The History of Community Psychology

history community psychologyThe history of community psychology can be tracked down to the post world war II time. It is in that period that tremendous change started taking place. Many people who came back from the war had severe mental health issues which were the reason behind finding a discipline which could answer the need for community members at that era. Community psychology is a field which is transformative because it is changing to adapt to issues that are evolving in communities. This article will look at how individuals relate to society being the concern of community psychology.

Psychology came as a result of issues that individuals and the community as a whole were facing. As the quote from Einstein indicates, the issue or problem definition is not an incidental one. How we define a problem shapes the questions we ask, the methods we use to answer these matters, and the way we interpret those answers.

How we define a problem has such far –reaching effects that social scientists have declared problem definition to be an ethical issue. Assumptions that we make about a problem determine how we define the problem, which in turn determines the ways we approach and try to solve it. This may be true when we are not consciously aware of the assumptions we are making. Our background precisely; Personal experiences, cultural background, education, and biases (and sometimes the biases that came with our knowledge) help shape those assumptions, which may prevent effective responses to the problem. Our assumptions can thus become the real issue. If we ignore how issues are framed, the viewpoint from which we derive our definitions, we will be imprisoned by those frames.

Community psychologists think outside the traditional boxes of psychology to define problems and generate interventions at many levels. There are individual problems or interventions. Everything that humans do takes place in social contexts: in culture, a locality, a setting (such as a workplace, school, playground, or home), and in a set of personal relationships. For example, a child matures within many social contexts. When a client arrives for a psychotherapy session, he or she brings a particular set of life experiences (in social settings), as does the therapist. They form a relationship that is rooted not only in who they are as persons but also in cultural, gender, social, economic (e.g. who pays for treatment, and how does that affect it?), and other context.

The relationship of an individual to the society in community psychology context is triggered by factors that make up the personality of that individual. This means that anything a person does is explained by whatever triggered the action.