Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Theology

Core Assumptions and Values in Community Psychology: A Christian Reflection

Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Theology

Core Assumptions and Values in Community Psychology: A Christian Reflection

Article excerpt

From the beginning, community psychologists made many of the assumptions behind their theories and methodologies explicit, openly articulating values at the core of their discipline. As a result, community psychology's foundational principles may be readily appraised by any who wish to seriously reflect upon them. This article introduces a set of assumptions and values commonly agreed upon within community psychology: (1) the ecological perspective as a lens for viewing human behavior, (2) adaptation as the means of development and change, (3) wellness as a focus over psychopathology, (4) prevention and pro-motion as priorities over treatment (5) collaborative, empowering helping relationships, (6) justice as a prominent goal of action, (7) research as wedded to action, and (8) human diversity reflected theories and methods. These core values and assumptions are examined from an integrative perspective and illustrated in practice through an example taken from the author's work as a consultant.

Concerned with the connections between individuals and the contexts in which they live, "... community psychologists seek to understand and to enhance quality of life for individuals, communities and society" (Dalton, Elias & Wandersman, 2001, p. 5). Their mission is articulated by their professional organization as "... promoting health and empowerment and preventing problems in communities, groups, and individuals" (www.scra27.org, retrieved on 11/10/10). The emergence of the discipline is traced to a 1965 meeting of clinical psychologists in Swampscott, Massachusetts. Struggling with the limitations of their clinical tools to address pressing social problems, attendees decided to move their focus away from individuals and psychopathology, toward understanding people in context and promoting wellness and positive social change.

From the beginning, community psychologists made many of the assumptions behind their theories and methodologies explicit, openly articulating values at the core of their discipline. As a result, community psychology's foundational principles may be readily appraised by any who wish to seriously reflect upon them. In this article I introduce a set of assumptions and values commonly agreed upon within community psychology and begin to examine them in light of relevant Christian assumptions, values and perspectives. In doing so, I draw upon my own training in the discipline, my experiences practicing and doing research from within this perspective, and fourteen years of teaching community psychology to Christian, clinical psychology students.

CORE ASSUMFHONS AND VALUES

Every system of psychological thought seeks to answer basic questions about human beings: who are we; how do we function; what can go wrong; and how can people change? Answers to these questions are guided by sets of assumptions and values embedded within the particular stream of thought. Assumptions widely held by community psychologists include the following: (1) people are best understood ecologically, as people in context, over time, (2) human behavior and the functioning of human systems are viewed as a series of transactional adaptations to resources and stressors within particular sets of contexts and circumstances; (3) individuals' and communities' strengths, competencies and well-being deserve at least as much emphasis as psy-chopathology has received; (4) prevention of illness and promotion of health can be feasible and cost-effective enterprises, as well as being ethical and moral imperatives; (5) change is best accomplished through collaboration, citizen participation and empowerment among community members, rather than via chiefly hierarchical, "expert"-driven approaches; (6) social change is oriented against injustice and oppression of marginalized individuals and groups toward fostering justice and human flourishing at individual, community and societal levels; (7) the complexity, scope and gravity of impact inherent in social change efforts commits the community psychologist to joining action to rigorous research and accountability; (8) concepts, models and methods of the discipline must reflect the diversity and dignity of all people, especially those who have been traditionally marginalized within society. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.