Volume 52   Number 3 Summer 2019

From our Members

Edited by Susan M. Wolfe, Susan Wolfe and Associates

#NoResearchAboutBronxPatients  WithoutBronxPatients: The BxCRRB’s Community Engaged Research Academy

Written by Monique A. Guishard, CUNY—Bronx Community College; Justin T. Brown, CUNY—LaGuardia Community College; and Lucretia E. Jones, Michael G. Williams, and Marzetta Harris, The Bronx Community Research Review Board (BxCRRB) 

In this project spotlight we, an interdisciplinary collective comprised of members of the Bronx Community Research Review Board (BxCRRB), patients, caregivers, organizers, community social psychologists, and public health researchers share aspects of our participatory work aimed at shifting the culture of public health research in Bronx County.

Briefly, The BxCRRB’s mission is to ERADICATE health inequities that exist in marginalized communities in the Bronx. With RADICAL LOVE for our neighbors, we aim to:

  1. TRANSFORM the culture of health research in our borough (from top-down to bottom-up) by increasing the power of those who are researched
  2. PROTECT the health of the Bronx through community engagement, our research review process, and promoting the return of research findings back to impacted persons and communities
  3. INSIST on the shared ownership of benefits and products of research
  4. PROVIDE **healing-centered education to Bronx patients AND researchers, through our Community Engaged Research Academy (CERA).Figure_Brown_and_Guishard.png

The members of the BxCRRB value:

  • The LIVED EXPERIENCES of marginalized and minoritized peoples in healthcare and in research.
  • The SELF-DETERMINATION of Bronx residents, patients, and caregivers-- as it pertains to the research conducted on us and in The Bronx.
  • RIGOROUS COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT that sustains high levels of community participation from the planning stages, to collecting data, to sharing the findings of the project. Rigorous community engagement must also compensate individuals for their expertise.
  • MEANINGFUL COLLABORATION, for example, between patients, community-based organizations, researchers, and health care providers. Meaningful collaboration must include transparency, shared: decision making power, understanding, and accountability.
  • A STRENGTH BASED APPROACH TO RESEARCH, which demands that the research process educates, affirms, uplifts, and empowers people to better advocate for themselves and their communities.
  • CREATING A HEALTHIER BRONX through community outreach, the creation of forums, Community Engaged Research Academies, workshops, and social media to inform residents of their rights in research and relevant research findings that impact the communities of the Bronx.

Together, over the past years, we co-facilitated the Community Engaged Research Academy (CERA). CERA is/was a street and patient centered learning space designed to catalyze radical engagement with research by teaching ordinary folks public health research methods. This provides a rigorous research ethics education in order to build their capacities to conduct independent action research projects without having to rely on researchers. Within CERA, community experts - not participants, were taught a variety of embodied public health methodologies including body mapping, space mapping, genetic ancestry testing, narrative analysis poems derived from their health records, and the social determinants of Bronx health. Classes were literally facilitated on the margins: within community spaces at community colleges, and at three community-based organizations.

Thus far 37 community experts have graduated from CERA. We have co-facilitated two exhibitions of their work and convened three community dialogues with over 150 attendees, to disseminate our findings back to Bronx communities. In the next issue of TCP we will share a digital toolkit we developed that highlights the labor, research methods, teaching styles, and radical engagement of our participatory steering committee, the community-based IRB that ethically evaluated our work, the humanizing, healing-centered andragogy, activities, and dissemination strategies we used. We will offer our toolkit, in print and in digital form, as a much-needed resource to beginning and veteran community psychologists in addition to patient advocates. We situate our toolkit at the intersection of policy, in-between educative spaces, as necessary precursors to independent self-determining patient-centered movements.

Actualizing CERA was a powerful experience for all of us, reflections from participants and academic facilitators embody this sentiment:

            “I've seen the change in me as a CERA alum, and in colleagues I knew before CERA. CERA has enlightened us community experts on issues of ethics in research, health disparities, and the need for true community engagement and not just participation in the healthcare process.  CERA has awoken the passion in community experts to take on the system to make changes to improve the health and lives of Bronx residents.”

CERA 2017 Graduate Focus Group Excerpt 

“I'm reminded to not overuse jargon, to continue to introduce complex terms and concepts and to break them down. CERA gives me hope for authentic, intersectional PAR work. CERA reminds me of patients' agency, amidst real fears and systemic power imbalances. CERA's presence /reflexivity on social media has influenced how I think about grant proposals, "voice," outcomes, and celebration.”

CERA 2018 Facilitator Feedback Survey Excerpt

The Community Engaged Research Academy was funded by a Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute Eugene Washington Engagement Award #3422. Follow our work at 


del Campo, F. M.; Casado, J., Spencer, P. & Strelnick, H. (2013). The development of the Bronx Community Research Review Board: A pilot feasibility project for a model of community consultation. Progress in Community Health Partnerships, 7(3), 341-352.

