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Volume 24 Number 2
Edited by Danielle Kohfeldt and Chuck Sepers
Written by Kristen Gleason, University of Hawai’i at Manoa
Human trafficking has captured public attention for more than a decade. Horrific examples of exploitation and abuse across multiple industries, including the sex industry, agriculture, domestic service, factory work, and hospitality, have been widely publicized in the news. Still, the voice of scholarly research is often noticeably absent from the public discourse surrounding human trafficking, as are the voices of formerly trafficked persons. While popular press articles abound, very few peer-reviewed studies examining human trafficking have been published in the social sciences. The research that does currently exist focuses heavily on documenting the demographic characteristics and needs of formerly trafficked persons. Exploring the issue through the lens of the seven core values of community psychology will bring a much needed balance to the research and discourse surrounding human trafficking, and will, I hope, spur more involvement from the field. Below I examine these seven core values: individual and family wellbeing, social justice, sense of community, respect for diversity, empowerment and citizen participation, collaboration and community strengths, and empirical grounding, as they relate to human trafficking.
Values of Community Psychology
Current research on human trafficking focuses overwhelmingly on issues of individual wellbeing. This is no doubt due to the clear assault on individual wellbeing that is inherent to the crime of human trafficking. In the United States, human trafficking is defined by the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (TVPA, 2000) as, “The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.” The coercion tactics used by traffickers to exploit their workers can vary. At the very minimum trafficked persons have, by definition, been subjected to threats (either to their physical person or their families) related to what will happen if they do not cooperate with their traffickers. The resultant isolation, forced labor conditions, and lost freedom can have devastating effects in multiple areas of wellbeing. Mental/emotional health, physical health, legal, and housing needs are common among trafficking survivors (Aron, Zweig, & Newmark, 2006; Macy & Johns, 2011). While there is certainly a real need to focus on addressing issues related to the individual wellness of formerly trafficked persons, over emphasis on this area creates a narrow view of the problem. A broader perspective will likely enrich our understanding of this issue.
The community psychology value of social justice is particularly pertinent to human trafficking as the crime is clearly an egregious human rights abuse. Some authors, most notably Kevin Bales, do focus on the social justice-oriented aspects of human trafficking. Bales and colleagues have written extensively about unjust national and global practices and policies that foster continued human trafficking abuses (e.g., Bales & Soodalter, 2009; Bales, 2004). For example, he examined the particular U.S. visa policies that link certain kinds of laborers (e.g., domestic and agricultural) to their employers in ways that make them vulnerable to abuse from those employers. More extensive research and advocacy efforts are needed to examine and address issues of social justice related to human trafficking. Community psychology could certainly add to our understanding in this area.
The research available to date on human trafficking is almost completely lacking in focus on aspects of community. In most cases, non-citizen trafficked persons left their home communities to pursue, what they believed to be better opportunities in America. Instead, they found themselves exploited and abused in a strange land. While individual treatment efforts are necessary and laudable, they fail to adequately consider the survivors’ need for community. I would argue that the community-oriented perspective of our discipline is a much needed addition to work in human trafficking as sense of community is often critical to individual wellbeing. Additionally, failure to consider the context of the communities surrounding newly freed trafficking survivors could impede efforts to help them. Both the culture of the individual and the culture of the community into which they are freed are important ingredients in the mix of rehabilitation. Goodkind and Foster-Fishman's (2002) research on the characteristics of host communities as they relate to the wellbeing of Hmong refugees is a good example of the kind of work that community psychologists could contribute to human trafficking research.
The importance of culture when discussing internationally trafficked persons cannot be underestimated. The community psychology value of respect for human diversity is critical to the discussion of trafficking related research. Formerly trafficked persons in the United States have come from a variety of source countries in areas ranging from Asia, Europe, South America, and Africa, to right here in North America. One of the greatest challenges faced by service providers is developing interventions that could serve survivors from such diverse backgrounds. To date a few research reports have mentioned the need for more culturally appropriate services, most notably Aron et al. (2006), but discussions of how service providers have attempted to do this are not yet available in the literature. Community psychology’s long history of designing, implementing, and evaluating culturally-appropriate interventions makes it an ideal candidate to tackle this complicated issue.
In the same respect, the discipline’s history of empowerment and citizen participation also makes it an ideal pioneer in addressing this social issue. As formerly trafficked persons are an extremely vulnerable population, research that includes their perspectives is difficult to come by (see Aron et al., 2006 and Coonan, 2004 for notable exceptions). Their voices are noticeably absent from public discourse about human trafficking and what to do about it. Bringing the ideas and input of formerly trafficked persons into research is imperative if policy makers and service providers truly intend to help survivors and address human trafficking in our country.
