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Book Review - The New Psychology of Health: Unlocking the Social Cure

Updated: Oct 23, 2020

The New Psychology of Health - Unlocking the Social Cure is a collaboration of four authors with a combination of specialisms in Clinical and Social Psychology. It was clear just from an initial review of the book that hard work and passion had gone into the creation of the book. The book does not seem to specify an audience; however, it is applicable to Practitioners, Psychologists, academics, students, and anyone with an interest in health.

The purpose of this book is to highlight the importance of the social identity approach from a health and wellbeing perspective. As a former Health Psychology student, I was aware of the importance of the Biopsychosocial approach within health and wellbeing, but this book takes this approach one step further by evidencing that the social aspect is one of the most important proponents.

The book is separated into fifteen condensed chapters that flow well and are easily accessible to a diverse audience. The topics included a range of areas within the physical and mental health domains along with more socially specific areas such as stigma and social disadvantage. Each chapter combines a range of approaches, case studies, current research and applications to practice. The chapters are broken into sub-chapters that are easy to navigate without feeling overwhelmed by the information given. Every other page includes diagrams, pictures or graphs that are not only used to illustrate the points being made but are also a good text breaker.

I was delighted to see at the end of each chapter that a ‘Points for Practice’ and ‘Resources Section’ was included. The points for practice outlines how to be inclusive when working with clients/patients within a specific area, allowing the practitioner to diversify their practice. I feel this would be a valuable and much appreciated tool for many. The resources section was useful for expansion on an area which included video links and websites.

The final chapter puts theory in practice, by presenting an intervention called Group-4-Health programme. An intervention with promising preliminary results, that can be implemented into current treatment plans. Following on from the last chapter an extensive appendix outlined ‘Measures of Identity and Health’, offering items and scales that can be included into practice and research. Again, another good toolkit to use.

The final section of the book outlines references, author index and hypotheses associated with approaches. I felt that the hypotheses would have been better placed at the end or the beginning of the reference section due to the importance of the approaches. This book comes at a pertinent time when the Health Secretary has begun to encourage an initiative towards ‘Social Prescribing’ for those with physical and mental health issues, including loneliness as an important component. This initiative has been put forward following the release of research indicating 7.3 million individuals, which includes 70,000 children were shown to be on anti-depressants (Smyth, 2018).

Overall, a pleasurable read that I will continue to keep referring to in both my client and research settings. The most important message I have taken from this book stated by the authors is

that “group-based dimensions of Psychology and behaviour are primary drivers of outcomes rather than by-products of physical and mental health”.


Haslam, C., Jetten, J., Cruwys, T., Dingle, G., Haslam, S. (2018). The New Psychology of Health. London: Routledge.

Smyth, C. (2018) ‘Doctors urged to offer more gardening courses and fewer pills’. The Times. [23rd July 2018]


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