Ford, C. L., & Airhihenbuwa, C. O. (2010). Critical race theory, race equity, and public health: toward antiracism praxis. American Journal of Public Health, 100(S1), S30-S35. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2009.171058

Guishard, M. A.; Halkovic, A., Galletta, A., & Li, P. (2018). Toward Epistemological Ethics: Centering Communities and Social Justice in Qualitative Research. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 19(3), Art. 27,

Guishard, M. (2015). Nepantla and Ubuntu ethics para nosotros: Beyond scrupulous adherence toward threshold perspectives of participatory/collaborative research ethics. Doctoral Dissertation, The Graduate and University Center, City University of New York, New York, NY. [Accessed: April 21, 2019]

Guishard, M. (2009). The false paths, the endless labors, the turns now this way and now that: Participatory action research, mutual vulnerability, and the politics of inquiry. The Urban Review, 41(1), 85-105.

Laura, C. T. (2013). Intimate Inquiry: Love as "data" in qualitative research. Cultural Studies Critical Methodologies, 13(4), 289-292.

Shore, N., Park, A., Castro, P.; Wat, E., Sablan-Santos, L. Isaacs, M., Freeman, E.,  Cooks, J. M., Drew, E., & Seifer, S.D. (2014). Redefining research ethics review: Case studies of five community-led models. Seattle, WA: Community-Campus Partnerships for Health, [Accessed: March 1, 2019].

Communities and Practitioners Need to Focus on Vulnerable Populations and Disasters

Written by Sharon L. Cohen, SCRA Member, Newtown Connecticut

Sadly, the last few months have proved once again how catastrophic events can harm mental health for the long term, particularly with more vulnerable individuals. My community of Newtown, Connecticut, recently faced the suicide of Jeremy Richman, PhD, whose six-year-old daughter Avielle had died in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in 2012. Although Dr. Richman had been conducting cutting-edge research on the brain through the Avielle Foundation, he lost his fight against pain and grief. In addition, Parkland, Florida reported the suicides of two students as another result of its 2018 school shooting, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) noted that mental health continues to be an urgent problem in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria. Numerous Puerto Ricans are living in constant fear and uncertain of the future; those who witnessed the enormous extent of the storm’s devastation are more prone to mood swings, panic attacks, and anxiety (The Costa Rica News, 2019).

As the quantity and severity of both natural and human-caused disasters continues to rise, it is expected that increasing numbers of people will suffer from acute-distress or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The American Psychiatric Association (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5, 2013) clearly recognizes the connection between PTSD and a traumatic experience. The APA explains that PTSD is a “psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other violent personal assault.” PTSD has been known by a variety of terms such as “shell shock” during World War I and “combat fatigue” after World War II. Yet it is now recognized that PTSD impacts many more people than veterans. It occurs in individuals of any ethnicity, nationality or culture, and age and affects approximately 3.5 percent of American adults.  About one in eleven people will be diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetime, with women twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with the malady.

The research of long-time SCRA member Fran Norris, PhD continues to become more noteworthy with these growing catastrophes. Norris was previously with the Department of Psychiatry at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and well-known for her expertise in disaster recovery, community resilience, and trauma/PTSD. Norris reinforced how characteristics as age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and culture influence mental healthcare on need for help; availability and accessibility of help; help-seeking comfort; and the probability that help is appropriately provided. In a 2005 article, she and Margarita Alegria concluded that certain factors can enhance disaster mental health recovery, particularly with vulnerable or “at-risk” populations. The authors suggested that practitioners endorse such activities as: assess community needs early and often; provide easily accessible services; work collaboratively and proactively to reduce stigma and mistrust and engage minorities in care; value interdependence and independence as a developmental goal; and promote community action. They concluded that despite their pain and stress, disasters create opportunities to de-stigmatize mental health needs and build trust between providers and community populations.

As Norris noted, every community has residents who are at higher risk for being negatively impacted in a disaster. Clearly, certain community populations are more vulnerable when disasters occur and many receive suboptimal healthcare. Typically, individuals who have received inadequate or diminished support services prior to a calamity are the first ones to be overlooked once the event occurs.

The World Health Organization ( defines vulnerable as “… the degree to which a population, individual or organization is unable to anticipate, cope with, resist and recover from the impacts of disasters.” The Centers for Disease Control ( identifies at-risk populations as “those groups whose needs are not fully addressed by traditional service providers or who feel they cannot comfortably or safely access and use the standard resources offered in disaster preparedness, relief, and recovery.” Some of these vulnerable populations include, but are not limited to children and youth, the elderly, socioeconomically disadvantaged, physically disabled, mentally ill, non-English speaking, homeless, and migrants. At-risk individuals also include those on life-support systems and dialysis, having radiation treatment, and going to methadone clinics.

