What is Behavioral Medicine?
Behavioral medicine is branch of clinical practice in which psychologists emphasize a biopsychosocial approach to medicine. Behavioral medicine may also be referred to as behavioral health, clinical health psychology, medical psychology or psychosomatic medicine.
The biopsychosocial model is an approach to health which considers biological, psychological (thoughts, emotions, and behaviors), and social factors as all playing a significant role in human functioning in the context of disease or illness.
This approach is in contrast to the traditional, reductionist biomedical model of medicine which suggests that every disease process can be explained solely in terms of a deviation from normal function such as a pathogen, genetic or developmental abnormality, or injury.
Behavioral health approaches may explore behavioral components of illness such as drug addiction, smoking, eating disorders, obesity or hypertension by looking at lifestyle factors, stresses and coping mechanisms. With chronic illnesses, emotional and psychological factors often become relevant, even if the illness originated as an entirely physical condition. Focusing on these issues can help improve treatment adherence and compliance, which will lead to better treatment outcomes.
A number of the therapies I utilize in my practice such as biofeedback, guided imagery, meditation and hypnosis are designed to improve both physical and mental well-being. These techniques all enhance immune system functioning and can help a person regain or maintain his or her health.