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Community Psychology in the United States: History & Future

Community Psychology in the United States: History & Future

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Community Psychology in the United States: History & Future

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  1. Community Psychology in the United States: History & Future Prof. Douglas D. Perkins Community Research & Action Peabody College, Vanderbilt University Director, Center for Community Studies

  2. INTRODUCTIONS EXERCISE: • 1. Introduce yourself • 2. Where have you lived? • 3. What do you feel is your "community?" How would you define it? (this is individually and subjectively defined; there are no right or wrong answers) • 4. What is your community's most pressing problem? (What are the problem's psychological or behavioral components?) • 5. What are your community’s strengths or assets?

  3. Definitions of Community Psychology: • “the psychological study & solution of community, social & mental health problems” OR • “the applied study of the relationship between social systems & individual well‑being in the community context”

  4. Tenets or Themes of Community Psychology: • CP is both an applied social science & vocation AND • an analytical perspective. [applicable to any field, career, or life in general]

  5. Tenets or Themes of Community Psychology cont’d: • Also extremely central to CP: an ‘action’ orientation, i.e. social innovation, change, & evaluation. • "real world" utility of applied research (e.g., program or policy evaluations) in community and organizational settings, not "ivory tower" laboratory • “praxis”: the process of translating an intellectual idea, theory, or lesson into the lived reality of practice, action, and experience.

  6. More Themes of Community Psychology: • CP acknowledges our humanity & thus our values: Positivism is dishonest in pretending to be value-free. • CP challenges traditional modes of thought and authority: healthy skepticism of established “truths”, the powerful, & “experts”.

  7. Community Psychology helps you see the world ecologically (as an interconnected system): • CP person-environment fit: change the setting to fit the person • multiple levels of analysis & intervention • dynamic, naturalistic process Complexity must match reality: units interact within and across levels:

  8. The meaning of ecology and related concepts • Bio-ecology, social ecology, human ecology: study of organisms and groups in context of multi-level interdependent systems and their evolution over time • Oikos (Greek) = house • Habitat: the place or type of site where a plant or animal naturally or normally lives and grows (Webster’s) • Ecosystem: the complex of a community and its environment functioning as an ecological unit in nature • Kurt Lewin: "action research," B=f(P,E) • Other ecological concepts: • behavior is nested in a series of concentric contexts • a phenomenological (subjectively perceived) orientation • person-environment "fit" • reciprocal action between person & environment (coping mechanisms)

  9. Bronfenbrenner (1996) • Ontogenetic: individual level of development • Microsystem: immediate social environment (family, classroom, peer group); • Mesosystem: relational links between microsystems (eg, work influence on personal life)

  10. Kelly's 4 ecological principles for planning community interventions:

  11. Levine’s (1969) 5 Ecological principles of practice in community psychology: • A problem arises in a setting or in a situation; factors in the situation cause, trigger, exacerbate and/or maintain the problem. • A problem arises because the problem‑resolving (i.e., adaptive) capacity of the social setting is blocked. • To be effective, help has to be located strategically to the manifestation of the problem. • The goals and values of the helping agent or service must be consistent with the goals and values of the setting. • The form of help should have potential for being established on a systematic basis, using the natural resources of the setting, or through introducing resources which can become institutionalized as part of the setting.

  12. Ecological Research Methods Example (Perkins & Taylor, 1996, AJCP): • Multiple Measures (sources of data) to cross-validate/triangulate: • Block Environmental Inventory • Resident (or Organization Member or Leader) Survey • Qualitative Methods (Open-ended interviews, Content Analysis) • Archival data (e.g., organizational records, police crime reports) • Census and Other Large Sample Surveys • Focused on Context at Multiple Levels: • Individual • Individual Relative to Group • Aggregate + truly contextual units (Organization, Community) • Multilevel Analysis (eg, HLM, Contextual Analysis, GIS) • Over Time: • Longitudinal designs, time series

  13. More Themes of Community Psychology: • 2nd-order change: fundamental change in the system’s structure, goals, or values. • CP appreciates cultural diversity& individual rights, freedom, justice, & dignity.