It is disappointing that since Norris and Alegria’s conclusions in 2005, many disasters continue to occur where vulnerable populations are slighted and, as a result, at greater peril for experiencing trauma-related mental illness. Disaster response and recovery research describe a number of recent examples of resource non-parity. For example, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita clearly illustrated considerable gaps in emergency preparedness planning for the entire community, but particularly demonstrated how the needs of many of the community members were not met—or even ignored. Although organizations have tried to rectify this situation, "few have integrated the perspective and experience of local service providers to investigate the needs of these populations and create a unified framework for addressing the challenges involved" (Nick et al., 2009). A large number of the most vulnerable residents were left stranded and awaiting evacuation support, refused shelter by unprepared organizations, and faced distressing challenges in obtaining emergency services due to preexisting mental and physical health conditions.

During these same hurricanes, individuals with psychiatric conditions faced multiple forms of discrimination (National Council on Disability, 2006), such as denied access to housing and services and improper and involuntary placement in jails, emergency rooms, nursing homes, and mental institutions. Group home residents were sent to new locations without prearrangement or tracking systems and unable to be found by family members or original providers. People with psychiatric disabilities “encountered enormous problems with general shelters,” because such facilities were “crowded, noisy, chaotic, confusing, and sometimes violent, all inadequate circumstances for a person with psychosis, anxiety, or depression.” Although some special needs shelters were available, they were designed for people with medical and physical disabilities and not prepared for those with mental health needs. Such special needs shelters were used as an excuse to discriminate against individuals seeking access to the general shelters, and some mentally ill were not able to obtain shelter at all.

Research on survivors of Hurricane Ike in 2008 found that low socioeconomic factors were associated with greater likelihood of depression (Tracy, Norris, & Galea, 2011). Individuals with a lower annual household income and a high school degree as opposed to some college or more years of education were more likely to be depressed.  Just last year, Puerto Rico was particularly devastated because of its previous socioeconomic, infrastructure, and health issues. Half of the island’s residents live below the poverty level. The Environmental Protection Agency reported that severe lack of water in some cases led to drinking from wells at hazardous waste Superfund sites. The number of deaths neared 3,000 and the number of people who tried to commit suicide more than tripled.

Mental health has long played a backseat role in disaster response.  It is only since the 9-11 attacks that the federal government and states have begun to focus more on psychological intervention. For example, psychological first aid became the model for early mental health support after disasters, and use of this care system has since proliferated across the country. At the same time, most communities do not have an established plan on how to meet the needs of their at-risk population. It is difficult to help these vulnerable populations if few resources are placed in learning more about their needs prior to the occurrence of a disaster. It is imperative that communities focus on conducting public/mental health assessments of these populations to determine their needs and assets, as well as requesting input from representatives of these groups to help develop and deliver better disaster preparedness, response, and recovery efforts. 

Based on research, it is very clear that disasters can cause high levels of stress and, in many cases, PTSD, depression and anxiety.  Severe levels of trauma will only worsen over time if left untreated, especially for those who live in areas of reoccurring calamities. Imagine what it is like for those who are still trying to recover from one major natural disaster when another one hits, and then another.  Given the expected increase in severity and duration of disasters in the coming years, such repeat situations will become the norm.  For those who are already vulnerable due to a large number of factors, the situation will become even more dire.  Once again, it must be highly recommended that communities and practitioners make significant efforts to enhance their knowledge, understanding, and support of these at risk populations. Their untreated trauma and suicidal inclination is inexcusable.

NOTE: Cohen is co-author of Disaster Mental Health Planning: A Manual for Trauma- Informed Collaboration, to be published by Routledge in Fall of 2019. She received a SCRA mini-grant to kick off this project and was a speaker at the upcoming SCRA biennial meeting.


American Psychiatric Association (2013). DSM–5.  Arlington, VA.

National Council on Disability (2006). The needs of people with psychiatric disabilities during and after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  Retrieved from

Nick, G.A., Savoia E, Elqura L, Crowther MS, Cohen B, Leary M, Wright T, Auerbach J, & Koh H.K.(2009). Emergency preparedness for vulnerable populations: people with special health-care needs. Public Health Rep, 124(2), 338-342

Norris, F.H. & Alegria, M. (2005).  Mental health care for ethnic minority individuals and communities in the aftermath of disasters and mass violence. CNS Spectra 10(2), 132-40.

The Costa Rica News (2019, March 5). Puerto Rico’s mental health. Retrieved from

Tracy, M., Norris, F.H., & Galea, S. (2011). Differences in the determinants of posttraumatic stress disorder and depression after a mass traumatic event. Depress Anxiety, 28(8), 666-675.

Implementing In-Service Trainings for Mental Health Professionals: Working LGBTQ+ Affirmatively with Clients

Written by Natasha Colin-Ellerin and Cat Eskilson, Antioch University Los Angeles

At Antioch University of Los Angeles, two clinical psychology graduate students in the Applied Community Psychology (ACP) specialization conducted a field study which implemented a curriculum on “Working LGBTQ+ Affirmatively with Clients” by bringing the in-service training to various mental health agencies across Los Angeles. This field study provided an opportunity to utilize the community psychology tools learned in the program in order to engage in direct community-based work through hands on experience. Through taking this course, it allowed for engagement in topics and issues that are meaningful and provided a proactive approach to working in the community.