While the academic research in the area of human trafficking may be sparse, community groups on the ground have been addressing the issue for years. Harnessing their knowledge and insight could move the academic and public policy discussions of human trafficking past a needs-based and individualistic approach to human trafficking issues. In their book, The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today, Bales and Soodalter (2009) highlight a remarkable organization that has been involved in helping formerly trafficked persons. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers is a community-based organization of migrant agricultural workers that has been involved in the anti-trafficking movement for over 15 years. The organization investigates labor abuses, conducts national campaigns to pressure big businesses to pay more for produce, and educates migrant workers on their rights. They have been remarkably successful in helping authorities find and prosecute traffickers, as wells as in advocating for changes in corporate practices that make migrant workers vulnerable to human trafficking. Community psychologists’ approach to research using collaboration and community strengths could examine this kind of community success in order to expand the national discourse on trafficking beyond the current narrow focus on survivor needs.
One reason that research in the area of human trafficking is so sparse is that trafficked persons are a hidden population. Determining the extent and demographics of those caught in human trafficking is thus difficult. Tyldum and Brunovskis (2005) provide a thoughtful discussion of the methodological challenges involved with attempting to research human trafficking. Current studies have examined the characteristics of trafficking cases that have been identified by law enforcement. This sample provides a limited amount of information on trafficking, but is likely not representative of the total population of trafficked persons. Tyldum and Brunovskis (2005) stress that while quantifying the extent and demographics of those who have been trafficked is in a rudimentary stage of research, much can still be learned from qualitative studies with formerly trafficked persons. Community psychology as a field has some pre-existing experience on working with hidden populations (e.g. illicit drug users and women in situations of domestic violence) and with creative methodological solutions to complex research questions. Our ability to use empirically grounded techniques in the context of real world situations is certainly an asset sorely needed in human trafficking related research.
The seven core values of community psychology have guided my own choices in how to research this topic and I hope this discussion will interest others to examine human trafficking through the lens of community psychology. In order to contextualize the discussion of human trafficking policy, my current thesis project seeks to use semi-structured qualitative interviews with service providers in Hawai`i to examine how human trafficking is conceptualized in the Islands. I intend to later expand this project to include the perspectives of trafficked persons so that their voices can be more present in our academic research. My project is just one small step to better understanding this issue and many more thoughtfully designed approaches to human trafficking are just waiting to be discovered.
Aron, L. Y., Zweig, J. M., & Newmark, L. C. (2006). Comprehensive Services for Survivors of Human Trafficking: Findings from Clients in Three Communities. Urban Institute: Justice Policy Center. Retrieved from http://www.urban.org/publications/411507.html
Bales, K. (2004). Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy, Revised Edition, With a New Preface (2nd ed.). University of California Press.
Bales, K., & Soodalter, R. (2009). The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today (1st ed.). University of California Press.
Coonan, T. (2004). Human Trafficking: Victims’ Voices in Florida. Journal of Social Work Research and Evaluation, 5(2), 207–216.
Goodkind, J. R., & Foster-Fishman, P. G. (2002). Integrating diversity and fostering interdependence: Ecological lessons learned about refugee participation in multiethnic communities. Journal of Community Psychology, 30(4), 389–410. doi:10.1002/jcop.10012
Macy, R. J., & Johns, N. (2011). Aftercare services for international sex trafficking survivors: Informing U.S. Service and program development in an emerging practice area. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 12(2), 87–98. doi:10.1177/1524838010390709
Tyldum, G., & Brunovskis, A. (2005). Describing the Unobserved: Methodological Challenges in Empirical Studies on Human Trafficking. International Migration, 43(1‐2), 17–34. doi:10.1111/j.0020-7985.2005.00310.x
Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000. , 22,U.S.C. 7101(b) 386 (2000).
Written by Ryan M. Weston & Melissa L. Whitson, University of New Haven
Note: This paper is the beginning portions of the first author’s master thesis. Melissa serves as the advisor for the first author’s master thesis.
The relationship between an advisor and advisee has been discussed as a core component of the graduate school experience (Schlosser & Gelso, 2001). Advisors have been known to lead their advisees in constructing original research, guiding them through proper coursework, placing them with internship sites, and even being sources of recommendations for occupational placement (Huber, Sauer, Mrdjenovich, & Gugiu, 2010; Inman, Schlosser, Ladany, Howard, Boyd, Altman, 2011). Although the literature has emphasized the critical role an advisor plays in an advisee’s graduate training, Schlosser and Gelso (2005) noted that there have been very few empirical studies focusing on this pivotal relationship. Among the studies that have examined the advising relationship, the majority of them have gravitated around counseling or clinical doctoral programs, and ignored other areas of psychological study, including community psychology.
