United States Department of Veterans Affairs

Washington DC VA Medical Center

Health Psychology

The Health Psychology Program is unique in that it utilizes multiple programs at the medical center for the varying mental health and medical needs of the veterans the program serves. The three programs affiliated with Health Psychology at the Washington VA Medical Center include the Health Improvement Program (HIP), the Neurology Chronic Pain Clinic, and MOVE! (a national weight management program).

HIP is an outpatient program that serves veterans with serious mental illness and co-morbid medical problems. HIP works with veterans and their providers to improve patients’ health by utilizing social skills training, health education, veterans services, individual therapy sessions, and health monitoring. Veterans gain knowledge and skills allowing them to be in more control of their health. The program has an average length of three to four months and has groups which meet twice weekly. To refer a patient to HIP, please either put in a consult for the Health Improvement Program or simply add Dr. Slavomir Zapata as an additional signer to your note.

The Neurology Chronic Pain Clinic is a consult service designed to assist in the management of veterans with chronic, intractable pain. All eligible patients undergo a detailed neurological examination, psychological evaluation, and physical medicine/rehabilitation assessment. They are then referred for additional services as necessary (e.g., psychiatric evaluation, acupuncture, etc.). The primary goal of the psychotherapeutic interventions provided by Dr. Zapata is to minimize the negative impact of pain on the patient’s life. To this end, clinic patients are invited to participate in a psychoeducational class taught by Dr. Zapata. In this supportive, participatory class, patients are taught non-medical pain-management strategies (e.g. relaxation, cognitive restructuring, etc.) and are encouraged to begin incorporating these techniques into their daily lives. Depending on available resources, the patients may also be offered individual or group psychotherapy aimed at facilitating adjustment to their chronic pain conditions and the associated losses. To refer a patient to the Chronic Pain Management Clinic, please enter a consult to the "Pain Clinic." If the veteran is not in need of medical consultation but is interested in psychological intervention related to chronic pain, please enter a consult to Psychology to the attention of Slavomir Zapata, Ph.D. Please feel free to contact Dr. Zapata at ext. 5695 for additional information.

The VA National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (NCP) has developed a VA weight management and physical activity program entitled MOVE! (Managing Overweight/Obesity for Veterans Everywhere) for use throughout the VHA. The program provides a standardized format for provision of weight management, physical activity evaluation and treatment in VHA. The treatment components are deliverable in modules, and are tailored for individual differences in medical status, age, ethnicity, and readiness to engage in weight management and physical activity behaviors. MOVE! utilizes the psychology service to provide cognitive and behavioral interventions for patients who may be experiencing changes in mood such as depression as a result of their health concerns and chronic medical conditions. To refer a patient to MOVE!, please enter a consult to "MOVE."