Although the content of the curriculum was adjusted slightly depending on the theoretical orientation of the agency, the foundation of the training focused on understanding terminology and vocabulary, as well as deconstructing internal and external assumptions and biases within the LGBTQ+ community, and providing best practices, techniques and interventions when working with clients.

Within this framework, two community psychology practice competencies (Dalton & Wolfe, 2012) were: 1) Sociocultural and Cross-Cultural Competence was addressed through integration of multiple cultures and identities within the LGBTQ+ community, addressing community issues that were inclusive and empowering, and articulating the ways in which our interactions with LGBTQ+ clients can be impacted by one’s own heteronormative and cisnormative privilege; and 2) Community Education, Information Dissemination, in which was addressed through communicating information and dialoguing with mental health professionals on the importance around public awareness, visibility and knowledge around being LGBTQ+ affirmative in their practice.

This information is provided to students in the LGBT Specialization at Antioch University; however, there is less accessibility to this content at mental health agencies that have not had training in LGBTQ+ affirmative therapy. Therefore, by providing access to these resources and discussion of these topics in a clinical setting, it allows for clinicians to be more aware and informed of the issues facing LGBTQ+ identified persons.

A general curriculum was developed during a Psycho-educational Groups class in the Applied Community Psychology specialization which was three hours long on how to apply the information in a clinical setting with LGBTQ+ clients. However, based on the agencies who indicated interest in this training, each curriculum had to be tailored to meet the needs of the agency and its theoretical orientation as they were all very different. These orientations included: Narrative, Feminist and Psychodynamic. In addition, another reason for this as a field study was to deliver this in-service and distribute pre and post assessment surveys to assess the efficacy of the trainings and determine whether there is a significant difference and increase in people’s knowledge and awareness of the LGBTQ+ community after going through the training.

The major tasks over the course of the quarter were adapting the curriculum to each agency, as well as giving the actual trainings themselves and then evaluating the data from the assessments that were conducted. Refining and adapting the curriculum consisted of assessing the material that was in the original in-service and tying in different theoretical orientations. In this process, a lot of research was done in order to collect relevant information to add. For example, in psychodynamic theory, there could have been a lot of avenues to go down when relating theory to LGBTQ+ topics (such as discussing Kohut and Self-Psychology, as well as Winnicott and the true/false self). However, for the purpose of the training, it seemed more pertinent to discuss the ‘unconscious’ as it related to internalized homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, which took up the whole second half of the training for that particular curriculum.

In addition, handouts and resources were provided to participants in order to have supplemental information that was unable to be covered in the training due to time constraints. These resources consisted of a terminology and vocabulary list, a list of ‘Best Practices for Therapists’, a list of varying interventions and techniques working with LGBTQ+ clients, and a resource list of different organizations in Los Angeles that offer services to the LGBTQ+ community. After conducting the trainings, pre and post assessments were collected and entered into an Excel document, and the mean and mode between both assessments were calculated.

When data from the pre and post assessments collected throughout this process were analyzed, respondents indicated that because of this in-service they experienced an increase in their knowledge about working affirmatively with the LGBTQ+ community. This result is promising as it indicates that the trainings had a positive, measurable effect on the participants. The result is also encouraging as hopefully other LGBTQ+ competency trainings may have a similar effect and impact more mental health clinicians who may have LGBTQ+ clients. Participant’s responses revealed that the “most important” information they gained as a result of this in-service was: 1) definitions, language and terminology regarding the LGBTQ+ community; 2) how to create an LGBTQ+ affirmative space to do therapy; 3) the importance of not making assumptions; and 4) a better understanding of gender pronouns. This information can better inform our, and others, attempts to further expand on and improve in-services such as these.



Throughout this process, I learned a great deal about the needs of mental health practitioners in the field in regard to LGBTQ+ topics, as well as my own ability to conduct trainings and where improvement is needed for myself. I also learned how to improvise in the moment while presenting. For example, with each training I had a general idea of what I wanted to discuss; however, some of the activities had to be taken out or adjusted during the actual training itself, in addition to the original re-working of the curriculum before going into the training. Fielding questions throughout the presentation was also tricky at times as most questions I could answer; however, for some questions I was transparent around my lack of knowledge and in turn, presented resources for organizations which could provide more information regarding the question at hand.

I am grateful for this field study as it pushed me to conduct pre and post assessments, which gave me a better understanding moving forward on the efficacy of these trainings and various aspects that can be improved on or altered. Ultimately, this has only made me a better presenter, and has greatly helped my future goals of providing even better trainings to agencies across the greater Los Angeles.

As I want to continue presenting and bringing this information to various communities and organizations who do not have access to it, in the future I want to expand the curriculums to encompass material that can be applied to social workers, non-profits, and many other organizations and corporations. I will continue to change and adapt this process to fit the needs of my audience and hope to grow the curriculum to even a day-long training at some point.


