Friday, July 15, 2016

The Practice of Community Psychology Theory-Building

By Nicole Freund, 
Ph.D. candidate at Wichita State University

     The mutual regard of practice and theory in community psychology is kind of like having dinner with co-workers or clients. There’s general amicability and some measure of respect, but the awkwardness never quite leaves the room. You can tell a joke, but not THAT joke. You can be friendly but not too familiar. The tension in the room encompasses both acknowledgement and the guilt of unrealized obligations.

     Practice relies heavily on the internalization by practitioners of theories learned through rigorous academic education and/or experience, but the building of theory and the rigor of the theory itself to withstand the buffeting winds of research may not be on the priority list for a day’s work.

     Luckily for practitioners and academics alike, there is a conversation occurring right now about the robustness of community psychology theory, the degree to which that robustness is important in practice, and the responsibility of community psychologists to contribute to current and new CP theory. Led by Dr. Leonard Jason (DePaul University) and his colleagues, this conversation needs many voices to shape the future of how community psychology is practiced and taught. Are the theories we hold dear actually theories? What does that mean? Does something that doesn’t qualify as a “theory” per se make the work based on that idea less valid? What happens to logic modeling if the logic is not what we thought? These are the questions tackled and published in the current issue of the Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice and the questions that need the voices of practitioners in order to navigate the future of CP.

     The world needs its community psychologists now more than ever. How does the field make its way forward? The conversation may not have a conclusive end, but it must have a vigorous beginning. Join it now!