to provide support for caregivers of those with cancer. We may also be involved in providing advice and support to the nursing or medical staff.  Consultations are multidisciplinary in that we are part of the medical and nursing team that is treating the patient. Each oncology disease site team meets once weekly to discuss patients who are pending treatment to determine plans of care. As a member of the team, the psychologist evaluates, monitors, and treats mood, anxiety, adjustment concerns, and cognition, administers cognitive screens, and provides psychological treatment (e.g., CBT, solution-focused therapy, relaxation training, and supportive counseling), gives feedback and education to patients, families and staff, and provides psychological treatment. Group supervision is from 12:00 to 1:30pm and clinic times are 9am to noon and then from 1:30pm to 4 or 5 pm on Thursdays. Supervisors:  Meagan Dwyer, Ph.D.Jessica Hamilton, Ph.D. and Marcus Alt, Ph.D

Program Contacts