  14. 4 Key Community Psychology Concepts: “SPEC”: Strengths, Prevention, Empowerment, Changing Community Conditions Strengths • individual & community strengths & competencies, not weaknesses, handicaps, pathology (medical model)

  15. 4 Key Community Psychology Concepts: “SPEC”: Strengths, Prevention, Empowerment, Changing Community Conditions Prevention • CP intervenes earlier in the problem development process to be both more effective & more efficient: • crisis intervention -> early detection & intervention -> primary prevention

  16. 4 Key Community Psychology Concepts: “SPEC”: Strengths, Prevention, Empowerment, Changing Community Conditions Empowerment • “voice & choice” • people participating in and taking control over the institutions that affect their lives; professionals & scientists as partners or collaborators, not experts.

  17. 4 Key Community Psychology Concepts: “SPEC”: Strengths, Prevention, Empowerment, Changing Community Conditions Changing Community Conditions • CP gets at root causes of problems by addressing the underlying community conditions • Dohrenwend applied these ideas in a comprehensive stress & intervention model (see Levine et al. Chapter 3)

  18. Exercise/Discussion:Split into 4 groups Each group take a different SPEC concept [Strengths, Prevention, Empowerment, Changing Community Conditions] and brainstorm real or hypothetical examples of intervention strategies, programs, or policies that apply your concept. How is it/could it be implemented? What public &/or private sector partners [organizations, institutions, community groups] should be involved? How?

  19. THE ORIGINS OF COMMUNITY PSYCHOLOGY IN THE UNITED STATES The Limitations of Clinical, Behavioral, Social, & Testing Psychology

  20. Historical Influences on the Development of Community Psychology in the U.S.

  21. Community Psych as a Paradigm Shift • "paradigm": theoretical or methodological model, or a conventionally accepted way of looking at, understanding, or doing things (Kuhn) • "paradigm shifts" caused by faith, values, & politics, esp. in social sciences & human services

  22. Each group discuss what you know (or think you know) about one of the following branches of psychology: • clinical psychology/mental health care (study & treatment of social, behavioral, & emotional dysfunction) • behaviorism/classical & operant learning (study & application of control of animal & human behavior through extrinsic reinforcers—rewards & punishment) • social psychology (study of interpersonal & group perceptions, behavioral interactions, and attitudes) • psychometrics/testing psychology (measurement of human intelligence, aptitudes, personality, performance) • Examples of historical & current research topics and practices? • What does it have to offer a psychology dedicated to solving the problems & promoting the strengths of people in communities? • What are its problems & limitations both in general and in its implications for/applications to community psychology?

  23. Problems with behavior theory and research for Community Psychology • Operant psychology: - based on lab study of single, nonhuman organisms • fails to address power relationships, operation of social institutions • power to control both positive & negative reinforcers open to abuse • behaviorism fails to allow for individual & cultural diversity, • community, institutional, or societal behaviorism: world of conformity & docility, technology without values (Orwell's 1984 rather than Skinner's Walden II)

  24. Problems with behavior theory and research for Community Psychology #2 • behaviorists have not shown how human or animal behavior occurs naturally (anthropology, ethology), only how it can be manipulated in a laboratory, workplace, or similarly controlled institutional setting • behaviorism unable to account for creativity & culturally‑specific behavior (ignores activities that are intrinsically reinforcing in favor of extrinsic reinforcers, such as money or tokens) • ignores structural & institutional constraints, & so may be used to justify or maintain the status quo of social inequality

  25. The History & Ideology of Social Psychology • cyclical history of social psychology: more applied during climates of social upheaval & reform. In between & for the last 20 years, social psychology has focused on laboratory studies of intra-psychic (cognitive) factors in the social behavior of individuals & small groups. • Conclusion: social psychology has become less & less "social" with regard to: 1. the over‑reliance upon laboratory research methods, 2. the exclusive focus on the individual (or dyadic) level of analysis, 3. the social irrelevance of the matters studied Why community psychologists have been so concerned with: • recognizing & embracing their own values, & • concentrating on field research of relevant extra-individual behavior in the social environment from an ecological systems perspective

  26. Limitations of psychometrics (testing psychology) from a community perspective: Social Darwinism, eugenics • Sir Francis Galton, Darwin’s cousin: no coincidence that father of testing also a eugenicist • American psychologists used Alfred Binet's IQ test to: • label children & limit educational opportunities to them, • to isolate people in institutions & • to limit immigration of ‘undesirables’ Some of the most distinguished American psychologists were behind such ventures. For example, Henry Goddard used 'mental tests' to examine large numbers of immigrants & concluded that 83% of Jews, 80% of Hungarians, 79% of Italians, & 87% of Poles & Russians were "feeble minded."

