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Care Team Spotlight: Jason Samlin, PsyD - Health Psychologist

Date Posted: Friday, January 28, 2022

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Living with diabetes can become overwhelming. It can cause stress, anxiety, and/or depression, all of which can get in the way of diabetes management.  The UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence is one of the few diabetes centers in the United States that has a health psychologist on the care team.

Jason Samlin , PsyD, points out that both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes have their share of challenges. “Diabetes requires a lot of behavioral management because it can be influenced by various factors that complicate an already frustrating disease,” he said.  “When a person is initially diagnosed with diabetes, they have so much new information coming at them. There’s only so much information people can process at one time.”

Diabetes burnout is very common because managing and thinking about blood sugars 24 hours a day, 7 days a week feels unending and gets exhausting.

“I don’t use the term diabetic because it identifies a person with their illness and makes people feels like their diabetes defines them,” said Dr. Samlin.  “Instead, I prefer to focus on the symptoms and help them treat their blood sugars.  I prefer to say a person is a person living with diabetes.”

He helps people to make minor changes that can result in substantial improvements. “Most people who come to see me have been trying as hard as they possibly can to manage their blood sugars and are frustrated because they’ve been unable to accomplish everything that they’ve been told they should be doing by their care team,” said Dr. Samlin.  “My most gratifying moments come when I help people to realize they don’t have to do everything at once. I listen to what their obstacles are, and we begin by incorporating small manageable changes.”

Dr. Samlin reminds us that there’s no finish line to learning how to best manage diabetes because new circumstances constantly arise.  As people go through life, new challenges present themselves. Going away to college, having a baby, getting new job and dealing with loss are just a few examples of changes people must deal with that can disrupt their diabetes management.

Common misconceptions about health psychologists

“People often assume they’re being referred to a health psychologist because there’s something wrong with them,” said Dr. Samlin.  “In fact, the difficulties they’re facing are usually affected by stress or other outside factors.” 

Most patients feel like they’re alone in feeling a certain way, however, there are many common issues that people living with diabetes face.  Many people experience diabetes burnout, stress and anxiety and/or struggle to incorporate necessary diabetes management into their busy lives. Other common obstacles include needle phobia, fear of low blood sugar, not checking blood sugars often enough, poor eating habits and lack of exercise. A health psychologist knows how to help by incorporating proven strategies and solutions.

Health psychology to improve diabetes management

During the first meeting, Dr. Samlin learns about the person to get an understanding of where they’re at.  Once the obstacles have been determined, they discuss with a realistic goal and put a plan in place to achieve that goal.

The process is different for everyone. “People’s behavior is influenced and affected by little things such as thoughts that arise at that moment, emotions that are felt which urges them to either do something or not do it,” said Dr. Samlin.  “That’s such important information to have because it let’s me know what we’re working with and what needs to be done to correct it. 

About Dr. Samlin

Dr. Samlin was born and raised in Philadelphia and attended Syracuse University where he majored in psychology.  In 2015 he earned his master’s degree and Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degree at Rutgers University Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology.  He first moved to New England for his pre-doctoral internship in psychology at UMass Amherst.  He then worked at Chase Brexton Health Services in Baltimore for his post-doctoral fellowship in behavioral medicine.

  • Enjoys rock climbing, hiking and spending time in Maine
  • Appreciates the many historical locations in Massachusetts
  • Has a four-year old terrier/boxer mix named Moxie
  • Favorite team is Liverpool (soccer) in the English Premiere League
  • Listens to bluegrass music and podcasts, primarily True Crime and Fiction

Schedule an appointment

To schedule a health psychology consultation, call the UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence adult clinic at (508) 334-3206 or ask your care team for a referral.

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