Hermann wants to lose weight. He wants to do more sport. He wants to look like he did ten years ago, at the age of 40 when he was still in good shape and felt young. And yet, as soon as he gets home from work in the evening, he shuns the mineral water and reaches for a beer from the fridge, and instead of preparing a salad he fills himself up with heavy pasta or fatty sausages. Then he feels bad and berates himself for his lack of discipline.
It’s not just about how he looks, though – Hermann’s doctor recently told him he is at risk of developing diabetes and he urgently needs to get more exercise and improve his diet. Hermann knows that already. But how can he actually change his habits and put his good intentions into practice? This problem is not unique to Hermann, but is faced by many of those who want to change their lifestyles.
Every person has within them the potential to improve their health, and this potential can be harnessed in different ways. Self-belief, along with lifestyle changes, is key – the field of health psychology and mind-body medicine is concerned with both these factors. Mind-body medicine is a concept that combines psychological and physical aspects of health. “We use modern scientific findings and proven methods from nutrition and sports sciences as well as complementary medicine and psychology,” explains Claudia Witt, professor of complementary and integrative medicine in the Faculty of Medicine at UZH.
Urte Scholz, professor of applied social and health psychology in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and Claudia Witt have now developed a new continuing education course in the field. The unique cross-faculty and interdisciplinary CAS offers participants working in the field of psychology or the medical and healthcare sector an overview of evidence-based methods and theories in both disciplines. “There is always an interplay between physical illness and mental health,” says Urte Scholz. Data shows that patients have to take fewer drugs and have more energy if they take better care of themselves in their day-to-day lives.
From words to actions
Back to Hermann: What he needs – as do many other people like him – is specific support in implementing his lifestyle changes. A decisive factor for success is whether his doctor knows about behavior-changing techniques that will enable Hermann to put his plans into action, even when external or internal hurdles get in the way. For example, it is important not just to say you want to eat better, but to make specific plans for what you will eat when and where. People also need to be aware of the personal difficulties that might arise and how they can overcome them. The course will teach the tools and skills that are scientifically proven to be of help to those trying to change their lifestyles.
The good news is: Lifestyle change is possible, and support by trained specialists can help people to achieve it and increase their likelihood of success. Training professionals in the field of health psychology and mind-body medicine won’t just help patients, therefore, but will also reduce costs in the healthcare system.
Continuing Education at the University of Zurich
The University of Zurich’s continuing education program ranges from longer courses leading to an MAS, DAS or CAS, and shorter courses lasting one or more days, to in-house training and training in university teaching and learning. All these programs and courses draw on the latest research findings in their content.
The new program will be published in the fall of 2018.
There are still a few places available on the CAS in physical and mental lifestyle change and mind-body medicine; for inquiries please use the online application form.
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