In one of the earlier studies regarding the advisor-advisee relationship, Schlosser and Gelso (2001) argued that the advising relationship can have a significant influence on the advisee’s development as a practitioner and as a scientist. It was further noted that research related attitudes (overall attitude towards research, research productivity) can also be heavily influenced by whether the advisee has obtained a positive or negative relationship with their advisor. Inman et al. (2011) also argued about the impact that a positive or negative advising relationship can have on the advisee, suggesting that self-efficacy, research competence, and an overall interest in science and practice can be greatly influenced. For instance, Huber et al. (2010) indicated that doctoral candidates who were satisfied with their relationship with their advisor, typically attended more advising meetings, were more encouraged to attend professional conferences, and were more likely to discuss career plans with their advisor as compared to dissatisfied advisees.
As previously noted, there is very limited literature regarding the advisor-advisee relationship in graduate psychology programs. Interestingly, the advisor-advisee relationship has been noted as a core component of the graduate school experience, along with fostering personal growth and scholarly development among students, yet continues to be a subject that has received minimal attention by researchers and psychologists (Schlosser & Gelso, 2001, 2005; Huber et al., 2010; Inman et al., 2011). Therefore, it is pivotal that the advising relationship receives greater interest not only among researchers, but faculty and students as well, due to the critical implications the relationship holds for the professional and personal development of the advisee.
Although various studies have examined the different occurring factors in the advising relationship, a majority of these studies examine “general advising,” and are not major specific. For instance, Sutton and Sankar (2011) argued that although academic advising has received some attention over the years, few studies examine the specific advising needs of those students that choose a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) major, and how each of these majors may differ in the advising needs of the student. These issues also exist in psychology, since the majority of advising studies focus on counseling or clinical doctoral programs, and fail to examine other areas such as community psychology (Schlosser & Gelso, 2001, 2005; Schlosser & Kahn, 2007; Inman et al., 2011), which may have different advising needs. For instance, Inman et al. (2011) suggested that counseling and clinical students undergo training which emphasizes a practitioner approach, in which students do pre and post-doctoral internships in mental health settings. Community psychology students however, tend to undergo training which emphasizes collaboration with community organizations that seek to transform public and social policy through action oriented research (Society for Community Research and Action [SCRA], 2013). So students in a counseling or clinical program may go to their advisor in search of advice or guidance regarding how to handle a particular client, how one would start up a private practice, or what particular therapeutic approach would best suit a certain disorder. Community psychology students may seek to find which organizations they should collaborate with, how to approach changing a particular public policy, or how to bring social awareness into a particular community. Although there is some overlap in terms of goals and values, community psychology is a distinct subfield, and research which strictly centers on clinical or counseling programs many not apply to community psychology programs.
The current study seeks to examine the advising relationship among graduate community psychology students through completion of a few short surveys and a demographic sheet. This study will help provide a better understanding of the advising relationship in community psychology programs, and reinforce its importance to a successful graduate career. We are asking that current students who are in a graduate community psychology programs go to the link listed below to participate in the survey. Participant’s names will not be included on any of the measures utilized in the study. The investigator will not be able to identify the data of individual participants because no identifying information will be included on the demographic or rating forms. Further, electronic data will be maintained in a password-protected file on any computer used for data analysis purposes inside a locked office. We thank you in advance for your willingness to complete this study.
Huber, D. M., Sauer, E. M., Mrdjenovich, A. J., & Gugiu, P. (2010). Contributions to advisory
working alliance: Advisee attachment orientation and pairing methods. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 4(4), 244-253. doi:10.1037/a0019213.
Inman, A.G., Schlosser, L.Z., Howard, E.E., Boyd, D. L., Altman, A.N., & Stein, E.P. (2011). Advisee nondisclosures in doctoral-level advising relationship. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 5(3), 149-159.
Schlosser, L. Z. & Gelso, C. J. (2001). Measuring the working alliance in advisor-advisee relationships in graduate school. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 48(3), 157-167.
Schlosser, L. Z., & Gelso, C. J. (2005). The Advisory Working Alliance Inventory--Advisor Version: Scale Development and Validation. Journal Of Counseling Psychology, 52(4), 650-654. doi:10.1037/0022-0188.8.131.520.
Schlosser, L. Z., & Kahn, J. H. (2007). Dyadic perspectives on advisor-advisee relationships in counseling psychology doctoral programs. Journal Of Counseling Psychology, 54(2), 211-217. doi:10.1037/0022-0184.108.40.206
Society for Community Research and Action (SCRA), (2011, February 14). What is Community Psychology? Retrieved February 24, 2013, from: http://www.scra27.or/resources/educationc/ceph and outpdf.