Saturday, February 19, 2011

Community Practitioner Spotlight: Shawn Bediako

“I am proud to be both a community psychologist and an applied social/health psychologist.  I love the work I do and respect the colleagues and populations with whom I work. I hope that others can find the same type of fulfillment, zeal, and enthusiasm in their chosen career paths.”

Name: Shawn M. Bediako, Ph.D.
Titles: Assistant Professor of Psychology
Employer: University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Affiliations: Association of Black Psychologists, American Psychological Association, Society of Behavioral Medicine, Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, Society for the Analysis of African American Public Health Issues, American Public Health Association and Emerging Scholars Interdisciplinary Network

“Utilizing Education, Research and Practice to Inspire Change”
Dr. Shawn Bediako is a community psychologist practitioner who is engaged in both community psychology practice and education.
Dr. Bediako is an assistant professor in the Human Services Psychology program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He teaches community and applied social psychology and behavioral medicine and supervises students interested in these areas. His research focuses on adults’ psychosocial adjustment to sickle cell disease. More specifically, he examines how social perceptions about individuals with sickle cell disease are formed by laypeople and health professionals. Dr. Bediako, as a community psychologist, uses his research and advocacy to bring awareness to the need for comprehensive services for this population.
Dr. Bediako’s involvement in the community provides opportunities for him to utilize the skills and competencies gained during training. These skills include incorporating psychological and systems level theory into community projects, contributing to collaborative organizational decision-making, developing social marketing and working with stakeholder groups. For example, Dr. Bediako collaborated with an organization to design a media campaign in an effort to educate persons getting regular blood transfusions about iron overload. He also has worked with a group from a state health department to increase awareness of and knowledge about sickle cell disease and sick cell trait by helping develop its public health strategy. Dr. Bediako is actively involved with a number of empowerment groups that address issues such as manhood development, unemployment and dietary behavior.
Dr. Bediako’s training and personal experiences have played a very important role in his efforts to teach and practice community psychology. Dr. Bediako remembers how his father, a history/government teacher and minister, integrated social justice and empowerment into his ministry. He was exposed to the principles of community organizing and community psychology through church. Dr. Bediako earned his Master’s degree  in Community Psychology from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, a that program emphasized the African-centered approach to systems theory as well as traditional theories and concepts. He was challenged to think about the application of these theories and concepts with respect to historical and cultural context. Dr. Bediako went on to earn his Doctorate in Social/Health Psychology from Stony Brook University. During graduate school, Dr. Bediako took advantage of a number of opportunities, such as, working with the Tallahassee Department of Health and the Center for Health Sciences at the University of Yaounde in Cameroon, which allowed him to utilize the skills learned in graduate school.
Dr. Bediako believes that it is important for budding community psychologists to immerse themselves in the field, connect with mentors and colleagues and identify their purpose for why they do the type of work that they do. For him, clarifying his purpose and asking himself the question, “Have I done something productive to help inspire change in somebody’s life?” keeps him motivated.
Dr. Bediako demonstrates his passion for community wellness by educating students about community psychology and applying community psychology concepts in the communities that he serves.

His entire profile is available on the SCRA website, by clicking here
Keywords: community psychology practice, public health, sickle cell research, education, collaboration, African Americans, University of Maryland-Baltimore County

This profile was written by Kyrah Brown, from Wichita State University.  It is part of a series of community psychology practitioner profiles.  If you have a suggestion for future profiles, please email 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Students, Spring is Around the Corner

No, the title of this blog post is not a cheap joke or teaser, it's the truth.  Punxutawney fill guaranteed it earlier this morning.  Spring is coming.  Which not only gives me hope on this bitterly cold winter day, but it urges me to take the next step... summer is coming!

For students, summer offers the unique opportunity to do something different.  Most of us have a brief window of time, around two months, but it's enough.  I urge you to take that time and dedicate it to community practice.

Find a local organization to work with around your university, find a community psychologist practitioner (nationally) who is doing something you want to be doing and ask to help, find a summer internship opportunity and apply now.  Summer, especially for those of us who envision that our community psychology careers will take place out in the community, is the perfect chance to prepare for that vision, and to use the information we've been cramming all semester.

At this point, summer might seem like a distant dream, but trust me, it's not.  If you want to do something different, you need to start looking for that "something" now.

Here are some resources that might be useful in creating a summer experience.  Please feel free to post your own summer plans, or resources you use, in the comments box below.


  • The SCRA Community Psychology Practice Page Discussion Board
    • Inquiries from students are welcome.  Look for someone doing something that you want to be doing.  
  • The SCRA Listserv
    • Keep an eye out for postings including summer fellowships or work experiences
  • Your Local Community
    • Lots of great opportunities exist; be willing to OFFER your services in exchange for the experience. 
If you want to go broader than jobs specifically identified as "Community Psychology" jobs....