The Community Practitioner

 medium_SCRA_logomark_4col.jpg

The
Community
Psychologist

Volume 49 Number 4
Summer 2016

The Community Practitioner

Edited by Olya Glantsman & Nicole Freund

Community Psychology Practice Council’s 2016 Initiatives

Since its inception in 1992 (see TCP Fall 2015, 48(4)) the Society for Community Research and Action’s (SCRA) Community Psychology Practice Council (CPPC) has sought to “expand the visibility, reach and impact of community psychology practice through opportunities for connection, support and professional development through the SCRA, academic community research and action graduate programs, other professional organizations and communities.” This mission drives initiatives that focus on both internal (e.g., benefits for the SCRA members, information/knowledge sharing among SCRA practitioners, etc.) and external (e.g., raising awareness about the field and about the work done by practitioners, etc.) goals. Through collaboration with other councils, interest groups, and the Executive Committee, members of the CPPC continue to celebrate, promote, and strive to exemplify the values of community psychology in practice.

In January 2016, the CPPC held its annual strategic planning call. Once a year, one of the regular monthly calls is reserved for analyzing how the group is doing and what efforts should be focused on in the coming months. During this year’s call, members expressed concerns regarding practices and approaches related to member recruitment and retention as well as enhancing member engagement. As a result, a main focus for this year is helping new members joining the CPPC feel welcomed and connected within the Council and SCRA. The council wants to help members get the most out of their experience with the CPPC as well as connect them more generally to SCRA, as an organization. Finally, council members expressed how important it was to connect practitioners to each other either geographically or with those who are working on the same topic/issue or population. Consequently, several new initiatives have emerged to address these issues.

First, a Welcoming & Recruiting (W & R) group was created to better guide and build connections with new and existing members of the council. The group develops strategies and processes to maximize member participation and engagement in the Practice Council as well as ensure that new members feel welcomed and find it easy to get involved. In doing so, we hope to promote connectedness among council members. Since Spring 2016, this workgroup has documented a list of priority areas to accomplish the overarching goal based on continuous discussions within the group and feedback from the larger Practice Council membership. It highlights key concerns voiced by members and suggested strategies for addressing those concerns. A copy of this document can be found here: (http://scra27.org/what¬we¬do/practice/about¬practice-council/documents/).

As a first step, the group is in the process of developing a welcome kit to introduce the new members to SCRA, the Practice Council, their vision and mission, working groups, and acronyms. The introductory email will also serve to connect the new member with a veteran CPPC member, who commits to spending a period of time supporting the new members’ orientation to the Practice Council. In addition, this relationship is intended to be characterized by a reciprocal transfer of diverse knowledge and expertise between colleagues. Once this system is set, the W&R group hopes to address issues such as CPPC membership engagement, strategies to engage more practitioners and the global community, collaborate with the outreach officer to post updates and success stories of CPPC. The W&R group is always glad to have new thoughts and ideas join their team; if interested please contact Ramy at rbarhouche@gmail.com."

In another effort to promote connection and improve communication, CPPC began publishing a monthly newsletter starting in February 2016. Named the Practitioner Connection, this newsletter briefly describes the group’s teleconference agenda and lists the upcoming call dates, keeping the recipients up-to-date on current events. Another feature of the newsletter is a Member Spotlight, which profiles members of the group and their interests and work. Since its creation in February, eight PC members have been profiled. (For the Practitioner Connection archive see http://www.scra27.org/what-we-do/practice/).

Hot Topics is another new initiative that came out of a desire to engage Council members in discussions of the topics relevant and interesting to the group. Each Practice Council monthly call begins with a 15-20 minute Hot Topics discussion. Members can suggest the topics they would like us to discuss on the each call: http://goo.gl/forms/pfCk1xWVpc. Some of the topics discussed so far, include “What’s the Value of Professional Development Opportunities in CP Practice?” “Brainstorming 2017 Biennial Speakers,” “A Chat/Q&A with SCRA President-Elect Candidates,” and “A Chat with Peter Charles Benedict-SCRA Outreach and Communication Specialist.” Several things have come from these Hot Topics, including a column in the TCP. Currently the group is working on its second initiative that came out of the Hot Topics discussion about knowledge/information sharing. Many of the group’s newer members are actively involved in this initiative.

An ongoing effort is The Community Practitioner column, published here in the Community Psychologist (TCP). The Society’s newsletter provides an informal venue for SCRA members to exchange ideas and information (http://www.scra27.org/publications), and it is an excellent example of the CPPC’s efforts at communicating through publication. The Community Practitioner column focuses on practice related issues such as highlighting practice careers and work by practitioners in the field (for an example, see the interview with Sam Tsemberis in TCP Spring 2016, 49(2). The last column, How Practitioners Can Access Academic Literature, specifically outlined possible sources of accessing academic literature for those outside of academia (for the full article see the upcoming TCP Summer 2016, 49(3). The idea for this column was born out of the Hot Topics discussions from March’s monthly call titled “Challenges and Strategies for accessing resources (i.e., academic resources) as a Community Psychology Practitioner” facilitated by Tabitha Underwood.

For over twenty years, the Practice Council has been a vital part of the Society for Community Research and Action and a voice to its many practitioner members. To this day, the group continues to live its mission and to make strides towards meeting both internal and external goals of the Council, while adapting to the new needs of the group and listening to the voices of its members. Anyone with an interest in practice is welcome and encouraged to join the CPPC and connect to the fellowship of practitioners across the country and even the globe.