  27. Limitations of psychometrics #2 • Lewis Terman, in his famous book The Measurement of Intelligence (1916), suggested that children of genetically "inferior races...should be segregated in special classes... They cannot master abstractions, but they can often be made efficient workers... There is no possibility at present of convincing society that they should not be allowed to reproduce, although from a eugenic point of view they constitute a grave problem because of their unusually prolific breeding” (quoted in Ryan, 1976, p.306). • Similarly, the renowned experimental psychologists Robert M. Yerkes & Carl Brigham used the results of the U.S. Army's WWI testing of recruits to argue that Blacks & Southern Europeans are intellectually inferior to those of Nordic descent. (It is worth noting that, not coincidentally, it was the same Carl Brigham who later developed the Scholastic Aptitude Test & served on the College Entrance Examination Board.)

  28. Limitations of psychometrics #3 • We now know that tests of mental ability were culturally & linguistically biased (Q: Are they still?) & that, in any case, they do not measure purely innate intelligence. In the 1920s & 30s, however, the conclusions of testing psychologists were used to keep out "undesirable" immigrants, hundreds of thousands of whom would suffer & die because of the holocaust, which was simply Nazi‑style eugenics.

  29. Conclusions re testing: • For community psychologists, there are four important points to note in the preceding history of psychometrics: • psychology based on the study of individual differences is often misused when drawing conclusions about groups • fairness to individuals & disadvantaged groups should come before institutional/scientific interests • scientists must remain alert to the easy misinterpretation & misapplication of their data • experimental & professional psychologists have never been isolated from social & political influence, & so should not hide behind a false mantle of scientific or professional authority

  30. The "Progressive" View of The History of Mental Health Care • 4 Revolutions in MH Care --> (population encompassed) • Pinel, Dix & "Moral Treatment" (1800) -------> (psychotics) • Freud & insanity continuum (1900) ---------> (neurotics) • Community MH Centers (1963) --> (victims of social pathology) • Milestone Primary Prevention (1970s, 1980s) ----> (everyone)

  31. PROGRESSIVE THEMES in history of psychopathology & MH care: • locus of causality: internal (intra-psychic) external (environment) • causal determinism: religious/moral genetic (Social Darwinism)cultural (Lewis)social construction of pathology (Szasz)

  32. PROGRESSIVE THEMES in history of psychopathology & MH care #2 • treatment approach: burning->imprisonment-> therapy->prevention • treatment orientation: deficit(deviant, weakness)/labels-> competency, strengths • corresponding ideology: discriminatory-> humanistic/civil rights/ equality

  33. PROGRESSIVE THEMES in history of psychopathology & MH care #3 • prevention stage: • tertiary->secondary->primary • intervention age: adult->teen->early childhood->pre/peri‑natal • level of analysis/intervention: • individual->groups, families->organizations-> institutions, communities

  34. The "Revisionist" View of the History of Mental Health Care • "progressive" view encourages the temporal bias of "presentism” • Revisionist history shows inconsistent progress & a more cyclical pattern of reform & concern over environmental causes (e.g., during settlement house movement) alternate with periods of conservative retrenchment & intra-psychic or moralistic determinism (Levine & Levine, 1970), i.e., approach to solving social & mental health problems related to political climate of the times

  35. The "Revisionist" View of the History of Mental Health Care #2 • poor & "deviant" removed from society for whose "protection"? (Erikson, 1966: Wayward Puritans) • poor more likely to receive "physical" treatments & neglect (Grobb, 1973; Hollingshead & Redlich, 1958) • other cyclical patterns: periods of genetic, intra-psychic &/or cultural determinism & tendency to "oversell" new treatments & policies as panaceas (or cure‑all "fads")

  36. An Important Example of a Revisionist Cycle and Unintended Consequences:Deinstitutionalization • reduction of hospitalized psychiatric population (& other kinds of institutions, e.g., mentally retarded, prisons & reform schools) through release of long-term, "warehoused" patients into the community, shorter stays for all admissions & fewer admissions • placement in alternative community settings (e.g., "half-way houses," supported employment, outpatient services, crisis intervention) is more feasible, may be more effective & certainly more efficient than hospitalization

