Chapter 1: Introduction
In colonial times, the US was not w/o social problems; needy individuals were cared for
without special places to house them.
As cities grew and become industrialized people who were mentally ill became more
likely to be institutionalized, these institutes were dank and crowed and treatment ranged
from resistant to cruel punishment.
1700s in France Philip Pinel initiated reforms in mental institutions removing restraints
placed on asylum inmates.
1800s reforms in America are attributed to Dorothea Dix, while teaching in women’s
jails she noticed that the conditions were terrible and many of the women were mentally
Waves of early immigrants were mistakenly diagnosed as mentally incompetent and
placed in overpopulated mental “hospitals”
Late 1800s Sigmund Freud came up with psychoanalysis, his perspective dominated
American psychiatry well into the 20 century.
1946 the National Mental Health Act was passed which allowed US public health
service authority to deal with mental illness and promote mental health
1949 National Institute of Mental Health was established (NIMH) which made it
possible for federal funding for research and training in mental health issues.
1950s brought a change in the treatment of mental illness with the introduction of drugs
that could be used to treat psychosis.
It was suggested with medication patients wouldn’t need the expensive institutionalized
care and could learn to cope with their problems in their home community.
Hospitals would save money by not having to care for psychiatric patients therefore the
focus for dealing with the mentally ill shifted from the hospital to the community.
1952 Hans Eysenck published a study of critical psychotherapy; he found that receiving
no treatment worked as well as receiving treatment. The mere passage of time was just as
effective in helping people deal with problems.
Brown vs. Board of Education, this decision overturned the decision on segregated
schools. Psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Phipps provided psychological research
demonstrating the negative outcomes of segregated schools ▯first time psychological
research was used in supreme court decision.
1960 President Kennedy was elected and proposed mental health services for
communities and secured the passage of Community Mental Health Centers Act of 1963.
These centers provided outpatient, emergency and educational services, recognizing the
need for immediate, local interventions in the form of prevention, crisis services and
Swampscott 1965 a conference in Swampscott, Massachusetts convened to examine how psychology
might best plan for the delivery of psychological services to American Communities.
Conference participants including clinical psychologist agreed to move beyond therapy
to prevention and the inclusion of an ecological perspective in their work.
This conference gave birth to community psychology
What is Community Psychology?
Focuses on the social settings, systems and institutions that influence groups and
organizations & the individuals within them.
Goal is to optimize the wellbeing of communities and individuals with innovative and
alternate interventions designed in collaboration with affected community members and
with other related disciplines inside and outside psychology.
Iscoe (1987) tried to capture the dual nature of community psychology by drawing a
distinction b/w community psychology and community psychologist
▯ ommunity Psychology studied communities and the facts that made them
healthy or at risk
▯Community Psychologist used these facts to intervene for the betterment of the
community and the individuals within it.
Community psychology was born out of the dissatisfaction with the limitations of the
traditional psychotherapy approaches.
The “radical” theory and research based position it took was that individuals were best
understood within the contexts in which they were embedded.
1. A respect for Diversity
• Recognizing and respecting difference in people and their cultural and
ancestral heritage is important to community psychology
• Hays developed a system for noting diversity (ADDRESSING):
o Developmental & acquired Disabilities
o Socioeconomic Status
o Sexual Orientation
o Indigenous heritage
o National origin
• A belief in the diversity of people comes a recognition of the distinctive
lifestyles, worldviews and social arrangements that aren’t apart of
mainstream or established traditional society but characterize our societies
• When we recognize the diversity it prevents the comparison of diverse
populations with mainstream cultural standards and avoids them being
labelled as “deficient or “deviant” • In terms of research, recognition of diversity within populations has been
rising. Before 11% of community psychology journals addressed ethnic
populations now 25%
• Certain marginalized groups continue to be ignored – homosexuals,
disabled and women.
2. The Importance of Context and Environment
• Kurt Lewin 1936 – behaviour is a function of the interaction b/w the
person and the environment.
o To consider the individual alone would provide an incomplete and
weak description of the factors influencing behaviour. Therefore
any study of behaviour must include an understanding of the
personal dispositions & of the situation in which the person finds
his or herself.
• Roger Barker 1965 – behaviour settings: People in a given setting act in
prescribed ways. Violation of these environmentally signalled patterns
resulted in punishment & these patterns persisted over time.
o Ex. If we got into a elevator and faced inward instead of outward,
people would become nervous.
o Overmanning: too many people for a situation. Newcomers are
less likely to be welcomed, because they would add to the
o Undermanning: A lot of work to be done, but not enough people
to do it. Newcomers are welcome, less competition for positions
o Regularities of behaviour are not determined solely by personality
& genetics, behaviour is also a result of environmental signals and
pressures on the individual.
o Different environments bring different behaviour, change the
environment, change the behaviour
• Jason & Zolik – Discriminative stimulus and setting control are contextual
o Context can be construed as the discriminative stimuli within a
setting that as individuals or groups have learned, signal the
display of certain behaviours leading to consequences that are
desirable or undesirable.
o Certain behaviours are reinforced in a given setting, increasing the
probability of those behaviours in those settings
o Certain behavioural tendencies might appear stronger in particular
settings and weaker in others.
• Empowerment is a value, a process and an outcome.
• As a value, its seen as good. Assumes that people and communities have
strengths, and resources and by nature nonpathological
• As a process, a way individuals and communities feel they have some say
in and control over the events, structures and policies that control those
structures in their lives. • Community psychology emphasizes democracy as an outcome of
democracy people can feel empowered.
• Inspiring leadership, power role opportunities, a socially supportive
environment and group belief all contribute to feelings of empowerment.
• Psychological empowerment: individuals gain a sense of mastery
• Social empowerment: individuals rise in status
• Civic empowerment: a gain in rights and privilages
4. Ecological Perspective/Multiple Levels of intervention
• Urie Brofenbrenn