This project allowed me to continue my passion for educating others about the LGBTQ+ community. These trainings were a new challenge as they were so different from any I have done. Switching the lens to training mental health professionals, instead of the one being trained, was a part of this challenge, as Tasha and I had to use what we learned in this Applied Community Psychology program to speak specifically to the context of mental health.

For me one of the most challenging aspects of this field study was the data analysis. I am fortunate to have took classes in both qualitative and quantitative methods during my undergraduate career which made the work not as difficult as it could have been, and I am glad my sociology major proved useful. Even still, I found myself facing a huge learning curve and I was stressed quite a bit about this part of the project. Ultimately, I was able to re-familiarize myself with the work I needed to do, and I was actually able to remember that I enjoy data analysis.


Dalton, J. & Wolfe, S. (2012). Competencies for Community Psychology Practice. The Community Psychologist, 45(4),7-14.

What if Art and Research Could be Used as a Form of Community Dialogue, As a Space for People with Lived Experience of Homelessness to Empower Themselves? A Reflection on Unframed Lives at the Brighton Fringe, UK

Written by Bruno de Oliveira, University of Brighton

Visual research methods are used with the aim of facilitating people who have experienced homelessness participation to voice their understandings of the current set of welfare reforms. Visual representations of social reality and experience have been debated and discussed in the social sciences. Visual research methods are a set of approaches that are used to reveal and explore the lived experiences of a group in order to investigate social issues such as drawings, collages, videos and photographs (Bates, 2013; Cannuscio, Weiss, Fruchtman, Schroeder, Weiner, & Asch, 2009; Literat, 2013; Pavesi, Denizci Guillet, & Law, 2017; Rose, 2012). Researchers and practitioners using visual methods have pointed to many ways of using visual methods in research such as films, diagrams, photographs, maps and paintings (Rose, 2012). Visual methods have an inbuilt potential to provide more layers in the portrayal of lived realities, while at the same time empowering the research participants as handle agency in their own hands. 

Rieger (1996: 5) argues that using photography in the research process can be useful to discuss social change:

“Photography is well-suited to the study of social change because of its capacity to document a scene with far greater speed and completeness than could ever be accomplished by a human observer taking notes. Visual changes can be very subtle or so complex, that they are virtually impossible to document adequately without the use of a camera, which permits ‘freezing’ a scene in extraordinary detail. Furthermore, photography can be used in many circumstances in a relatively unobtrusive manner, compared to more conventional approaches”.

Research is based on the principle of social research going beyond documenting lived-experiences by using photos as a tool of transformation by the participants within the research process (Prosser and Schwartz, 1998). The participants using photographs are part of the generation of new knowledge as they interpret their community and their lived experiences. This is a need for a process for researching social issues such as homelessness that can reveal participants’ lived experiences and meaning-making. With that in mind, photos produced by people experiencing the social issue may be used during the photo elicitation process, in most cases with captions created by the person who took the photo to provide a context. Based on this notion, the project Unframed Lives was created, designing a participatory action research project that invited those with lived experiences of homelessness to contest social discourses related to housing, austerity and homelessness.

Brighton and Hove City Council have reported that they are concerned that the number of homeless people in the area could increase further over the next few years, due to the impact of welfare reforms and the high cost of entering and sustaining accommodation in the city’s private rental sector (Brighton and Hove City Council, 2017). The city council sees approximately 4,500 people a year and gives advice and assistance to support them to resolve housing problems that may lead to homelessness. Almost 1,000 people receive a case prevention/casework service, and a further 1,000 people make a homeless application each year (The Brighton and Hove City Council: Homelessness Strategy, 2014). According to the report, there are about, 23,000 households on the housing register waiting for housing, with 1,500 in temporary accommodation. People sleeping rough are a transient population, and the city’s street services work with more than 1,000 cases each year, 20 every week. In November 2017, a snapshot of a single night estimated that there were 178 people sleeping rough in Brighton & Hove (Brighton and Hove City Council, 2017).

Unframed Lives is a photographic exhibition, panel event, and installation for Brighton Fringe. Brighton Fringe is an open-access arts festival held annually in Brighton, England. It is the largest annual arts festival in England and one of the largest fringe festivals in the world. The collective is formed of two projects; research-based photo elicitation with people with lived-experienced of homelessness under the current austerity policies co-organised by researcher Bruno De Oliveira [Photo 2], photographer Lee Radford, and MYBRIGHTON & HOVE Photo Project. For the photo-based research, they have been running photographic workshops via a partners’ organisation for those who choose to share their lived experiences, alongside building a photo elicitation research document exploring homelessness and the welfare state under austerity. It’s a creative collaboration between individuals who have experienced homelessness, artists, and researchers. Unframedlives2.png