  37. Causes of deinstitutionalization • change in involuntary commitment laws (effective treatment, "danger to self or others") • psychotropic medications • CMH Centers Act (1963)

  38. Effects of deinstitutionalization • more humane & effective treatment • greater quality & use of their lives BUT, also… • increased homelessness (1/3 mentally ill, 1/3 alcohol & drug abusers, 1/3 un/under-employed) • inadequate "aftercare” • "revolving door" phenomenon

  39. Conclusions about the history of Mental Health Care • social change made old approaches to mental health care inadequate • ideology determined treatment laws • economic & political concerns killed humane efforts & led to "warehousing" • legal, economic, & political factors continue to shape the changes in mental health care • From both historical perspectives (Progressive & Revisionist), the history of mental health care points to need for prevention & more humane treatment & "empowerment" of the broadest variety of disadvantaged populations.

  40. Foreword to Principles of Community Psychology by Seymour Sarason “Prior to this edition, this book was unrivaled for its scope and depth of the obvious and not-so-obvious psychological implications of what American communities are: what problems they face, how they do and do not change. What this new edition makes abundantly clear is that what we call a community is glaringly porous: in the modern, highly technical, mobile world, a community is affected by events near and far from its borders, events that are psychological, sociological, economic, political, and legal…”

  41. The Future of Community Psychology International Community Psychology Interdisciplinary Community Psychology, but using what paradigm? Same 2 CP options of the past 4 decades but applying international and interdisciplinary work more systematically: Psychosocial stress process (prevention) model (Dohrenwend, 1978). Comprehensive, interdisciplinary model for ecologically & “psycho-politically” valid action-research (Prilleltensky; Christens & Perkins, in press) (“empowerment-plus”) Which paradigm should CP choose? If neither, what should be the paradigm for CP in the future? Does CP need a paradigm?

  42. Community & Organizational Development Psycho- Pathology Political Action Situation In Environment Stressful Life Event Psychological Growth Situational Mediators, Material Supports or Handicaps, Social Supports or Handicaps Transient Stress Reaction No Substantial Permanent Psychological Change Psychological Mediators, Aspirations and Values, Coping Abilities/Disabilities Psychological Characteristics of Person in Event Individual Skill Training General Education & Socialization Corrective Therapies Crisis Intervention Figure: A model of the process whereby psychosocial stress induces psychopathology and some conceptions of how to counteract this process (from Dohrenwend, 1978).

  43. Discussion Question: • Where do poverty, unemployment, and related social problems fit into Dohrenwend’s model? How can psychology in general and CP in particular address such problems?

  44. Discuss in pairs [you don’t have to share this with class]: • Describe a major or minor stressful life event you have experienced [anything you don’t mind discussing]. • What were the personal factors [personality, resilience, skills, knowledge, habits, needs, etc.] that led to the event or helped or hindered your stress response? • What were the environmental factors [social/people, physical, cultural, political, economic…] that caused the stress &/or added to it? • What was the outcome of the event and its negative &/or positive impact on you? Opportunities for Intervention Based on Above & Dohrenwend: • Did you receive any “crisis intervention” of any kind? Did/would it help? • How could you have coped with, or adapted to, the stress psychologically or behaviorally? • What kinds of social or material supports might have helped you cope with the stress situation? Were they available to you? • Do you have any personal psychological characteristics that increased the likelihood of the stressful event? What kind of intervention could address those characteristics to prevent the event? • What situation in the environment increased the risk of the stressful event? How could that have been dealt with or prevented?

