Dr. Stefan Höfer PhD, MSc
Associate Professor (Clinical and Health Psychology) at the Department of Medical Psychology,
Innsbruck Medical University, Austria
So far about 9500 psychologists are registered as licensed health psychologists. They are employed in universities, hospitals, welfare institutions or operate private practices.
Austria hosted the EHPS Conferences in Vienna (1998) and Innsbruck (2014).
Education, training and professionalisation:
According to the Austrian Act of Psychologists training in health psychology (and in clinical psychology) is a postgraduate course for psychologists (master's degree in psychology), and the contents of training are fixed in the Austrian Act of Psychologists. The course includes theoretical instruction of at least 160 hours and practical training of at least 1480 hours in institutions of the social and health system (eg. Hospital, counselling center). The institutions offering the theoretical and practical training have to be approved by the Federal Ministry of Health, Family and Youth. Advanced education is one of the professional obligations of health psychologists. Courses are offered by several training institutions.
Since 1990 the profession of health psychologists is regulated by the Austrian Act of Psychologists ("Psychologengesetz"-PG). Health psychologists practising their profession must use the designation "Gesundheitspsychologe / Gesundheitspsychologin". There are about 7.200 psychologists licensed as health psychologists (May 2011), most of them are clinical psychologists too. Practising psychology in the health services is reserved to health psychologists and clinical psychologists. Licensing and registration is administered and controlled by the Federal Ministry of Health, Family and Youth (www.bmg.gv.at). The list of all licensed health and clinical psychologists is published by the Ministry (www.jpp.bmg.gv.at).
Research results on Health Psychology in Austria are published in international journals but regularly also in the Journal of the Austrian Professional Association of Psychologists (Psychologie in Österreich). The concentration is mostly on applied health psychology with target groups such as children and adolescents, adults and seniors. In the following the contents of some of the recently published projects are presented.
Target group children and adolescents:
• attention training
• relaxation training
• anti-aggression training
• stress management
• parent counseling
• social anxiety
• accident prevention
Target group adults:
• health plans
• nutrition counseling
• life crises
• stress management
• smoking cessation
Target group seniors:
• quality of life
• memory training
• medication compliance
• bereavement support
• brain training
• life crises
• hearing impairment
The theoretical research focuses among other things on the issues of compliance, quality of life, psychology of nutrition, health awareness, smoking cessation and stress prevention.
2012: The Austrian Act of Psychologists and an initiative to create outstanding experts in smoking cessation therapy among psychologists. In the next future the Austrian Act of Psychologists will be amended and health psychology as an own discipline will get a significant appreciation. So far the new version has not passed the parliament. Details will be reported after law is adopted. As with other health professions, it is important for health-psychologists to have enough experts on smoking cessation available, in order to provide ideal opportunities for affected people within the framework of interdisciplinary offers to provide ideal conditions to achieve tobacco abstinence. To promote psychological counselling for smoking cessation, a postgraduate training concept was developed, which includes tobacco-symposia, “hands on” seminars, and a practical guidance in form of a manual. The 5th tobacco-symposium was held in Vienna on May 5th, 2012, where about 120 psychologists participated.