Community Psychology Diversity and Social Action Research Essay

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An Ecological Approach

Community psychology uses an ecological or systems approach, recognizing that individuals are inseparable from their social networks and communities. According to Dalton, Elias & Wandersman (2012), community psychology also works with seven core values. Those values include individual and family wellness, a sense of community, respect for human diversity, social justice, empowerment and citizen participation, collaboration and community struggle, and empirical grounding. Thus, community psychology can be viewed as an interface between traditional individualistic psychology, sociology, and social work. Community psychology has been called a “common sense” approach given its broad focus on the ecological connections between individuals and their environments (Scileppi, Teed & Toerres, 1999, p. 1). Rather than focus only on individual variables, community psychologists take into account multiple dimensions and contextual constraints and influences on human behavior, identity, and relationships.

Using a systems or ecological approach also transforms the nature of the social scientist’s work in community psychology. The community psychologist does not just work with individual clients, although that is certainly possible. A community psychologist forges strategic alliances with other members of the individuals community, including formal and informal social structures and organizations (Society for Community Research and Action, 2018). The community psychologist aims not just to transform individual lives but also to improve the overall health and wellness in the community, promote public health and safety, and change social norms and values to promote social justice and human rights.

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Community psychology is also based on evidence and empiricism. Yet research is purposeful and action-driven, and may involve tangible results in terms of public policy outcomes, building community resilience, or changing practices in the workplace or educational environments.

Understanding and Embracing Diversity

As a central value in community psychology, diversity is the cornerstone of healthy communities and the cultivation of strong personal identities. However, respect for diversity does not imply moral relativism but does recognize the need to embrace universal human rights and ethical principles (Dalton, Elias & Wandersman, 2012). By extension, a community psychologist keeps in mind the goal of social justice when working with individuals and organizations in the community. Individual experiences with discrimination are situated within the broader social context, using the ecological approach of community psychology. Likewise, discrimination is contextualized, viewed not as the skewed beliefs and behaviors of single individuals but as systemic issues rooted in outmoded or dysfuncational belief systems. A community psychologist can work to prevent or mitigate problems related to discrimination in a community experiencing demographic shifts,….....

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Dalton, J.H., Elias, M.J., Wandersman, A. (2012). Community psychology: linking individuals and communities. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage.

Scileppi, J.A., Teed, E.L. & Torres, R.D. (1999). Community psychology: a common sense approach to mental health. Pearson.

Society for Community Research and Action (2018). What is community psychology?

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