lee bowers, ph.d.

Lee A. Bowers, Ph.D.

Medical or health psychologists have post doctoral training in various methods to help patients who have chronic and/or serious medical problems. Typically this includes working with the person on managing the emotional aspects of their illness, and also, reducing physical symptoms of the disease and the side effects of various treatments.

In 1986, research on neuropeptides by neuroscientist Candace Pert at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) demonstrated that we truly are a body/mind, as opposed to a separate body and mind. Pert showed that every cell in the body has both physical and emotional memory and function. The implications of this research are far reaching, and have served as a theoretical basis for much of the work of medical psychologists.

Most diseases common in modern society are opportunistic. When we experience a traumatic event or live in a state of chronic stress, the immune system is severely compromised. As a result, the body becomes more hospitable to everything from allergies to cancer. A medical psychologist helps clients properly process the stresses in their lives with the intention of bolstering the immune system. They also help clients manage specific conditions. For example, a patient with cancer might be in a state of shock from the diagnosis, feel fear and confusion about the treatment options, or depression over a poor prognosis or the limitations the disease poses. They might also worry about the effect the illness will have on loved ones. The medical psychologist helps the person manage this emotional turmoil.

Medical psychologists are also trained in various interventions to help patients minimize physical symptoms. Some of the techniques that are commonly used are behavioral interventions and relaxation techniques, hypnosis, and guided imagery, which all tend to effect physical changes by enhancing the person�s immune system and decreasing tension. Energy medicines such as acupressure, bodywork, and homeopathy are also frequently used. Different practitioners have different training and specialties.

Individual practitioners may have specific areas of focus. Pain management is one of the most common, because pain responds so well to psychological intervention. Pain is a combination of many things � the actual physical site of the pain, exacerbated by tension, fear, and anxiety. When the patient can learn to relax his or her body, there is a natural reduction of pain. Most of my work in Medical Psychology is as a pain specialist (cancer, fibromyalgia, arthritis, etc.) and allergy elimination work (yes, in most cases, allergies can be permanently eliminated). Others specialize in neuromuscular, genetic, or birth disorders, gynecological problems, or other specific ailments. Most medical psychologists will work with any presenting problem, in conjunction and consultation with other health care providers.

This information was prepared by Lee A. Bowers, Ph.D. Dr. Bowers is a Licensed Psychologist in Villanova, PA. She has a specialty in Health Psychology and a Fellow of the Pennsylvania Psychological Association. She is listed in the 2nd Edition of Who�s Who in Healthcare. For more information regarding Medical Psychology, you can visit her website at: HYPERLINK http://www.drleebowers.com www.drleebowers.com, contact her at: (610) 520-0443, or e-mail her at: leebowers@comcast.net.