Health Psychology

Gain an insight into the behaviours and attitudes that put health at risk and how to change these behaviours to promote better health.

Health Psychology students use quantitative and qualitative research methods to study underlying behaviour and activities that impact on or enhance individual and social health and wellbeing. They focus on health-enhancing activities such as exercise and rehabilitation, reducing risky behaviour such as smoking, and learn how to develop strategies to influence others to change behaviours.

Roles and career pathways

Graduates with an undergraduate degree may work in roles that involve understanding and engaging with others such as wellbeing advisers, case managers, helping others in disability support, youth engagement, coaching, or training roles. They can also be found in advisory, business development, or programme coordinator roles. An Honours or postgraduate qualification can be helpful for graduates wanting to work in general health policy and research.

Postgraduate qualifications in Psychology, Health Psychology, Neuroscience, or Cross-cultural Psychology are helpful for graduates looking to work in these competitive areas and work in roles such as health psychologist or behavioural specialist. Students who fulfil the workplace experience requirements are then eligible to apply for registration as a psychologist with the New Zealand Psychologists Board. To work as a clinical psychologist, a postgraduate clinical qualification is required. This consists of either a Master’s or PhD in Psychology or Health Psychology, followed by a postgraduate diploma in Clinical Psychology. This is followed by the two years’ work experience required for professional registration. A PhD is usually needed to work in specialist research in psychology.

Where Health Psychology graduates work

Graduates will apply their critical thinking, analytical, and interpersonal skills in a range of health and related organisations, including district health boards (DHBs), primary health organisations (PHOs), or non governmental organisations (NGOs). Here are just a few examples:

Graduate  career stories

Build relevant skills and experience

Part-time work and volunteering during study all help to increase your job prospects when you graduate. Programmes such as Wellington Plus and Wellington International Leadership Programme (WILP) develop leadership skills and practical experience. Students who volunteer in the health sector can learn more about where they can apply their skills and develop valuable connections. Volunteering for wellbeing activities on campus and as leaders in student support space The Bubble at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington offer good opportunities to gain real-life experience in areas such as health promotion and mental health through peer support initiatives.

The Bachelor of Health offers Research and Enquiry in Health and Health Internship courses, which provide students the opportunity to develop applied research or workplace skills and experience. Places for the health internship are limited. The WFHSS Internship course run by the Wellington Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences also helps develop leadership skills and practical workplace experience.

Make career connections

Making connections with individuals and groups during your degree can help you learn more about career opportunities. The New Zealand Psychological Society (NZPsS) offers free student membership to students studying Psychology at a postgraduate level. Networking associations such as the Wellington Chamber of Commerce, Wellington Young Professionals, and the Victoria Students' Psychology Association offer various events and opportunities for networking. The Alumni as Mentors programme for final-year students also helps enhance your connections and employability while studying.