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Clinical Health Psychology

About the Clinical Health Psychology Program

The study of clinical health psychology has emerged as a major exciting focus for clinical psychologists. The clinical health focus is conceived within a broader general focus in health psychology and is further facilitated by multidisciplinary work with physicians, sociologists, biologists, and health educators. Students choosing the clinical health focus take specialized courses and do specialized clinical work in addition to their core courses. By combining clinical health psychology with these other areas students receive a broader focus and can sub-specialize in a specific area of health within this broader context.

The Clinical Health Psychology area is part of a broad Health Psychology program within the Department of Psychological Sciences at Kent State. Our health psychology program is unusual in that health psychology faculty across areas work together and graduate students often choose mentors outside their own training program. So, some Experimental students have Clinical faculty mentors and some Clinical students have mentors from the Experimental faculty.  Many graduate students have secondary mentors that cross sub-disciplinary lines.

Research Training in Clinical Health Psychology

Clinical health psychology research is broadly defined as investigation into the interaction between psychological and physical health. It can focus on how diseases impact people psychologically or how psychological processes impact disease. Work can range from laboratory to medical/health to community settings. The training for the specialization in clinical health psychology involves engagement in research, in collaboration with a faculty mentor, on a topic related to health psychology, which may range from rather basic research to more applied investigations. During the course of graduate training, students develop a particular research interest area within the general area of the mentor's expertise. Students typically conduct both their master's thesis and doctoral dissertation in their identified area of interest.


Students complete all departmental and clinical core course requirements, as well as the clinical program's requisite number of clinical and experimental elective credits. Students in clinical health psychology may major or minor in this area. Students who major in the area take three courses: clinical aspects of health psychology, biological aspects of health psychology, and psychosocial aspects of health psychology. Students who minor take two courses and do not necessarily conduct their thesis/dissertation on a health-related topic. Students may also take additional health focused courses within and outside the department. Students may choose to have some of their elective requirements waived so that they can involve themselves in additional research projects.

Clinical Experiences

Clinical students complete their practicum requirements by taking the general practicum in their second year, and selecting an advanced or specialty practicum in their third year. It is recommended that students choose a third-year specialty practicum related to their research focus, if one is available. In addition, students may request that they be assigned cases related to their area of interest when it is possible and feasible for the Clinic to do this. Students also complete at least one year of the required field placement in an assessment and/or treatment setting, and we have several directly related to health.

Core Faculty

Clinical Health Faculty

Dr. Janis Crowther - Body image disturbance, chronic dieting, and binge eating.

Dr. John Gunstad - The neuropsychology of aging and disease, with a particular interest in cardiovascular disease and obesity.

Dr. Joel Hughes - The role of psychological and social factors in cardiovascular health and disease.

Experimental Health Faculty

Dr. Doug Delahanty - Psychophysiological predictors and correlates of posttraumatic stress; secondary pharmacological interventions for trauma victims.

Dr. Mary Ann Stephens - Coping, social support and psychological adjustment in response to chronic stress.

Dr. John Updegraff - Health communication and health behavior; Cognitive and emotional processes involved in well-being and adjustment to stress.

Faculty with Related Interests 

  • Dr. Karin Coifman   (Adult Psychopathology) studies emotion processing and the development of psychopathology in the context of acute stress and chronic illness.
  • Dr. Josefina Grau (Child Clinical) has interests in ethnic minority issues in mental health.
  • Dr. David Fresco (Adult Psychopathology) studies the association of cognitive and personality styles (e.g., explanatory flexibility, explanatory style, optimism) to psychological and physical health concerns; development of treatments to promote resiliency to stress.
  • Dr. David Riccio (Biopsychology) studies memory processes in posttraumatic stress disorder and retrieval mechanisms in amnesia using animal models.
  • Dr. Amy Sato - The role of stress and family influences in the etiology, maintenance, and treatment of pediatric health conditions (e.g., obesity).
  • Dr. Beth Wildman (Child Clinical) studies the identification and management of pediatric psychosocial problems in primary care.

Recent Clinical Health Ph.D.’s

Our clinical health program has been particularly successful in placing our graduates in professorships and postdoctoral training programs.  Here’s what some of our recent grads are doing now.

  • Litsa Banou, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Florida Gainesville
  • Rebecca Cameron, Ph.D., Sacramento State University
  • Elizabeth Casey, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Onondaga Community College, New York
  • Jennifer Ford, Ph.D., Psychologist, Sloane Kettering Cancer Center, New York
  • Pamela Geller, Ph.D., Drexel University
  • Therese Anne Keary, Ph.D., Adjunct Faculty, John Carroll University, Ohio
  • Tricia Leahey., Assistant Professor (Research), Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University
  • Jennifer MacKenzie, Ph.D., Kaiser Healthcare, California.
  • Nicole Nugent, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Fellow, Brown University
  • Sheethal Reddy Postdoctoral Fellowship at Emory University
  • Jerrimiah Schumm, Ph.D., Veterans Administration, Cincinnati.
  • Matthew Skinta, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, Harbor UCLA Medical Center.
  • Lisa Stines, Ph.D., PTSD Treatment & Research Program, Case Western Reserve University.
  • Abbey Tissot Postdoctoral Fellow, Cincinnati Childrens’ Hospital Medical Center
  • Lisa Wade, Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University
  • Ana Maria Vranceanu, Ph.D., Research Fellow, Harvard Medical School.
  • Ihori Kobayashi, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, Howard University
  • Sara Perez, Ph.D.,  Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Akron
  • Kristen Walter, Ph.D., Graduate Psychologist, Cincinnati VA Medical Center, PTSD and Anxiety Disorders Division
  • Kelly Stanek, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of Alabama
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