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The
Community
Psychologist

Volume 51   Number 3 Summer 2018

From the Editors  Dominique_Thomas.jpgSusan_Wolfe.jpg

Susan M. Wolfe, Susan Wolfe and Associates, susan@susanwolfeandassociates.com and Dominique Thomas, Georgia State University, dthomas60@gsu.edu

To start, all we can say is WOW! This is our third issue as editors and we are amazed and overwhelmed with the volume and quality of content we are receiving. It continues to be an honor to be in the position to facilitate information sharing about the amazing work our colleagues are doing.

Special Feature

Early this year there was a string of emails on the listserv that discussed how community psychology (CP) has evolved (or has it?), what differentiates the field from others, and then asks why we are still explaining what CP is. These were interesting questions and interesting viewpoints were shared. To continue the dialogue, we invited someone to edit a special feature on this, and Geraldine Palmer stepped up. She invited several community psychologists to share their perspectives and some accepted while others declined. She was able to put together a collection of contributions representing diverse viewpoints on the topic (although certainly not the complete range of views among SCRA members). Jesica Siham Fernandez calls on CP to be the “political activists, agents of social change, and participant conceptualizers” that the early attendees at the Boston Conference on the Education of Psychologists for Community Mental Health described. Leonard Jason and Jack O’Brien highlight CP’s potential to provide its unique perspective to understand behavior in context in a “theoretically meaningful way.” Geraldine Palmer calls on the field to change its “flat tire” and adapt to issues confronting communities; issues rooted in oppression and inequality. She suggests we intentionally frame who we are and protest all forms of oppression and inequity in ways that are visible. Michèle Schlehofer differentiates between social psychology, sociology and CP and presents a call for more interdisciplinary training. Daniela Miranda suggests we should be sharing CP with other fields and points out CP’s key strengths – that we share our tools and shift the power dynamics that are prevalent in other psychology branches. She also cautions CP’s to be careful with our tools, that we are “transformative and not unknowingly ameliorative.” The special feature ends with commentary by Geraldine Palmer and Bradley Olson. They point out the strengths in the articles and issue a call to action to academics and practitioners to continue to facilitate CP’s evolution.

Relative to this special feature, a paper submitted by SCRA member Tarell C. Kyles discusses Black Power as a generative sociopsychological construct. Through this article it becomes clear that many concepts from different communities and movements often are ignored, even though they align so well with CP values. Given CP’s focus on empowerment and social change, it becomes important to understand how this looks from the perspective of marginalized groups. The very concepts we study and the perspectives we value sends a message of which groups we value and if CP is consistent in its own values. If CP makes the claim of a respect for diversity, what type of transformative field do we really have when most of the canonical theories and frameworks are mostly developed by White (mostly male) CP’s? Additionally, how well can these constructs map onto diverse populations? Do we risk perpetuating the very oppressive structures we seek to dismantle?

Take Action!

Some of our columns prompt community psychologists to take action while providing excellent tools and information to help us to do so. The issue begins with SCRA President Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar’s final column. She continues to inspire us to act by suggesting that we engage in community listening sessions. She shares links to resources to help us with them. Cassandra Bailey, Amanda Venta and The Immigrant Justice group share eight ways for community psychologists to advocate for immigrant justice based on information shared in a 2018 article in the APA Monitor. The information they present should serve as a call for action for SCRA members to find a way to engage in advocacy for any issue, not just immigrant justice. Robin Jenkins makes an excellent case for how community psychologists – with our values and competencies – are well suited to inform policy dialogue, ensure violence prevention is actualized in policies, and inform policies in The Public Policy column.

Learning About SCRA Members and Their Work

This issue also offers us ways to learn more about our colleagues, and the work they are doing. The Criminal Justice Interest Group column shares Jordan Lankford and Christopher Beasley’s work to create and implement CBPAR Advisory Board for Post-Prison Education Research. So many CP’s work with populations experiencing poverty, homelessness, joblessness, and other social problems. If we look more closely, many individuals in these populations likely have some history of involvement with the criminal justice system, including prison sentences. Even after serving their time and working to turn their lives around they undeservedly face challenges with education, employment, and housing. It is encouraging to see SCRA members turning their attention to and seeking solutions to this problem.

In the Council of Education column Dawn Henderson shares the work that was funded by the SCRA Council of Education’s Mini-Grant Initiative and we can see the impact some members are able to make with a small amount of funding. The Rural Issues column shares knowledge gained from J. Dennis Murray and Peter A. Keller’s 40 years of experience serving rural communities. It describes the challenges that are confronted by communities lacking the resources that can be found in more urban areas, and the strengths that help them to continue to overcome them. They also share case examples of successful partnerships and the value their CP training and perspective added to their work.

Learning About Mutual Support for Vulnerable Populations

The Self-Help / Mutual Aid column shares information about a peer support network specifically for those who hear voices. This article highlights the need for the availability of mutual support opportunities for individuals who feel socially separated.

Improving CP Education

Some of the columns offer valuable information about how we can improve CP education. The CP Practice in Undergraduate Settings editors share an article on undergraduate research and mentoring. Two teams, one at SUNY Old Westbury and one from Rhodes College, share their experiences, including challenges and recommendations, with developing undergraduate research and mentoring programs. This article is especially interesting because it was co-written by the students and faculty and presents both perspectives. It will be especially useful for faculty who are grappling with incorporating undergraduate opportunities to participate in research in their programs.

In the Council of Education’s column, Mason Haber, Laura Kohn-Wood, and the Members of the SCRA Council on Education share the findings from the 2016 Survey of Graduate Programs in Community Psychology and what was learned from them. They conclude by expressing hope that these findings, and the first set presented in TCP in 2017 are used to advance CP graduate training quality.

SCRA News

In the Regional Network News column Scot Evans shares what is going on around the country within each region. We can see just how much SCRA members from each of the regions are engaging with the regional psychological associations, presenting and sharing community psychology, and sharing information about new programs that are emerging.

The Student Issues column presents the announcement of the 2018 National Student Representative Research Grant Recipients and the work they plan for their dissertations and masters’ theses. Congratulations to Ana Genkova, Francesca Esposito, Lauren Munro, Zahra Murtaza, Colby Kipp, and Tiyondah Fante-Coleman! 

We are also excited to congratulate Christiane Sadeler, the recipient of the 2018 SCRA Award for Distinguished Contributions to Practice in Community Psychology, and Irma Serrano-Garcia, the recipient of the 2018 SCRA Award for Distinguished Contributions to Theory and Research in Community Psychology. Be sure to read about the amazing contributions both have made to the field.

And, finally, the call is out for proposals for a host for the 2021 SCRA Biennial Conference. We suggest some unlikely organizations consider applying (e.g., undergraduate programs, practice focused organizations, a collaboration of CPs in the same city). While hosting a large conference presents challenges, it also presents opportunities for recognition and visibility for your organization. Most of all, if you are hosting you won’t have to find money to cover the plane ticket, hotel, or conference fees and you get to pick the food. Does it get any better?

If you have comments about this issue, please feel free to contact the editors at tcp@scra27.org