Meet Dr. Kristin Phillips

What inspired you to pursue a career as a Health Psychologist?

I became a Health Psychologist to help people live their best lives. I was astonished at the fact that so many of the leading causes of death in the United States (such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, lung disease, type II diabetes, liverdisease, and kidney disease) were conditions that are affected by lifestyle factors, such as diet and physical activity.

I attended college at USF where I had the honor of conducting my undergraduate research at Moffitt Cancer Centers Tobacco Research and Intervention Program. I was then accepted to the Behavioral Medicine track at the University of Miamis Clinical Psychology Program, where I learned about the effects of behavioral factors on health conditions such as heart disease, obesity, HIV, diabetes, and cancer. While at UM, I worked as aResearch Assistant on the Cognitive Behavioral Stress Management (CBSM) for breast cancer intervention. In that role, I facilitated stress management groups for women living with breast cancer.

Following my graduate work, I attended the Behavioral Medicine internship in Clinical Psychology at the UNC Chapel Hill School of Medicine before returning to Moffitt Cancer Center for a Fellowship in Behavioral Oncology. My first post-graduate job was at the VA Medical Center in Tampa, where I worked as a Pain Psychologist before becoming the Oncology and Palliative Care Psychologist for the hospital.

Since transitioning from a hospital setting to private practice, much of my work has been devoted not only to helping patients, but also helping their loved ones and providers.

What are your specialties?

Within the area of Health Psychology, my specialtiesinclude helping people improve health behaviors, adjust to changes in their health, cope with grief or loss, and manage stress and anxiety.

Adjusting to Diagnosis of chronic or life-limiting illnesses

The diagnosis of a chronic or life-limiting illness can be a life-altering event. I specialize in helping individuals withmanaging pain and fatigue, adjusting to changes in roles, accepting their new normal, communicating with family and providers, grieving losses of abilities, andcoping with emotions including worry, fear, anxiety,anger, depression, and sadness.

Coping with Grief and Loss

In addition to helping those who are grieving the death of a loved one, I also specialize in helping people cope with their own losses, including the loss of ones abilities (such as being unable to perform as you once did), roles (now relying on others for the things you once took pride in doing yourself), or dreams (such as your inability to travel or have a family).

Improving Health Behaviors

I help people work toward realistic goals for improving sleep, quitting nicotine, and eating and exercising within their physicians recommendations,

Managing Stress and Coping with Anxiety

Learning skills for managing stress and coping with anxiety are other areas of specialization. Techniques include using problem-focused coping for things that are within our control and switching to emotion-focused coping for stressors outside of our control, replacing thoughts that are based on fears with thoughts that are based on facts, learning skills to no longer avoid feared situations, practicing relaxation techniques for calming the body and mindfulness exercises for focusing the mind.

What makes you unique as a therapist?

Much of our worry has to do with what ifs about the future. What makes me unique as a therapist is that I understand the challenges of living with uncertainty and use acceptance-based and mindfulness techniques for teaching skills for coping in the present.

How would you describe your therapeutic approach?

My therapeutic approach is focused on making changes in the present. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Interpersonal Therapy for Depression (IPT-D), Motivational Interviewing (MI), and Mindfulness are evidence-based approaches for living in the present.

Sessions with me often consist of learning techniques for calming the body, redirecting ones thoughts to the present, and overcoming internal barriers to act on the things that are important to you.

What is your favorite quote?

Theres always something you can do to improve your quality of life.

-Dr. Colleen West, Palliative Care Psychologist

What is one thing that is important for anyone to know?

You arent making a choice until you act!

What is your take on a current social issue?

I am a huge proponent of physical activity! Some say that if exercise were in pill form, it would be the worlds most widely prescribed medicine. Yet when people go to the doctor, they often leave without a plan for getting theirbody safely moving.

The health benefits of exercise for physical, emotional, and mental well-being have been well-documented. It can help one lose weight, gain strength, manage stress, cope with depression or anxiety, improve sleep, manage fatigue, and cope with chronic pain. The Conversationrecently had an article on this topic: The exercise pill: How exercise keeps your brain healthy and protects it against depression and anxiety (

Even for those with physical limitations, physicians often recommend some form of exercise such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, kinesiotherapy, or even aquatic therapy. While we agree that exercise is good for us, many do not act. Thats where I can helpI want you to live your best life!

If you are interested in scheduling an appointment with Dr. Phillips, please Contact our office.

205 S. Hoover Blvd. Ste 202
Tampa, FL 33609
(813) 563-1155

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