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Volume 24 Number 2
Written by Jasmine Douglas, Wichita State University, Olya Glantsman, DePaul University, Kyrah K. Brown, Wichita State University, Mike Lemke, Wichita State University, Sharon Johnson-Hakim, Atlantic Health System, Tom Wolff, Tom Wolff & Associates, Greg Meissen, Wichita State University
The Community Psychology Practice Council (CPPC) hosted the second Community Psychology Practice Summit on June 26, 2013, as part of the Society for Community Research and Action (SCRA) Biennial Conference in Miami, FL. Similar to the first Practice Summit in 2007, this venue had broad interest as shown through registration. Seventy-five active and motivated participants attended the Summit. The action-oriented event consisted of four major goals: (1) Re-energize the field of Community Psychology Practice; (2) Sharpen and broaden our community psychology practice action agenda; (3) Identify concrete new directions and make plans to work on them; and (4) Engage new people who will take some responsibility for follow-up.
The Practice Summit was planned and facilitated by, Tom Wolff, Greg Meissen, Kyrah Brown, Olya Glantsman, Mike Lemke, Sharon Johnson-Hakim, and Gloria Levin. The planning group members were experienced practitioners, graduate students, and university faculty. The Summit’s process echoed community psychology in practice and was an interactive, empowering, participatory planning process with multiple opportunities for small and large group discussion designed to give voice to all. The purpose of this article is to summarize and further disseminate the outcomes of the Summit and to highlight the progress of the initiatives proposed. In addition, we hope the article will provide an opportunity for those interested in joining the Community Psychology Practice Council to get involved.
To begin the day, the 75 attendees were assigned to eight small groups to create high levels of creative thinking by community psychologists from different places with different experience. When groups were asked, “What is working well in the practice of Community Psychology and the Practice Council and SCRA?” the consensus top items included:
The Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice and its international approach,
When asked “What is NOT working well in the practice of Community Psychology and the Practice Council and SCRA?” the top responses for areas for improvement were:
The Summit Participants next went into deliberation regarding the most important initiatives, issues or activities the SCRA Community Psychology Practice Council should focus on as we move forward? The eight small groups developed 12 choices. Through a systematic voting system participants ranked their top four choices, which then developed into working groups to determine next steps. This part of the process allowed all attendees to select the group that they were passionate about and would consider taking action to bring these ideas to fruition.
Each group asked the following questions within their workgroups:
1. If we really got it right regarding your issue what would it look like in 10 years?
2. What are the three things that we could start working on right away to make progress toward these desired outcomes?
3. What is the “low hanging fruit” that would allow us to move forward immediately? And, how are we going to make this happen? (Do these actions already fit within an existing Practice Council work group or some effort outside the Practice Council? Or do we need a new work group to start working toward these goals?) Each group was then to make arrangements to follow up and identified ad hoc leaders.
A brief description of the four group discussions can be found below:
Group 1: Enhancing visibility of Community Psychologists to consumers of practice
Throughout the Summit attendees voiced the need to enhance the visibility of the field of community psychology. This workgroup believed there are visibility concerns related to employment. To have success on this issue employers would need to understand what a community psychologist can do, and to see community psychologist listed in job announcements. Additional goals were for the competencies, the field to be universal knowledge, to increase the visibility among peers, and to have knowledge of what other community psychologists are doing. To accomplish these goals, ideas about branding and accessibility were in the forefront. A common theme to achieve branding was through social media. Utilizing YouTube, media press releases, Instagram, Twitter, SCRA website, and the hiring of an outreach professional.
Group 2: Demonstrate system level change effectiveness.
The premise of this group was identifying the need to define system change at different levels, create a documentation process, and measure through evaluation and tracking. Several action thoughts were discussed including the creation of a database of examples, a special issue in the Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice, create and determine models, and create a guide of translating research to policy markers.
Group 3: Address the gap between research and practice, and build better relationship between practice and academia
Group three was formed to deliberate on how to bridge the gap between research and practice. This collaborative discussion highlighted the need for more prominence for community based participatory research (CBPR), and the notion that opportunities for students to learn practice creates opportunities to learn research. Ideas were given on standardizing training approaches across academic programs, blurring the lines between practice and research, and strengthen technical assistance. To reach this goal the group believed incorporating mini grants, defining community psychology success, creating a tool for how to provide technical assistance to specific situations, and having liaisons between practice in field and academic programs.
Group 4: “Refinding” a radical position on the values upon which Community Psychology was founded.
The fourth group suggested several initiatives to reengage in a radical position. They included; impacting validity, emphasizing a spirit of agitation, connecting rhetoric and action, incorporate critical pedagogy and theory, and reclaiming a critical voice. This group was active in discussing ideas for taking a radical position and thoughts included; establishing competencies for radical change, identifying a network of “radical” community psychologists, recruit other community psychology practitioners to engage in these efforts as a support, and identify a theory change.
Summit Action Plans
Each of the four workgroups were asked how would their ideas look in 10 years, what 3 things could we start working on immediately, identify the “low hanging fruit” that would move us forward immediately, and how are we going to make this happen. A number of these work groups are continuing toward these early goals and the most promising goals have been incorporated into the agenda of the Community Psychology Practice Council.
The Community Psychology Practice Summit emerged with a number of innovative ideas that are currently in progress including:
1. Community Psychology Summer Institute
a. To address competencies that are taught the least and are most important to the social change agenda in SCRA’s vision.
2. Community Psychology Practitioners as resources for Graduate Programs for exposure to competencies.
a. Skype visits, on-campus visits, and mentoring.
3. Create work products that increase the visibility of the Community Psychology field
a. Identify existing publications that are mainstream that would be good venues for community psychologist research and practice.
b. Partnering with the CEP to have community psychology included in introductory psychology textbooks.
c. Standardize a document or presentation that highlights “What Community Psychologists can do for you.”
4. Jobs-Web based resource for practitioners on new SCRA website
5. Work with SCRA Council on Education Programs on next steps on 18 Community Psychology Competencies
6. Find lost alumnae of SCRA and Community Psychology graduate programs that we know are doing great work
Overall, the Summit offered an excellent opportunity for practitioners from across the globe to discuss and strategize on the future of the field; as is evident by the number of projects growing out of Summit discussions, this format was successful. New articles and books are being written highlighting the practice work of Community Psychologists to help increase the visibility of the field andto help those interested in practice learn more about available opportunities. A number of Community Psychology Practice Council members are actively involved in the re-vamping of the SCRA’s website and a survey has been launched to identify Community Psychology Practitioners to consult with academic departments. In an effort to find the lost alumnae, a proposal is in the works to use the social networking approach to involve faculty and students to help identify their colleagues in practice. A Professional Development Committee has been created and is being led by Susan Wolfe, a member of the Practice Council and they are now planning creating a Summer Community Psychology Continuing Education Institute.
The Summit identified innovative ideas have added energy and engaged new members in the Community Psychology Practice Council and the field while sharpening and broadening the Practice Council agenda. Now, but we need your help. To learn more or to become a part of these efforts it is as easy as emailing Practice Council at .