Health and Medical Psychology

The major aim of the Health Psychology specialisation is to provide you with the theoretical background and professional skills required for health psychology research and interventions.

Would you like to be involved in this new and rapidly developing sub-discipline of psychology? Health Psychology can be described as:

“the aggregate of the specific educational, scientific and professional contributions of the discipline of psychology to the promotion and maintenance of health, the prevention and treatment of illness, the identification of etiological and diagnostic correlates of health and illness and related dysfunction, and the analysis and improvement of the health care system and health policy” (Matarazzo, 1982).

Scientist-practitioner model

The Master’s Programme in Psychology gives you insight into the in-depth study of theory and into the acquisition of professional and research skills. The distinctive feature of the Leiden programme is that it is not restricted to teaching you only about the functioning of psychological processes. Within a scientist-practitioner model these insights are always connected to their behavioural consequences. The aim is to understand self-regulation and behavioural control. In this way not only do you develop your knowledge of psychology as a science, you also learn to apply this knowledge. You learn to understand practical problems and to develop effective interventions for dealing with these problems.

Aim of the programme

The major aim of the Health Psychology specialisation is to provide you with the theoretical background and professional skills required for health psychology research and interventions. The programme also focuses on the development of your skills required to work in multidisciplinary teams, independently analyse problems, evaluate clinical programmes and report on clinical issues orally and in writing.

Professional skills

This specialisation will provide advanced training including skills relevant to health promotion and disease prevention. Furthermore, you learn to apply the intervention methods to the well-being of the physically ill and the self-management of chronic diseases.

Research skills

In line with the profile of Leiden University as a research-intensive institution, the teaching programme is based on state-of-the art scientific research. It maintains a strong emphasis on the acquisition of academic and research skills. Training is provided in all relevant skills, including:

  • Reviewing the relevant literature
  • Applying theoretical knowledge to analyse practical problems
  • Developing hypotheses and writing research proposals
  • Designing and carrying out empirical studies
  • Designing and evaluating the effectiveness of interventions
  • Conducting advanced statistical analyses
  • Presenting results and recommendations

Master details

  • This is a specialisation of: Psychology
  • Degree Master of Science in Psychology
  • Mode of study Full-time
  • Duration 1 year
  • Start date September and February
  • Language of instruction English
  • Location Leiden
  • Croho/isat code 66604

What our alumni say

Mariska Blom, MSc

“As a psychologist, I give at different practices brief psychological treatments, mostly based on cognitive behavioural therapy.”

“During my Health Psychology study at Leiden University, I did my internship at a hospital in The Hague for one full year. I worked at the Medical Psychology department, where I carried out interventions and treatments on patients who needed psychological help. The psychological interventions and somatic complaints of the patients varied a lot, which made the work very interesting.

Now I work for Parnassia, a large institution specialised in mental health care. As a psychologist, I work at different general practices and I give brief psychological treatments. Most treatments are based on cognitive behavioural therapy and the main complaints are depression, anxiety, grief and relationship problems. I really enjoy my work, because all my patients have different complaints and I have the opportunity to treat a very broad field of problems.

In the master’s in Health Psychology I expected to learn about the relationship between somatic complaints and psychological health and also about health promotion and psychological interventions. The master’s lived up to these expectations and in addition I also learned a lot about diagnostic skills and psychological disorders. Looking back, the courses in Basic therapeutic skills and Cognitive- behavioural interventions were particularly helpful for the work I am doing now. In these courses I learned many basic and general interventions, which I now use in practice. I would definitely recommend the master’s in Health Psychology to students who are interested in the combination of psychology, health behaviour and somatic complaints or diseases.”

Student Ambassador

Write a student or become a student for a day!

Hi future Master students!

A quick introduction about myself. My name is Marjolein Mulder; I am 22 years old, and was born and raised in the South West of the Netherlands. Earlier this year I became the student ambassador for Master students in Psychology at Leiden University.

After completing my Bachelors’ degree in Psychology at Leiden and travelling in Portugal, Thailand and Australia, I returned to begin my Master’s degree in Economic and Consumer Psychology. While I am very happy with the choice I made, leading up to the decision I experienced the inevitable stress about which particular Master’s degree I wanted to pursue.

To help ease the stresses of choosing the right Master’s degree, we introduce the ‘Student for a Day’ activity for you! As a student ambassador, I will easily connect you to a Master student that is currently following the Master’s specialization of your interest. After drinking a coffee together, you will attend an lecture pertaining to this specialization. This is a unique and ideal way for you to get all your questions about the programme in Leiden answered. It is our hope that this brings you that bit closer to making a well informed choice that suits you best!

If you would like to stay informed about the upcoming ‘Student for a Day’ activities, check this link. If you want to know more, please do not hesitate to send me an email or chat to me when you see me around at the faculty.

I hope to see you at one of the Student for a Day activities!

Cheers, Marjolein

Student ambassador Master Psychology

What our alumni say

Julia Henrich, MSc

“The connection between body and mind, between our health and the way we think and feel is fascinating.”

“When I started the Master in a double specialisation in Health and Clinical Psychology at Leiden, I wanted to learn more about this connection, and also what psychologists can do to promote health and a healthy relationship towards body and mind. This Master’s specialisation at Leiden University had a good balance of courses that were more applicable for clinical work and courses that prepared for a career in research or intervention design.”

“I felt very lucky that I had inspirational supervisors for both my internship and my master thesis. During my research internship at the ‘Leids Universitair Medisch Centrum’ (LUMC) I looked at the relationship between parental coping and healthy development of children that had a type of fetal therapy before they were born. I liked working in an interdisciplinary team at the LUMC, and I see myself working in a hospital both as a researcher and as a clinical psychologist in the future. For my master thesis I investigated the effectiveness of psychological treatments for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

“Inspired to pursue a career as a researcher in health psychology, I applied at many places in the Netherlands, Germany and England. I was accepted at Oxford University Department of Experimental Psychology to examine the effects of mindfulness therapy in IBS. It took approximately a year to find a scholarship and a grant that now pays for my research project, university fees and my living costs.”

“At the department of Experimental Psychology I work with many inspiring and talented colleagues. Doing a PhD is both challenging and very rewarding. I work hard, learn a lot and aim to maintain a good work-home balance. Aiming to understand the effects of mindfulness and meditation on mental and physical health will keep me fascinated for many years.”

“Tip for future students: next to following the curriculum of the University, go to conferences, symposia and talk to lecturers, clinicians and researchers involved in health-, clinical and neuropsychology. This will broaden your horizon on the ‘hot-topics’ and challenges in the field and fuel your curiosity and shape ideas for solving complex clinical and research questions.”

Warm wishes,
Julia Henrich

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