This was a creative platform for individuals who have experienced homelessness, and a chance to share journeys and histories, experiences and commonalities. While small, this project explores how art and research can be used not only as a tool for knowledge creation, but also in-and-of-itself as a space for empowerment. We had an evening of a meaningful discussion, impactful networking, and innovative co-produced problem-solving [Photo 1]. We brought together 75 people from the local community to explore how creativity can play a role in challenging views on homelessness. The panel discussion with members of the Unframed Lives collective included artists showing their work in the exhibition; artist facilitator Lucy Groenewoud, founder of My Brighton and Hove Photo Project; and PhD Researcher Bruno De Oliveira. Greg Headley from Passage UK spoke about his perspectives of creativity and its role in supporting people affected by homelessness. Also included on the panel were Stacey Keay, Creative Studio Co-ordinator at Justlife Studios and Alex Procter, Choir Manager from Choir With No Name Brighton, and some of the photographers. During the event, people were encouraged to join the debate on social media by using #bfhope19 and #bfausteirty19.Unframedlives1.png

To conclude, people experience hardship, but hardship is not experienced in the same way. Our project sheds light that the lived experiences of hardship can results from institutional practices or be a by-product of policies. For example, part of this project focuses on the lived experiences of people who have experienced homelessness as they encountered the Universal Credit interview and outcome, the health condition of people claiming Universal Credit, and the interactions of welfare claimants with support services. This collaboration highlights how art and research can be as a space for community empowerment and dialogue.


Bates, C. (2013). Video diaries: audio-visual research methods and the elusive body. Visual studies, 28(1), 29-37.

Brighton and Hove City Council, (2017) [Accessed 06/06/2018]

Cannuscio, C. C., Weiss, E. E., Fruchtman, H., Schroeder, J., Weiner, J., & Asch, D. A. (2009). Visual epidemiology: Photographs as tools for probing street-level etiologies. Social Science & Medicine, 69(4), 553-564.

Literat, I. (2013). “A pencil for your thoughts”: Participatory drawing as a visual research method with children and youth. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 12(1), 84-98.

Pavesi, A., Denizci Guillet, B., & Law, R. (2017). Collage creation: unexplored potential in tourism research. Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 34(5), 571-589.

Prosser, J., & Schwartz, D. (1998). Photographs within the sociological research process. Image-based research: A sourcebook for qualitative researchers, 115-130.

Rose, G. (2012) Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to Researching with Visual Materials. SAGE: London

Rieger, J. (1996) Photographing Social Change. Visual Sociology. Vol. 11, No. 1, pp 5 – 49

Supervision in Community Psychology: A Scoping Review

Written by François Lauzier-Jobin and Paul Hayotte, Université du Québec à Montréal

After being neglected for decades (Hess, 2011), supervision is now taking a central place in mainstream psychology (Watkins & Milne, 2014). In contrast, supervision in community psychology (CP) has received less attention (Langa & Graham, 2011). Supervision is an essential part of developing the core competencies of community psychologists (Dalton & Wolfe, 2012). and ubiquitous practice in CP graduate programs in North American universities (Serrano-García, Pérez-Jiménez, & Rodríguez-Medina, 2017). Nevertheless, few writings seem to address the specificities of supervision in CP. This article presents the result of our efforts to better understand supervision in CP.

From a personal standpoint, as two students in the last miles of our graduate programs at Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), we are convinced of the importance of supervision in our professional development. We have experienced great formal and informal supervision surrounding our interventions, not only through individual supervision but also through our own peer group supervision. In addition, our program requires students to take a course on supervision after the completion of their first practicum (UQAM, 2019). We were looking forward to participating in this course in order to systematize our knowledge on supervision.Supervision_in_community_psychology_Figure_1.png

Unfortunately, this mandatory course is shared with students from all the specialties of psychology. Despite the good will of the teacher, we had difficulty recognizing ourselves in the principles and examples of the course. We couldn’t shake off the feeling that supervision in CP is or should be different than supervision in mainstream psychology. As a result of these experiences, we came to ask ourselves: What is supervision in CP? What should supervision be in CP? Are there any key texts on this subject? We decided to conduct a scoping review of the literature in order to find answers to these questions.


This scoping review was based on the framework outlined by Arksey & O’Malley (2005). A reflective process of literature exploration was undertaken, following the specified steps: (1) identifying the research question, (2) identifying relevant writings, (3) selecting the writings, (4) charting the data, and (5) summarizing the results.

To increase the scope of our review, two lines of exploration were adopted to discover journal articles and handbook chapters addressing the topic of CP supervisions. The addition of handbook chapters was based on the recognition that they are important resources in the education of community psychologists. Figure 1 represents the flow of key texts through identification to the final corpus.

Step 1: Identifying the Research Question

Our research question was: What are the relevant resources on supervision specific to community psychology practice? We limited ourselves to supervision in North America. We adopted the definition of Bernard and Goodyear (2014, p. 9):

Supervision is an intervention provided by a more senior member of a profession to a more junior colleague […] This relationship is evaluative and hierarchical, extends over time, and has the simultaneous purposes of enhancing the professional functioning of the more junior person(s); monitoring the quality of the professional services offered to the clients that she, he, or they see; and serving as a gatekeeper for the particular profession the supervisee seek to enter.

