The Community Practitioner

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The
Community
Psychologist

Volume 49 Number 1 
Winter 2016

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Edited by Olya Glantsman

Imagining the Future of CP Practice: Update on the Visioning Session at the 2015 Biennial
Written by Nicole Freund (nmfreund@gmail.com)

While early summer in Lowell, Massachusetts was a little on the cool side during the 2015 SCRA Biennial this past June, one room was hot with energy and ideas. The SCRA Practice Council sponsored a two-part 2.5-hour session designed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of community psychology and to generate ideas for guiding SCRA members into the future. This visioning session was inspired by past success in tapping the human capital of SCRA members to launch great concepts and contribute to the field of community psychology. Celebrating how far community psychology has come set the stage for looking to the future and trying to plan for positive, if challenging, change.

In an effort to strike the right balance between wildly open brainstorming and focused action planning, the moderators structured the discussion around specific areas of interest regarding Visioning_2_small.jpgthe future vision for SCRA and community psychology practice. These areas of interest were generated through both practice council discussions and an open invitation to the entire SCRA membership to offer thoughts about the burning issues facing the field of community psychology. From these inputs, there were ultimately seven interest areas identified:

1. Community Spaces (physical and virtual public spaces),

2. Dissemination (bridging the gap between research and practice),

3. Education (all levels of training, academic and community),

4. Intersectoral Partnerships (connections to other fields, organizational and interpersonal),

5. Policy and Systems Change (large scale change),

6. SCRA as an Organization (member engagement), and

7. Visibility (awareness of community psychology).

In addition to the seven specific areas, and eighth area was set aside for “Open Space,” which allowed for very broad, undirected visions for the future.

The session took place in a multi-level room, and members came and filled the space with strong voice and positive energy. Visioning_3_small.jpgAs Biennial attendees came in, they self-selected to the interest area that mattered most to them. Through this process, some of the interest areas combined so that, ultimately, discussions centered on five areas: 1) Community Spaces and Education, 2) Dissemination, 3) Intersectoral Partnerships, 4) Policy and Systems Change, and 5) SCRA as an Organization and Visibility. Within the context of each interest area (or combined areas), the groups were first tasked with finishing this question: “If we really got it right, in 2065…” The remainder of the first session was spent fleshing out these ideas. After a short intermission when some visioners had to depart and the tables acquired some new participants, action planning took place to try to prioritize and set next steps for the envisioned ideas. Over the course of the three hours, more than 30 SCRA members contributed to the session and plotted a course for the future of SCRA and community psychology.

Some of the ideas that emerged from the discussions as priorities included:

  • Finding ways for practitioners to access some of the same research resources and literature that academics have at their fingertips,
  • Creating a SCRA endorsement for practitioners so that students at various levels of education know which internship opportunities are good ones,
  • Developing target policy topics around which to begin gathering tools and research resources, and
  • Getting practitioners to identify as community psychologists and be more vocal about community program successes.

Within these ideas, participants identified the assets and groups that currently exist to bring these goals to fruition. Discussions included identifying ways to work with other councils and committees and finding the common ground to pursue goals. The SCRA as an Organization/Visibility group, in particular, had a lot of overlap with the current work of the Executive Committee in their strategic planning efforts. Several EC members were present at this discussion, which helped both to guide the vision and to create new ideas for those who also serve on the strategic planning committee to take back for that work.Visioning_5_small.jpg

The end results of this session were more compelling ideas and concepts than there are column inches to report them. The Practice Council would like to thank sincerely those who participated and the representatives from other committees and councils who lent their expertise to the discussions. Members who were unable to participate because of conflicts but would like to be involved in following up on the prioritized ideas and action plans are welcome and encouraged to contact the co-chairs of the Practice Council (Kyrah Brown and Olya Glantsman) to connect with teams working on each interest area. Next steps in carrying forward the ideas generated at the Visioning Sessions include reaching out to attendees (and any new members who have interest) to form workgroups that will carry out planned initiatives. The power to engage in change for an ever better future is in everyone’s hands. To those who began the journey in June and to those who carry these ideas into the future, many thanks.

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