Behavioral specialists can have a wide range of clinical backgrounds; generally these physicians provide diagnoses, treatments and management plans for those with undesirable behaviors such as an addiction.

Watch an Overview of Behavioral Medicine

About Behavioral Medicine

Behavioral medicine is the study, diagnosis, treatment and management of psychological disorders and behaviors. Physicians who practice behavioral medicine are trained to integrate their knowledge of the biomedical, psychosocial, and behavioral sciences when providing care to patients. At its core, behavioral medicine is a multidisciplinary field – many types of physicians are capable of providing care within the specialty.

A wide range of clinical and public health areas are studied, researched and practiced by behavioral specialists. This may include adolescent medicine, pediatrics, bariatrics, psychiatry, and family medicine, among many others. Additionally, those involved in behavioral health may also study, research and treat symptoms and conditions such as depression, anxiety, asthma, obesity, public health, substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, and more. Because a patient’s behavior can play massively a influential role with regard to an individual’s state of health, behavioral medicine specialists are uniquely positioned to provide preventive and interventional care that can drastically improve a patient’s well-being and quality of life.

When providing interventional behavioral treatment, behavioral medicine specialists are trained to integrate three different strategic areas. First, these specialists are trained to provide patients with healthy lifestyle changes. These changes, such as improved diet or cessation of smoking, are designed to increase the overall health of the patient and decrease the risk factors for developing chronic diseases and conditions. Additionally, behavioral specialists introduce patients to self-training methods, such as self-monitoring, time management, coping, communication skills, and more.

Behavioral Medicine Education & Training

Being a multidisciplinary field, many type of doctors may become specialists in the study of behavioral medicine. After attending a four year college with a Bachelor’s degree, an aspiring physician must then gain entrance to a four year medical college and earn either a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO).

Following medical school, a physician undergoes further education as the enter a medical residency, which can vary in years based on the nature of the residency. Upon completion, a one year behavioral medicine fellowship is required to be certified as a behavioral medicine doctor.