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Performance Psychology Rehabilitation Psychology

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Rehabilitation Psychology

By Joyce A. Anthony Anne S. Walters, PhD, ABPP, Consultant


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Introduction: What Is Psychology? .............................. 6 Chapter 1: Becoming a Rehabilitation Psychologist . 10 Chapter 2: History and Development of the Field ...... 26 Chapter 3: Common and Unusual Issues .................. 40 Chapter 4: HowPsychology Helps ............................. 58 Chapter 5: Takeaways for Everyday Life . .................. 74 Series Glossary of Key Terms ...................................... 90 Further Reading & Internet Resources ...................... 93 Index . ............................................................................. 94 Author’s Biography and Credits ................................. 96 KEY I CONS TO LOOK FOR : Words to Understand: These words with their easy-to-understand definitions will increase readers’ understanding of the text while building vocabulary skills. Sidebars: This boxed material within the main text allows readers to build knowledge, gain insights, explore possibilities, and broaden their perspectives by weaving together additional information to provide realistic and holistic perspectives. Educational Videos: Readers can view videos by scanning our QR codes, providing them with additional educational content to supplement the text. Text-Dependent Questions: These questions send the reader back to the text for more careful attention to the evidence presented there. Research Projects: Readers are pointed toward areas of further inquiry connected to each chapter. Suggestions are provided for projects that encourage deeper research and analysis. Series Glossary of Key Terms: This back-of-the-book glossary contains terminology used throughout this series. Words found here increase the reader’s ability to read and comprehend higher-level books and articles in this field.

What Is Psychology? When we look up the meaning of the word psychology , we learn that it comes from two Greek words—“psyche,” which means “mind,” and “logia,” which means “the study of.” Hence, psychology is “the study of the mind.” (Merriam-Webster.com) Essentially, psychology aims to study and better understand emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, with the goal of benefiting society. Those who choose to study psychology generally have a strong urge to help others, though the definition of “others” can vary across concentric circles of influence, from the individual to the family and then on to broader systems such as a school, neighborhood, or society. That urge to help and understand people and their behavior is perhaps the most basic motivator that leads an individual to want to pursue the study of psychology. Some describe psychology as a “hub science” to depict the way that it links to the social sciences, the natural sciences, medicine, and the humanities. In university settings, however, psychology is considered a social science. Social sciences deal with the study of human behavior in its social and cultural aspects. They include fields such as anthropology, sociology, political science, history, education, and economics. These fields are certainly diverse, and yet one can see the commonality: these disciplines all teach us more about how the individual and society interact and influence each other. Another important distinction is the one between psychology and psychiatry. Simply put, psychologists pursue


Rehabilitation Psychology

graduate level degrees (master’s or doctorate) in psychology, whereas psychiatrists complete medical school prior to specializing in psychiatry. After medical school (and receiving an MD degree), there are three years of psychiatry training to become an adult psychiatrist. If they want to specialize further (such as in child and adolescent psychiatry or forensics), there is additional training in this specialty field for several years and then they must take a board examination to become certified in their specialty area. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication, and psychologists cannot (although in some rural or underserved areas this is an option for psychologists). Psychiatrists are also uniquely suited to understand biological or medical contributions to mental illness. On the other hand, some day-to-day practices of psychiatrists do not look that different from those of psychologists. What does studying psychology entail? There are so many options! Within psychology, there are multiple fields of study. Some of them you will learn about in these volumes, but it would take far too many volumes to cover all of them. If you’re interested in exploring more about psychology beyond this series, you might consider developmental psychology, cognitive psychology, and comparative psychology. Developmental psychology is the study of development throughout a person’s life, from infancy through old age. Some of the more famous developmental psychologists have been Jean Piaget, who identified stages for the development of cognition in children, and B. F. Skinner, who studied the process of learning and taught us about the concepts of operant and classical conditioning. Another field, cognitive psychology, studies human thought: one famous psychologist in this field is Noam Chomsky, who studied the development of language. Comparative psychologists study animal behavior, and in this area Konrad



Lorenz studied the process by which baby geese “imprint” on the first object they see after birth. If you Google Professor Lorenz, you may see pictures of goslings following him around the yard. Although there are many ways to cluster the various subfields of psychology, one common distinction is between clinical and nonclinical applications, sometimes also referred to as applied psychology vs. basic research . Clinical or applied psychology focuses on understanding and treating psychiatric disorders that challenge day-to-day functioning. Treatment is derived from an evidence base that assesses outcomes or the ways that a treatment is effective. Establishing an evidence base is an important aspect of the work of a psychologist. Some devote their careers to this work, which can overlap with nonclinical or research applications. Researchers use scientific methods to advance knowledge in the field in a variety of topics. These psychologists work in academic settings as well as industry and organizations. Why would you want to become a psychologist or even to study psychology? The field of psychology has countless applications to everyday life, and as such, it can be a jumping off point for many careers. The reader will learn about different psychology careers in these volumes. What’s more, as a major in college, psychology can be applied to a variety of careers outside of psychology, such as human resources, teaching, criminal justice, and many others. For those who have the option to take an elective psychology course in high school, it can be a wonderful opportunity to get a jump start on the weighty decision of what to major in and to see whether the subject matter interests you. In writing this introduction, I can give you a window into a personal choice. I am a child clinical psychologist and have devoted my career to helping children and their families. I work


