How Are Psychology and Nursing Related?

NursingMarch 15, 2014


As the mind and body are intricately interwoven, it is nearly impossible to separate mental health from physical health. Given the profound influence elements of wellness have upon each other, it is important to understand the connection between psychology and nursing. Coursework in a Bachelor of Science Nursing Program will include psychology courses that may provide foundational knowledge of human behavior, which is an acquisition that will help equip you for this profession.

Psychiatric Nursing

Although nurses outside the field of mental health may use their psychological expertise secondarily, those who enter this field may find that they use it principally. In fact, you can center your practice around it if you plan to work in a psychiatric facility or substance abuse center. Patients may have diagnoses of disorders such as depression and schizophrenia, and the knowledge of psychology serves as an integral part of patient assessment and treatment planning as well as counseling and crisis intervention. Nurses in this specialty also work with the families of patients, potentially teaching them how to cope with the challenges of their loved ones' illness. Like other psychology careers, mental health nursing focuses on the emotional and behavioral aspects of wellness.

Psychology in Other Nursing Specialties

Even if you do not work in the mental health area, you can still use psychology on a regular basis in your career. In the book Psychology for the Profession of Nursing, the author explains that the study of psychology is the key that enables nurses to understand the emotional reactions of their patients. Because of the mind-body relationship, it is possible to take into consideration the emotional needs of those in your care when addressing their physical health issues.

For example, anxiety may cause a patient to refuse to get out of bed. Since a lack of movement can lead to secondary complications, such as bedsores, blood clots and respiratory infections, you could adjust the treatment plan to accommodate this emotion. In this case, the adaptation could include establishing easy short-term goals like getting out of bed three times a day, while encouraging this patient with the problem and not starting him out with an overly ambitious treatment goal.

Psychology in Nurse-Patient Relationships

If you have the trust of your patients, the likelihood that they will communicate openly about their symptoms and follow instructions to expedite their recovery is heightened. When nurses understand the behavior of their patients and provide them with emotional support, such relationships are fostered. Your training in psychology can serve you well in this capacity.

The link between psychology and nursing cannot be overemphasized because of the association between mental and physical health. Case in point: Stressful feelings can raise blood pressure, and depression can cause insomnia. In light of this strong connection, psychology will play a vital role in your work as a nurse.

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