Division 22. Smart. Strong. Compassionate

Rehabilitation Psychology is a calling. Strong, compassionate professionals apply the discipline of psychology to the daily needs resulting from disability. The challenges of spinal cord injuries, strokes, amputations, AIDS and MS are typical issues facing Division 22. In rehabilitation facilities, hospitals, private practices, government programs and schools we blend compassion, care and insight to help patients confront incapacity, pain, immobility and isolation.


  • Division 22 was established in 1958, one of the earliest Divisions in the American Psychological Association.

  • Psychologists have worked in medical rehabilitation settings for more than a half century, long before psychologists were regularly involved in other health care settings.

  • Division 22 members conducted the early research on individual, interpersonal, and social changes related to changes in appearance and physical capacity, as well as the social psychology of stereotyping and prejudice faced by persons with disability.

  • Division 22 members were among the pioneers helping psychology understand the world of work, how this can be affected by impairment and disability, and issues about vocational rehabilitation.

  • Rehabilitation psychologists have worked to change attitudes towards persons with disability from pity, charity, and aversion to understanding, acceptance and "differently abled" expectations.

  • Rehabilitation Psychology initiated a focus on issues of children and adolescents with disabilities and chronic conditions, recognizing the need for special health and social care for these individuals.


  • Leaders from the Division establish the Foundation for Rehabilitation Psychology in 2010.

  • ABPP in Rehabilitation Psychology established, 1997.

  • In a Rehabilitation Psychology primary care model, services are provided to individuals with disability and their families throughout the life span, as needed, in brief interventions.

  • Rehabilitation Psychologists work and advocate with persons with disabilities to eliminate attitudinal, policy and physical barriers, and to emphasize employment, environmental access, and social role and community integration.

  • Rehabilitation Psychologists conceptualize, test and implement new theoretical understandings of personal and social adjustment to disability, and the interaction with social role and vocational functioning.

  • Division 22 Psychological Services and Professional Issues Committee has assumed a leadership role in the APA Practice Directorate's Federal Advocacy Network (January 1994).

  • Division 22 organized the APA Conference on Health Care Reform and Psychological Practice in Health Care Settings (May 1994).

  • Division 22 played a key role in developing the APA Interdivisional Health Care Committee (August 1996).


  • Increasing involvement in how data are conceptualized and used to define policy issues, structure and manage health care systems, and understand health- and cost-related consumer decisions in regards to persons with disabilities.

  • Increasingly serve as program directors, e.g., in sub-acute traumatic brain injury treatment programs, and in pain management and work restoration programs.

  • Formulate new models of psychological service delivery, including home care, para-professionals supervised under practice guidelines and critical paths, and others.

  • Coordinate multi-disciplinary and multi-agency resources to facilitate self-sufficiency and community integration for persons with disabilities.

  • Contribute to injury prevention and health habit promotion to reduce the incidence of disabling conditions.

  • Continue to advocate with and for persons with disabilities within a changing health care environment, and build strength through unity with other health care psychologists.