Health Psychology and Wellness


Since the times of the ancient Greeks and Romans, the intersection and interaction between the body, brain and mind has been emphasized in order to understand human differences, abilities, performance and functioning. Health psychology is concerned with understanding how psychological, behavioral, and cultural factors contribute to physical health, illness, motivation and optimal performance. For example, chronically occurring environmental stressors can affect physical and brain function, concentration, treatment response and goal attainment. Health psychologists take a bio-psycho-social approach. In other words, health psychologists understand health to be the product not only of biological processes (e.g., a virus, tumor, etc.) but also of psychological (e.g., thoughts and beliefs), behavioral (e.g., habits), and social processes (e.g., socioeconomic status and ethnicity).


Although clinical psychology is concerned with malfunction and the treatment of mental health disorders, health psychology and positive psychology concerns the assessment of strengths and enhancing functioning and psychological factors that affect health, response to medical treatment, surgical response and human performance across a number of domains. The essence of this field is the examination and intervention of the key aspects of behavior change. From an intervention perspective, this involves an assessment of the individual’s current level of cognitive functioning and self-concept towards enhancing goal attainment and performance. The mind-body connection is a key aspect in accomplishing goals related to medical treatment, establishing and maintaining an effective therapeutic alliance with medical and allied service providers, athletics, overcoming illness and professional success. Therefore, in order to improve functioning, it is necessary to determine how the person thinks, problem solves, interprets interactions with others and thinks about themselves and others as well as what the person thinks about these things.

During his 33 year career in the mental health field, he has evaluated and provided mental health services for individuals within a wide variety of clinical and non-clinical settings. During his graduate training and clinical experiences, he received extensive training in motivation interviewing, motivational counseling and health psychology in addition to my training related to forensic psychology. Over the years, he has maintained a focus on positive psychology and motivation and have assisted clients in their efforts to accomplish behavior change across a number of situations and clinical areas of practice. This has included human performance, smoking cessation, weight loss/control, coping with physical illness and criminal recidivism.

Examples of questions and areas of change Dr. Cunliffe would be able to assist:

• Why can’t I lose weight?
• Why can’t I stop smoking?
• How can I improve my social and intimate relationships?
• How can I help my patients/clients maximize the benefits from medical procedures and advice?
• How can I improve my athletic performance?
• How can I improve my problem solving and personal and professional success?
• How can I stop procrastinating?
• How can I improve my academic success?