Bringing Society To Psychology
I'm a Clinical Psychologist by training. A Community Psychologist by belief and by a fair portion of my practice.
The principles of Clinical Psychology are 'scientist-practitioner' and 'reflective-practitioner' - I believe it's about time we added 'activist-practitioner'.
Clinical Psychologists need to try and address societal issues that affect the overall mental health of the population like inequality and oppression.
Activism, through campaigning, lobbying, awareness raising, collective action, is possible at a local and national level.
As professionals with power and resources (that Dr. title helps a lot) I believe it is our duty to support actions that promote the well-being and good mental health of the population at a wider level than therapy with the individual. This should be part of our role.
Activist-practitioners get involved!
Lovely to see your post! Here in Australia the torture trauma services (working with people from refugee backgrounds) counselling roles are called 'counsellor advocate' and work to address some of the societal issues you mention above. I believe that a clinical psychologist called Ida Kaplan was the one who initiated the role, and developed a model called the 'recovery model' to go with it. There are approximately eight torture and trauma services across the country, all of whom employ counsellor advocates and have done so for at least ten years.
If you are interested in more information I can try and put you in touch with Ida and send you what I have on the recovery model. From my past experience working in torture trauma services practitioners (psychologists and social workers) all have the capacity to be counsellor advocates, but sometimes they need extra training and support to understand why their role should include broader advocacy when they have been trained to work solely with the individual.
I would love to hear more about the 'counsellor advocate' role and the model it is based upon within the context of the torture trauma services. I am currently working with refugee families and it would be helpful to hear about how the principles of community psychology are applied to your work in Australia. Any information would be helpful.
And Sally I think the idea of being 'activist-practitioners' is a great way of explicitly adding community psychology values to the clinical psychology profession.