The Community Psychology Section provides a forum to exchange ideas and promote research into community psychology.
Throughout the year we hold regular events and contact members with updates and news.
Reduced registration fees are available to Section member at conferences and special workshops organised by the Section, including an annual conference.
Aims & ObjectivesShow content
Conduct research consistent with community psychology principles
- approach research from a standpoint of methodological pluralism
- employ methodological approaches which give voice to traditionally under-represented populations
- exchange ideas through research publications, workshops, conferences, training sessions and practice
- promote respect of diversity amongst people and settings
Engage with community psychology education and training
- encourage and facilitate the British Psychological Society to communicate the impact of societal factors on psychosocial functioning,
- encourage critical reflection on the privileges held by British Psychological Society psychologists
- facilitate recognition that knowledge and expertise effective in promoting well-being and social justice can be found outside of professional contexts
- promote the study and understanding of community psychology within community organisations, the health service, secondary schools, and further and higher education
Dismantle disabling societal barriers and construct psychologically enabling contexts and practices
- address people’s strengths and competencies as well as problems and difficulties
- challenge the dominance of individually-focused models of psychosocial adjustment and psychological intervention
- promote preventative interventions for health and well-being
- raise awareness of socio-political and organisational issues affecting education, development and well-being
Strive for social justice
- lobby for ideologically progressive policies consistent with community psychology principles
- question established power structures and hierarchies
- research the impact of local, national and international policies on health and well-being
Work in solidarity and mutual respect alongside people experiencing marginalisation, disempowerment and oppression
- encourage lobbying, community networking, advocacy and policy engagement
- facilitate community engagement to address issues affecting health and well-being
- promote the interests of marginalised, disempowered and oppressed people
- work with community organisations towards collaborative understanding of issues of collective importance
Chair's messageShow content
I am very pleased to welcome you to the Community Psychology Section and to opportunities open to you to influence the growth of community psychology in the UK.
Community Psychology is at an interesting stage of development. No-one can now doubt the impact of wider social forces on individual behaviour and experience – we see evidence for this every day on the news. The academic discipline is growing with more doctoral, Masters and undergraduate opportunities to study community psychology than ever before. Many professional courses are including community psychology as part of the training. There is even a growth in jobs for those with a community psychological orientation.
The Community Psychology Section provides the opportunity for all those interested in community psychology, psychologists and non-psychologists, to find like-minded people with whom to exchange ideas and critical discussions, and to promote community psychological research and practice (praxis).
We are a relatively new Section and are building an annual programme of events, including regional meetings, seminars, conference presentations and CPD events. If there is no regional group near you, why not start one? We celebrate the achievements of community psychological work, not only through these events, but also through the annual Community Psychology Festival. So, there are plenty of opportunities for you to become involved in the Section and I do hope you will enjoy participating in some of the activities. If there is nothing to take your fancy, we are always open to new ideas, so please do contact us and see what support we can give to you.
We contact Section members with updates and news throughout the year, and welcome contributions to our newsletter.
I hope to see you at some events and would be delighted to hear from you.
Sally Zlotowitz, Chair of the Section
History of Community Psychology
Origins and early yearsShow content
Community psychology has a rich and diverse international history: it has developed in characteristic ways in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and New Zealand, and North and South America.
Its roots stretch back to the early years of the psychology discipline. One seminal European influence was the study by Marie Jahoda and colleagues, first published in the early 1930s, of the unemployed community of Marienthal in Austria.
Marie Jahoda went on to become the first woman professor at Sussex University and founded a version of social psychology closely related to community psychology. She conducted another pioneering community study in Wales, and also published the landmark 1959 book "Current concepts of positive mental health"
In the 1960s, there was an upsurge of interest in community psychology, partly resulting from the political upheavals of that era.
In the USA, the 1965 "Swampscott Conference" on the Education of Psychologists in Community Mental Health led to the foundation of American Psychological Association’s Division of Community Psychology (now the Society for Community Research and Action), which gave a focus to an influential North American association of community psychologists.
In the UK, community psychology has developed outside of the British Psychological Society (at least until the recent foundation of this section). The UK Community Psychology Network, which was a precursor to this section, has facilitated a series of national community psychology conferences and has an active online discussion forum.
Many UK individuals and groups are doing community psychology research and practice, although not always labelled as such. To single out any particular pieces of work for mention here would be invidious. The chapter by Burton, Boyle, Harris and Kagan (2007) gives a thorough overview of the history and current status of UK community psychology.
Influential British community psychology texts have been published by Mike Bender (1976), Jim Orford (1992, 2008) and Carolyn Kagan, Mark Burton, Paul Duckett, Rebecca Lawthom, and Asiya Siddiquee (2011). Two community-related journals started life in the UK: the Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology (founded in 1991) and Community, Work and Family (founded in 1998).
History of the Community Psychology SectionShow content
The Community Psychology Section held its inaugural meeting on Friday 8 October 2010, at the Society’s offices in London. Pam Maras, Honorary General Secretary, as chair of the proceedings, noted that the launch of this group heralded an exciting time for the Society.
The establishment of the Community Psychology Section was supported by a large number of Society members and is testament to the dedication and tenacity of a particular group including
- Annie Mitchell
- David Fryer
- Jacqui Akhurst
- Janet Bostock
- Jim Orford
The values at the heart of community psychology include those of inclusivity, social justice and improvement of health and well-being. These cut across existing subdisciplines and member networks of the Society and encourage collaboration and partnership between different disciplines.
The Section aims to provide a focus for researchers and practitioners interested in basing their work on these, through non-individual intervention.
The ethos of community psychology has never been more important than now, when it feels as if the world is in an economic maelstrom, and rushed economically based decisions will have far-reaching impacts on the most vulnerable and socially excluded members of society.
The Section, therefore, would like to engage in producing and gathering evidence, communicating the impact on psychosocial functioning of and developing community-based interventions to address such issues as: poverty; inequality; gendered violence; the construction of disability; insecure employment and unemployment; substance misuse and challenges to people’s mental health.
The Community Psychology Section will raise questions about how we might create a society based on greater egalitarianism, non-exploitation and respect for the environment in order to foster solidarity and interdependence.