Step 2: Identifying Relevant Writings

To answer our research question, we identified writings through two channels, each with its own strategy. First, a search for journal articles was conducted on the PsychArticles database (American Psychological Association [APA], n.d.) with the keywords “supervision” & “community psychology”. No limitation in the years of publication was imposed. Secondly, to identify handbook chapters, we first searched all graduate-level course syllabi uploaded on the SCRA website to find which CP handbooks were cited as required readings. A total of 28 syllabi were examined. To be selected, a handbook had to be mentioned in the required readings and have “community psychology” in the title. These two processes led to the identification of 77 articles and 11 handbooks.

Step 3: Selecting the Writings

In this step, a two-stage screening process was used to identify relevant articles. In the first stage, we screened articles based on their titles and abstracts following our criteria. Articles were excluded if they did not refer to supervision in CP (based on our definition). In the second stage, potentially satisfactory articles were read in full and a summary was written for each one. Of the 77 articles initially identified, 11 were read in full.

Only handbooks cited more than once were selected. When more than one edition was available, the latest version was considered. Of the 11 handbooks initially identified, four handbooks were selected. Given its recency and importance for SCRA, the latest version of the APA Handbook (Bond et al., 2016) was added to the corpus, bringing the total to five handbooks. For these five handbooks, mentions of supervision were searched in the Table of Content and in the Index.

Step 4: Charting the Data

Even after a systematic search, we found few writings that seem to address supervision specifically to CP in North America. In fact, not one journal article or handbook chapter met our initial criteria. This finding (or the lack thereof) is important in itself: there appears to be no key text that details how to do supervision in CP in North America. For this reason, we decided to revise our method and reconsidered the writings that were previously discarded in Step 3. We broadened our criteria and thoroughly reviewed any articles which referred to interventions in CP. For handbooks, we looked at all the mentions of the word “supervision” throughout the entire text. This situation is illustrated in Figure 1.

Step 5: Summarizing the Results

In this step, journals and handbooks removed in step 3 were reexamined and every mention of the term “supervision” was analysed. One transversal observation can be made: the term supervision was often used in the literature to describe components of a psychosocial intervention. In these cases, it was not about supervision for or by community psychologists but rather supervision of teachers or children.

A majority of the remaining articles (6) mentioned supervision in a training context but offered few recommendations. A final article dealt with a format of supervision in a course where students had to perform a community intervention (Glenwick & Busch-Rossnagel, 1993). Nevertheless, we felt this article did not offer enough to support our present reflection.

In the five handbooks, a text search of the term “supervision” was carried out using the search engine in the electronic version. Again, the term was mainly used to describe the components of a psychosocial intervention or program put in place (16 out of 18 occurrences). One mention underlined the importance of peer supervision (here, in the sense of supervision of a former psychiatric patient). One notable exception is a chapter 37 the APA handbook, written by Serrano-García, Pérez-Jiménez and Rodríguez-Medina (2017), which addresses issues related to the teaching of CP. They underscore the contributions of CP in supervision and mentoring, as well as the place it takes in graduate programs.


This article explored the academic resources for supervision in CP practice in North America. The results brought us to the conclusion that there are no sufficiently developed writings addressing supervision adapted to the practice of CP.

Mentions of supervision in CP were quite sparse and the issue is not sufficiently developed either in scientific articles or handbooks. This is surprising, given that supervision in CP seems to have been an issue in CP training for decades (Lykes & Hellstedt, 1987; Rosenblum, 1973; Silverman & Fourcher, 1975; Weinstein, 1981; Zolik, Bogat, & Jason, 1983).

Two sources seem useful to fill this gap. In dozens of postgraduate programs in North America (and elsewhere), there is a wealth of unexplored experiences, expertise and best practices to be uncovered. Scientific communication and research would be an interesting avenue to develop our understanding of this matter. In addition, inspiration for practitioners might be found in complementary approaches to CP such as systemic (Douville, 2018; Holloway, 2016), ecological (Simon, Cruise, Huber, Swerdlik, & Newman, 2014), feminist (Benishek, Bieschke, Park, & Slattery, 2004; Gentile, Ballou, Roffman, & Ritchie, 2010) or critical approaches to psychology (Bates, Ramirez, & Drits, 2009).

Practice in CP and the challenges that go along with it are distinct from traditional psychology (Lavoie & Brunson, 2010) and therefore its training methods should be adapted. Given that supervision is at the center of this training, a thorough reflection should be carried out in order to ensure that future community psychologists confront theories and practices with appropriate support (Langa & Graham, 2011).


American Psychological Association [APA]. (n.d.). PsycARTICLES. Retrieved March 19, 2019, from APA website:

Arksey, H., & O’Malley, L. (2005). Scoping studies: towards a methodological framework. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 8(1), 19–32.