  45. Comprehensive Ecological Model for Analyzing power Dynamics across 4 Domains of Capital & 3 Levels Macro/ Collective/ Structural/ Community political & economic structures in society that threaten social wellness; both oppressed populations & reactive actions of policy makers & stakeholders. collective social action, community organizing & networks; movements, techniques, community processes & societal policies that lead to attainment of popular goals macro-level social variables that affect human wellness. Scrutinizes social policies for optimal promotion of community wellness Meso/ Organizational Group/ Relational organizations that violate standards of social justice for workers & communities; group inequities in social wellness both change in organizations creating social problems & organizational learning, decision-making, & development in groups & institutions addressing social oppression & justice Identifies/promotes participatory organizational opportunities & methods of reducing social threats & enhancing social wellness Micro/IndividualPersonal/ Psychological (emotional, cognitive, behavioral, spiritual): relationship between setting-level social conditions & individual powerlessness, helplessness, internalized oppression, guilt, & physical & mental problems Individual human capital (skills, knowledge), behaviors, & beliefs that affect immediate conditions; social & political consciousness, activism, leadership, & self-efficacy relationship between social variables & personal wellness; dynamics promoting self-determination, pride, empowerment, health, personal growth, meaning & spirituality Consequence or stage of empowerment/wellness: Oppression Liberation/Empowerment Wellness (state) (process) (outcome) Domain of Political: [POLITICAL CAPITAL] Environment/Capital: Economic: [FINANCIAL CAPITAL] Physical: [PHYSICAL CAPITAL] Level of Analysis/ Intervention: Socio-cultural: [SOCIAL CAPITAL]

  46. Think about your research &/or intervention interests or a project you have worked on & consider the following Questions related to oppression: The following questions need to be repeated for the 3 levels of analysis and can be applied to any one of the 4 environmental domains. Your research may lend itself to one or more of the environmental domains, in which case you would ask these questions to all applicable domains.   • What are the power relations present at the macro, meso, and micro levels of analysis? Who are the players in the relationship? There may be multiple relationships at play. Some players may be oppressors in one setting and oppressed in others. • What exchanges take place over time among the various players at the various levels? How do people in various power positions interact with each other. What are the dynamics operating here? How do people in various power positions engage with each other? What techniques do people use to oppress others or to resist oppression? • What are the consequences of these power relations at the various levels of analysis? What are the effects of power relations at the different levels for the multiple players involved? What are the repercussions of oppression for the various individuals or groups?

  47. Questions related to liberation/empowerment: • We are conceptualizing liberation and empowerment as a process. This process may be naturally occurring in the environment, without external intervention, or it may be the result of a planned intervention. •  1. What strategies are being implemented at each level of analysis to change the oppressive power relations? • What are the formal and informal strategies people use to resist oppression and pursue liberation? These may be naturally occurring processes or generated by a planned intervention. If you are studying a social phenomenon, there may be resistance processes taking place in the environment already. • 2. What inhibiting and facilitative factors influence the strategies and change processes discussed in question 1 above? •  Here we would like to know what factors help or hinder strategies to empower and liberate individuals and groups. What kinds of conditions enable people and groups to resist? What circumstances block the development of consciousness and empowerment actions? • 3. What tactics are used to strengthen the facilitative factors and to reduce the inhibiting factors? •  Once you have identified inhibiting and facilitative factors, we would like to know what tactics individuals and groups use to address them. How do they overcome barriers? How do they reinforce positive directions toward liberation?

  48. Questions related to wellness • We are conceptualizing wellness as an outcome. • What was the idealoutcome of your overall strategies in terms of power relations? As a researcher, what do you consider the ideal outcomes of empowering and liberation processes? • What was the expectedimmediate outcome of your tactics in terms of power relations? Whereas #1 refers to the best ideal scenario, #2 refers to your more realistic expectations of what can be achieved under the existing circumstances. •  What were the obtained or actual outcomes of your tactics in terms of power relations? Looking at natural and/or planned change processes, what were the actual outcomes for the people involved? Did they last? If so, for how long did the effects last? Was there an improvement in terms of wellness because of power equalization across people, groups, communities, nations? • How do you explain the outcomes? How do you explain potential gaps between actual and ideal or expected outcomes. What is your theory for explaining how wellness is or is not achieved at the various levels of analysis? Is it possible that wellness is easier to achieve at the lower levels of analysis than at higher levels? How does power equalization affect wellness at various levels of analysis?

  49. Final Questions: • Can Community Psychology survive in the future within departments and organizations of psychology? • Should it become a more truly interdisciplinary field (“community research & action”)? • What are the possible costs and benefits of #1 and #2?

  50. Where to find full text explanation & argument for the last model: • • Prilleltensky, I. (in press). The role of power in wellness, oppression, and liberation: the promise of psychopolitical validity. Journal of Community Psychology. • Christens, B., & Perkins, D.D. (in press). Transdisciplinary, multilevel action research to enhance ecological and psycho-political validity. Journal of Community Psychology. • Center for Community Studies • Monterey Declaration of Critical Community Psychology: