Personal Relationships: Implications for Clinical and Community Psychology

By Barbara R. Sarason; Steve Duck | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

We all recognize that relationships are important to individuals' well-being. However, their wider role in the health and effective functioning of communities (and the lives of those within them) is only beginning to be explored in a systematic way. This book presents theoretical viewpoints and research findings relevant to these issues and additionally suggests intervention strategies on a variety of levels—from individual to family to community.

The past decade has witnessed not only a burgeoning in the ranks of personal relationship researchers but also a parallel increase in the topics to which personal relationship research contributes. This volume focuses on a variety of topics within the fields of clinical and community psychology that are benefiting from application of a personal relationships perspective. Six of the chapters had originally appeared in the Handbook of Personal Relationships, 2nd edition. Updated, revised versions of these chapters together with four additional chapters, make up this current volume. Each of these new chapters, written especially for this book, is focused on a cuttingedge application of the personal relationships perspective. They address such issues as the impact of genetic testing on family relations, how personal relations play a role in the developmental trajectories of homeless youth, coping with stressors as a communal phenomenon closely involved with relationship issues, and the intermingling of relationship qualities and social support.

As a consequence this book presents not only an updated picture of many applications of the personal relationships approach but also is intended to demonstrate new and valuable venues for this perspective. We as editors hope that these chapters will serve not only as a valuable resource in clinical and community psychology but also as a stimulus for a further widening of the research topics to be investigated from this interdisciplinary approach.

In their chapter Badr, Acitelli, Duck, and Carl point out that consideration of the multifaceted role of relationships in conjunction with social support perceptions or receipt can greatly enhance understanding of both the process of social support and the potency of its effects. Despite the multitude of research articles on social support, these authors point out that we still know very little about social support process—what brings it forth and how it affects health and well-being. They argue that one reason for these deficits in knowledge is that social support is generally considered as a separate and distinct behavior category somewhat isolated from other aspects of mundane behavior. Although social support by definition involves at least two people, until recently social support research has ignored almost all aspects of the participants' relationship and their individual relationship histories. Other generally

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