Rehabilitation Psychology

in an academic medical center, which means that although I do clinical work, I also teach and supervise psychology students at many phases of their career. In addition, I write for various venues and conduct applied research into the outcomes of the treatment we provide. I am also an administrator, and as such I attend to aspects of psychology as a “business”: hiring and training those who do the work in our setting and tracking our budget, to name a few examples. One of the best things about this career is that every day is different, and yet the common experience is of helping others. In producing this series, we hope that we can provide a window into the varied choices you can make with a degree in psychology. From professor to therapist, working with toddlers or the elderly, teaching business psychology or conducting family therapy, there is likely at least one application of the subject of psychology that will appeal to you. I hope the exploration is rewarding!

Anne S. Walters, PhD, ABPP Clinical Director Children’s Partial Hospital Program Clinical Professor Alpert Medical School of Brown University



Rehabilitation: The act of working through therapy to help a person live as productively as possible after an illness, an accident, or addiction. Dissertation: A written presentation of an original research project required in order to earn a doctorate degree. Empathy: The ability to put yourself in another person’s position so you can see and feel things from their perspective. A rehabilitation psychologist works with individuals who are considered differently abled. WORDS TO UNDERSTAND


A rehabilitation psychologist is a specialized kind of therapist who works with individuals who are considered differently abled. These people may have returned from combat missing a limb, suffered an illness that left them blind or unable to speak, or spent years fighting an addiction. They feel lost and scared. Living a fully functional life as they know it seems impossible. It is the task of the rehabilitation psychologist to meet these people where they are currently and help to them see what they are capable of achieving. Individuals who need the help of a rehabilitation psychologist often face emotional challenges such as accepting their disorder. For example, a former sports star may suddenly feel hopeless if they can no longer participate in the sport because of an injury that leaves them partially paralyzed. The psychologist must first help this individual adjust to this change Becoming a Rehabilitation Psychologist


The rehabilitation psychologist also works with families.

and accept that their life is going to follow a different path. Once that fact is accepted, the rehabilitation psychologist will work to help the individual prepare for that new future. The rehabilitation psychologist also works with the families, because the disability faced by one individual affects the entire family. It is just as important that family members have a support network to help them navigate their new path. The specialist also works with a client’s employer or school to make sure the place is equipped to foster success. Maybe the individual needs a wheelchair-friendly environment or Braille texts. It is the job of the psychologist to work to help get these things in place.


Rehabilitation Psychology

Many people think of a psychologist as someone who sits and listens to a person talk about their problems. Rehabilitation psychologists do much more. They work with individuals in every aspect of their lives to enable them to feel whole again. Each person has a unique set of needs, and it is up to the psychologist to identify those needs. It is also their job to help the individual find the inner strength that will help them get through difficult times. Educational Path to Becoming a Rehabilitation Psychologist To become a rehabilitation psychologist, you will likely need to go to school to earn a doctoral degree. While some entry positions accept those with a master’s degree, you can’t work

What does a rehabilitation psychologist do?

Chapter 1: Becoming a Rehabilitation Psychologist


Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR)

These federal-state–run offices are some of the best-known resources for those who are considered disabled. At those offices, which have locations throughout the country, counselors perform a variety of services to help individuals get into and stay in the workforce. Evaluations are first done to assess a person’s strengths and weaknesses, and then a plan is formulated. The counselors offer job-search skills, education, and life-skill counseling. Clients are assigned counselors who go with them to a place of employment and offer support until they are prepared to handle a job on their own. They work with employers to make sure the employee has what is needed in order to be successful. If a job requires training, OVR will even cover the cost of tuition and living expenses. With the help of OVR, a disabled individual can often find fulfilling employment. with patients without supervision or get a license without a doctorate degree. That means you will most likely be facing between nine and eleven years of formal schooling. You will need to spend four years getting a bachelor’s degree. (It helps if you get it in either psychology or social work.) Next, you will spend two years working on a master’s degree in psychology. At that point, many individuals look for entry-level positions that can help them get practical experience in the psychology field. They must also work toward earning a PhD. That takes anywhere from three to five years and includes writing a dissertation .


Rehabilitation Psychology

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