Health Psychology started in Brazil at the 1970’s and has grown up constantly. Brazilian health professionals use to differenciate the Health Psychology field from the Clinical Psychology field. The former represents the study and assitance to patients with physical or medical problems associated with psychological problems. Psychological problems and characteristics may be determinants or consequents from these medical condictions. On the other hand, Clinical Psychology is older than Health Psychology and represents the study and assitance to patients with behaviour and emotional problems. Health Psychology in Brazil is viewed as a multidisciplinary field conected with other professions, such as medicine, nursing, nutrition, etc., in such a way that health psychologists need to know a wide range of variables related to health problems in a holistic perspective. While clinical psychologists work with his/her patients in a singular relationship, health psychologists in Brazil work with other health professionals within the entire biopsychosocial context that may affect the patients’ health.
Since the first Brazilian health psychologists started to work in hospitals, it is commom in Brazil to use the term “Hospital Psychology” instead the term “Health Psychology”, although academic texts very often dwell on this misconception. Currently, Brazilian health psychologists work in hospitals, and by this fact the Health Psychology field in Brazil is known as synonomous of Hospital Psychology. In recent years, the number of psychologists admited by the Brazilian public health system is growing up, chalenging clinical psychologists and hospital psychologists to be “health psychologists”, that is to work with educational and preventive programs to protect and promote the public health.
In order to be a psychologist in Brazil, it is necessary to complete a specific graduate course in a Faculty of Psychology, and it is important to note that there are many public and private institutions that offer Psychology Formation. However, there is a tradition to become principally clinical psychologists by virtue of intership during the graduate course. In general, Health Psychology is only a matter of graduation course. Having interest to be a Health Psychologist, the just-graduated psychologist needs to suplement his/her knowledge doing specialization courses, or master and doctorate degrees. It will take time to spread and consolidate the Health Psychology formation in Brazil, but there are important actions in progress to get there. For example, Helth Psychology is a theme strongly present in Brazilian scientific congresses fostered by Psychology Associations. Additionally, the Federal Council of Psychology – the most important entity to control the professional practice of psychology in Brazil, mandated by Law 5766/1971, regulated by Decree 79822 of 17 June 1977 – promotes discussion on the major issues in psychology leading to the qualification for professional services, including the services of health psychologists.
For reference, see Gorayeb, Ricardo. (2010). Psicologia da saúde no Brasil. Psicologia: Teoria e Pesquisa, 26(spe), 115-122. Retrieved January 15, 2016, from http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0102-37722010000500010&lng=en&tlng=pt.
Federal Council of Psychology
All Brazilian psychologists must be member of the Federal Council of Psychology to work as psychologist. There are currently 269.692 psychologists in Brazil (http://www2.cfp.org.br/infografico/quantos-somos/).
Link to webpage: www.cfp.org.br (Portuguese)
In Brazil, Health Psychology courses are offered by most Associations and Universities under the programs of Psychology. Psychologists and other health professionals have access to short courses, specialization courses (lato sensu), or master and doctorate courses (stricto sensu) around the country.
Research in Health Psychology field is primarily done by individual Health Psychology researchers and academics who mostly received Brazilian Fundings from CNPq – National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (http://www.cnpq.br/), and CAPES – Cordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (http://www.capes.gov.br/). Those agencies accept partnerships with foreign researchers (http://www.cnpq.br/web/guest/in-english-summary)/( http://www.iie.org/Programs/CAPES).