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Health Psych Portfolio

Instructions and Prompts

What follows is a list of ideas and suggestions for things you might include in your health psych. portfolio.  As a general guideline, each of the 6 submissions should be 2-3 pages of typed, double-spaced, quality information.

For each entry, organize the write-up using the following subsections: A. describe an event personally witnessed and/or experienced (1/2 page), B. explain how it relates to one or more specific concepts, theories, findings, or applications we’ve learned about in health psych (1 page), and C. include a critical-analytical description of a related (layman’s) website (1/2 page).


The ideas and suggestions below are intended to “get you started” only. They do not outline everything you need to write about. Nor is the list exhaustive. You are welcome to generate your own ideas. If you are not sure if they are appropriate, run them by me first.

CAUTION:  to do well, you will need to be specific, thorough, reflective, and insightful. I am a good “B.S. Fluff Detector”.  Entries which have a lot of this will receive no more than a C grade.

The portfolio is due Nov. 30th.

The standard late policy applies.

Chapter 1

  • The reciprocal relationship between mind and body is a key concept in health psychology. Describe an example of this that you have personally experienced.

  • Perceptions of health and illness have changed over the years. Even today, perceptions differ by culture. Practitioners of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) typically hold different beliefs than physicians who adhere to the Biomedical Model. If you have tried a CAM, or you know someone who is a CAM practitioner, describe the specific CAM approach.

  • Interview someone who is at least 80 years old (and still cognitively sharp J). Ask them to describe what the most common injuries and illnesses were when they were children. How were these treated? What was health care like? Did preventative medicine exist? What were doctors and hospitals like? etc…..

  • Describe two distinctly different cultures you belong to. For each one, describe and explain the psychosocial contributions each makes to your health behaviors which then impact your overall well-being.

  • The library subscribes to the journal Find an empirical study in one of the issues that you can personally relate to. Make sure you can understand the study’s research design and the statistics they used. Use the section in chapter 1 on research methods to critically evaluate the study’s methods and conclusions. Be sure to look for possible confounds.


Chapter 6

  • Use one of the models of health behavior (except the transactional model) to explain one of your own health behaviors. Be sure to address all aspects of a specific model. Note: make sure you understand the difference between a health behavior and a health consequence (e.g. being overweight = health consequence, eating too much and not exercising enough = health behaviors)

  • Describe a gain-framed and a loss-framed cue to action you have recently seen. Which one do you think you would respond best to and why.


  • On a “typical” day, write down all your behavioral pathogens and immunogens. Relate each one to a specific aspect of wellness (the one it most directly relates to):physical, emotional, social, spiritual, intellectual, and occupational.


Chapter 4

  • Keep a stress diary for 1 week. Record each stressor, indicate whether it was physical or psychological, and its intensity (mild, moderate, severe). Reflect back on the diary. What have you learned about what stresses you out?

  • Write down your hassles one day, and your uplifts the next. Repeat 3 more times so you end up with 4 days of hassles and 4 days of uplifts. At the end of each day, record your overall mood and feelings of wellbeing you experienced throughout the day. What did you learn?


  • Wait until you experience a stressor strong enough to trigger a “flight or fight” response. What symptoms did you experience?


  • If you are gainfully employed, try this one. Pretend YOU are a health psychologist who has been hired to identify the major sources of stress at your work. You’ve also been asked to suggest ways of improving the situation. Go!


Chapter 5


  • Ask one of the employees at the post office when their busiest time typically is (day of week/time of day). Then show up at that time and observe the people waiting in line. Record the behaviors and other signs of stress in the clients. Note the strategies you think people were using to cope with the stress of waiting. Which of these do you think were the most and least healthy.


  • Keep a stress diary for 1 week. Record each stressor and how you reacted and coped with it. Reflect back on the diary. What have you learned about your coping styles and skills (e.g. emotion focused vs problem focused)?


  • Think about someone you know and whom you see often. What do they seem to be stressed by and how do they cope with stress? Are their techniques effective? Why or why not?What might they do differently?


  • Write down what you would consider to be the most important people and institutions in your social support network and where they are in “the web”. An actual drawing of a web might help. Remember, placement is not just based on frequency of interaction. How much you value that person/institution is also important. Now honestly assess what you give vs get back from each, as well as how much support vs stress you receive from each. Given this information, redraw the web.Can you and should you try to make this new web a reality?


  • Practice mindful meditation combined with diaphragmatic breathing for 1 week. Document the number and severity of stressors during that week. Is mindful meditation + diaphragmatic breathing helping at all?


  • Practice progressive muscle relaxation for 1 week. Document the number and severity of stressors during that week. Is mindful meditation + diaphragmatic breathing helping at all?


Chapter 8


  • Describe a recent illness/condition where you engaged in one or more of the following delays: appraisal, illness, and/or utilization. What factors contributed to those delays?

  • Describe either a really good or really bad relationship you have with a health care provider. What factors do you think contribute to the way the relationship the way it is?What have been some good (or bad) consequences of this relationship?

  • Describe a situation where you did not adhere to treatment. What were the reasons behind your non-adherence? What would have improved your adherence?

  • Describe a case of iatrogenic illness that you or someone close to you experienced. How might this have been prevented… what could you (or that other person) have done differently?


  • Do you, or someone close to you, have a high deductible health care plan?If yes, has your decision to seek treatment or the type of treatment ever been affected by this plan?


Chapter 9

  • Describe a recent (as long as you remember the details) pain experience you had. What were some of the bio-psycho-social variables that either increased or decreased your pain. Knowing what you know now, is there anything you wished you could’ve done differently?


Chapter  13

  • Interview someone who has recently had a heart attack (make sure they are truly comfortable being interviewed).Using the biopsychosocial perspective, ask them what they thought might have contributed to their heart attack. What, if any, lifestyle changes have they made since their heart attack?


  • What biopsychosocial factors put YOU ask risk for CHD?What changes, if any, are you willing to make to reduce the risk?If you identified changes, but are not willing to make them… why not?


Chapter 14

  • If you are thinking about a career in health psychology or a related field…. Tell me what career you thinking about?What have you learned about this career?(look at the websites suggested in chapter 14’s pptx). What will/can you do at the UG level to advance you toward your goal?Research some potential programs in the field you are considering – where are they?What are they looking for re: pre-requisites?


  • Hopefully, this class has changed you… your knowledge, thoughts, behaviors, attitudes toward health. Describe these changes.How might you use what you know to help others?

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