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What is a General Health Psychologist and how to become one?

What is a General Health Psychologist and how to become one?

January 30, 2023

While there are many other equally interesting and essential areas, the typical image of a psychologist that most people have is that of a professional who deals with problems of adaptation and mental health .

And it is that the scope of the clinic and health is one of the most desired by a large part of the students of Psychology. But working in this sector may not be easy, since there is little supply for so much demand. One of the ways to work as a professional in psychology dedicated to health is to obtain title of General Health Psychologist or PGS .

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A brief preamble: Clinical Psychology

Before delving into what a general health psychologist is, it is necessary as a preamble to refer to what clinical psychology is and how it can be accessed the necessary degree to practice the profession of clinical psychologist or health .


Clinical psychology is the branch of psychology responsible for research, diagnosis, therapeutic approach, treatment and monitoring of mental disorders and other complex maladaptive psychological processes or that suppose psychological distress and an interference in the vital functioning of the subject.

Within this branch we can find a great variety of actions in which your practice can be focused, such as the treatment of adults or children, neuropsychology and neuropsychological rehabilitation, intervention in the family nucleus or psychological treatment or counseling of the difficulties derived from the presence of serious diseases such as, for example, cancer or HIV.


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The two access roads

At present, to be a psychologist of the clinical branch and of health in Spain there are only two ways : or be trained as a Clinical Psychology Specialist or as a General Health Psychologist.

The first of the access roads involves the passage through the PIR training system (Internal Resident Psychologist), a training period of four years in which the student works in hospitals and rotates through the different psychological services. This path leads to the completion of the formation of the title of Specialist in Clinical Psychology, which allows work in the public network.

The other access route is the completion of the Master's Degree in General Health Psychology, which takes place in a period of between one and a half to two years and in which knowledge of the different disorders, techniques used and skills that a person must have is acquired. professional health psychology. In this case the student obtains the degree of General Health Psychologist , which enables him to work in the clinical and health branches, but without having access to the public network but only in the private one. In addition, for a topic of nominalism, although people with this title are dedicated to the branch of clinical psychology and health, legally can not use the term "clinical psychologist", which is reserved for those who go through the PIR .


Both routes have their advantages and disadvantages and enable the professionals of psychology to practice as clinicians. In this article we are going to focus on the figure of the General Health Psychologist.

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General Health Psychologist: what is it?

It is understood as general health psychologist to that professional of psychology whose main professional competences are to carry out investigations, evaluations and psychological interventions referred to those elements of the behavior, functioning and activity of the people that have relation with the improvement and promotion of their health status .

Thus, the General Health Psychologist has competence to investigate, diagnose and treat phenomena such as psychological disorders.

This can lead us to think about what differences there may be between PIR and PGS : broadly speaking, the only perceptible differences with respect to the other degree, that of Specialist in Clinical Psychology, is the scope of action and the name of the category that gives name to the profession, the PIR being able to access the public network in addition to the private, in addition to using the term "clinical psychologist, and the PGS circumscribing the private one (although there may be changes in the future).

How do you get to be it?

Practice as a General Health Psychologist involves the completion of a series of steps that allow in the first place to obtain the qualification and later to exercise as such.

1. Take a university course with a clinical itinerary

First It is an essential requirement to study the Degree in Psychology , university degree that allows the student to acquire the title of psychologist. This title allows access to different branches and jobs, although it does not directly allow the exercise as a clinical psychologist.

It is advisable to try make an itinerary focused on the clinical aspect , since in many universities a minimum of credits linked to clinical psychology is required to be able to access certain master's degrees, such as the one needed to be a General Health Psychologist.

2. Take the master

Second, it is necessary to specialize in the branch of Clinical Psychology through the completion of the Master's Degree in General Health Psychology. It is a master enabler thanks to which obtain the title of General Health Psychologist, which allows the professional to work in the health sector.

3. Become a collegiate

Third, although it can be done from the moment of finishing the Degree in Psychology or even a little earlier, to exercise It is mandatory to register in the Official College of Psychologists . Apart from being essential to be able to exercise legally, this registration allows us to access job boards, to be registered as professionals. Also from there it is possible to hire civil liability insurance, which is also necessary for professional practice.

If we are autonomous and we put our own consultation, we will also need to be registered as such in addition to having sanitary authorization.

Bibliographic references:

  • Head of State (2011). Law 33/2011, of October 4, General of Public Health. BOE, 240

Intro to Psychology - Crash Course Psychology #1 (January 2023).


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