Pacifica Graduate Institute

Depth Psychology

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Community, Liberation, Indigenous & Eco-Psychologies Specialization 

Degrees Offered: Master's (Terminal), Doctorate

Program Concentrations:

  • critical community studies
  • liberation psychology
  • environmental justice
  • trauma studies
  • restorative justice
  • indigenous psychologies
  • reconciliation & peacebuilding
  • community dreamwork
  • qualitative, visual & indigenous inquiry


At A Glance

Full-time Faculty: 3

Full-time Faculty Identifying as Community Psychologists: 2

# of Students Admitted Each Year: 25

Available Student Assistantships: Coverdell Fellows Program Scholarships for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, Herman Warsh Community-Based Scholarships, Pacifica Yellow Ribbon Scholarships for Veterans, and Pacifica Matching Americorps Scholarship Program

The Program

This degree program specialization is a bold initiative to forge transdisciplinary and transformative approaches to some of the most critical personal, community, cultural, and ecological challenges of our time. Accomplishing this necessitates a radical engagement in re-conceiving psychology as a potentially liberatory and restorative force in society, one engaged in initiatives to promote social, economic, and environmental justice, peacebuilding, and ecological sustainability. The specialization is committed to rebuilding fragmented cultural and ecological connections, and to co-creating democratic, dialogical, joyful, sustainable, equitable and nonviolent living.

This specialization is the only graduate program in the U.S. that focuses on liberation psychology, and the only one that places critical community psychology, indigenous psychologies, and ecopsychology into dynamic conversation with one another. In community and ecopsychological fieldwork, students act as bridges between the knowledge developed by ecological and cultural workers and each area of focus. To study community and ecopsychology in the light of liberation and indigenous psychologies commits us to deeply explore and address the profound effects of injustice, violence, and exploitation on psychological, communal, and ecological well-being. The curriculum places intercultural and decolonial approaches to depth psychological theories and practices in dynamic dialogue with ecopsychology, indigenous psychologies, critical community psychology, and psychologies of liberation from diverse localities around the world.

Praxis classes mentor students in a variety of approaches to working with groups: council/ circle, appreciative inquiry, theater of the oppressed, public conversation, open space technology, asset mapping, community dream work, liberation arts, restorative justice, somatic approaches to trauma healing, conflict transformation, and imaginal and ritual approaches to community health and healing.

Students in the Community, Liberation, Indigenous and Eco-Psychologies Specialization:

  • Deepen insight about individual, group, and cultural life through the study of depth psychology
  • Develop scholarly and creative writing skills
  • Learn innovative and historical approaches to trauma healing, restorative justice, ecological sustainability, community building, economic justice, forced migration, alternatives to violence, peacebuilding, and reconciliation
  • Gain an understanding of the interdependence of individual, community, cultural, and ecological well-being
  • Gather the theoretical insight and practical skills to conduct participatory action research, policy interventions, community program evaluation, and grant-writing to contribute to community-based resource mobilization
  • Practice participatory action research and program and organizational evaluation, while deepening ethical discernment on issues of power and privilege 
  • Train in a wide variety of group approaches to cultural and ecological work 
  • Heighten sensitivity to the imaginal, the metaphorical, and the mythical 
  • Develop the capacity to teach in academic and community learning environments 
  • Apply learning to leadership positions in a wide variety of professions: health services (including hospice); youth, secondary, adult, and alternative education; organizational development and transformation; prison reform and restorative justice initiatives; governmental and nongovernmental organizations; social and environmental justice, community building and policy development; advocacy and grassroots coalitions; arts-activism; trauma healing; peace-building and community dialogue; planning and evaluation; land preservation; ecological sustainability; local food initiatives; philanthropy; micro-lending and economic alternatives
Pacifica Graduate Institute program photo

Program Alumni Information

The program focuses on training researchers and practitioners. Graduates from the program are typically employed in government, education, healthcare, consulting, the nonprofit or business sector and/or for community-based organizations such as cooperatives and intentional communities. 

One of our students won a SCRA Dissertation Award!

Student and Alumni Testimonies:

Pacifica was a place where I was given the space to explore questions I had carried for a long time. The staff, students, and faculty at Pacifica work together to engender a thoughtful journey that emboldens the imagination and calls forth insights and actions I could not have reached on my own.
Elizabeth Deligio, M.A. Depth Psychology Program, Justice Coordinator, 8th Day Center for Justice

I stepped into the journey of the CLIE program at Pacifica numbed by a society that sent constant messages that I was not enough. After doing the soul-work during my tenure, I walked away awakened with renewed passion to re-engage my path for racial and economic justice. I understand the phenomenon of homelessness in a new way and bring my depth knowledge into each and every self-curated conversation and action. I am grateful!
- Alisa Orduna, M.A. Depth Psychology Program, Homelessness Policy Director for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti


Coursework nurtures creative approaches to collaboration in organizations, non-profits, community groups, and educational settings. Through community and ecological fieldwork and research, students are supported in the pursuit of their distinctive areas of interest, and in strengthening their research and practice skills. Students are able to make their own significant contributions to the attainment of a just and sustainable world, in which—as Paulo Freire said— “it is easier to love.”

Classes for the Community Psychology, Liberation Psychology, Indigenous, and Eco-psychologies specialization take place in nine three-day sessions (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday), approximately once each month during fall, winter, and spring (October to July). In the first and second summers, students complete fieldwork and research in their home communities or other off-campus sites. In the third summer and subsequent years, students are involved in writing their dissertations in their home communities. 

Program Brochure

Community Psychology Faculty and Research Interests

  • prison abolition; 
  • reconciliation; 
  • immigration; 
  • peace-building; 
  • accompaniment; 
  • depth psychology; 
  • structural violence; 
  • community well-being; 
  • participatory evaluation; 
  • decoloniality; 
  • Indigenous knowledge systems; 
  • community-based participatory action research with youth; 
  • epistemic and ecological justice; 
  • policy development