Bates, A. J., Ramirez, L., & Drits, D. (2009). Connecting University Supervision and Critical Reflection: Mentoring and Modeling. The Teacher Educator, 44(2), 90–112.

Benishek, L. A., Bieschke, K. J., Park, J., & Slattery, S. M. (2004). A Multicultural Feminist Model of Mentoring. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 32(extra), 428–442.

Bernard, J. M., & Goodyear, R. K. (2014). Fundamentals of clinical supervision (5. ed., Pearson new international ed). Harlow, UK: Pearson.

Bond, M. A., Serrano-García, I., & Keys, C. B. (2016). APA Handbook of Community Psychology: Volume 1: Theoretical Foundations, Core Concepts, and Emerging Challenges, Volume 2: Methods for Community ... and Issues. Washington, D.C: American Psychological Association.

Dalton, J., & Wolfe, S. (2012). Joint Column: Education Connection and The Community Practitioner. The Community Psychologist, 45(4), 7-14.

Douville, L. (2018). Le legs sur cinquante ans de la supervision clinique en approche systémique. Intervention, 148, 121-134.

Gentile, L., Ballou, M., Roffman, E., & Ritchie, J. (2010). Supervision for Social Change: A Feminist Ecological Perspective. Women & Therapy, 33, 140–151.

Glenwick, D. S., & Busch-Rossnagel, N. A. (1993). Co-teaching a joint graduate practicum in community and applied developmental psychology. Teaching of Psychology, 20(3), 141-143.

Hess, A. K. (2011). Psychotherapy supervision. In J. C. Norcross, G. R. VandenBos, & D. K. Freedheim (Eds.), History of psychotherapy: Continuity and change (2nd ed.). (pp. 703–722).

Holloway, E. L. (2016). Supervision essentials for a systems approach to supervision. American Psychological Association.

Langa, M., & Graham, T. (2011). Experiences of supervising postgraduate community psychology students at Wits university, South Africa. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 21(2), 178–191.

Lavoie, F., & Brunson, L. (2010). La pratique de la psychologie communautaire. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne, 51(2), 96-105.

Lykes, M. B., & Hellstedt, J. C. (1987). Field training in community-social psychology: A competency-based, self-directed learning model. Journal of Community Psychology, 15(3), 417–428.

Pillay, J. (2003). “Community Psychology is All Theory and No Practice”: Training Educational Psychologists in Community Practice within the South African Context. South African Journal of Psychology, 33(4), 261–268.

Rosenblum, G. (1973). Advanced training in community psychology: The role of training in community systems. Community Mental Health Journal, 9(1), 63–67.

Serrano-García, I., Pérez-Jiménez, D., & Rodríguez-Medina, S. M. (2017). Educating community psychologists in a changing world. In M. A. Bond, I. Serrano-García, C. B. Keys, & M. Shinn (Eds.), APA handbook of community psychology: Methods for community research and action for diverse groups and issues. (pp. 625–644).

Silverman, W. H., & Fourcher, L. A. (1975). A Developmental Approach to Postdoctoral Training in Community Psychology. Professional Psychology, 6, 344-349.

Simon, D. J., Cruise, T. K., Huber, B. J., Swerdlik, M. E., & Newman, D. S. (2014). Supervision in school psychology: the developmental/ecological/problem-solving model. Psychology in the Schools, 51(6), 636–646.

Université du Québec à Montréal [UQAM]. (2019). Cours PSY8414 | Consultation et supervision | UQAM. Retrieved April 12, 2019, from Étudier à l’UQAM website:

Watkins, C. E., & Milne, D. L. (2014). The Wiley International Handbook of Clinical Supervision. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

Weinstein, R. S. (1981). Teaching community intervention in a clinical program: Reflections in the themes of supervision. American Journal of Community Psychology, 9(6), 681–696.

Zolik, E. S., Bogat, G. A., & Jason, L. A. (1983). Training of interns and practicum students at community mental health centers. American Journal of Community Psychology, 11(6), 673–686.

“Am I Doing This Right?”: Helping Housing First Clients Navigate Difficulties Conducting Community-Based Participatory Research

Written by Eva McKinsey, North Carolina State University and Anna Pruitt, University of Hawai’I at Mānoa

Community-based participatory research (CBPR) and community psychology share similar values and goals, both emphasizing collaboration, power-sharing, citizen participation, and social action. Because of these shared values and CBPR’s documented benefits to marginalized communities, CBPR is becoming increasingly common in community psychology research. Much work exists discussing the difficulties of conducting CBPR, pointing to issues related to power-sharing, IRB navigation, time, managing diverse agendas, and barriers to participation (Israel, Schulz, Parker, & Becker, 1998; Lowry & Ford-Paz, 2013). However, these difficulties often are discussed from the perspective of academic researchers or higher- powered community partners. Perspectives of vulnerable group members, like individuals experiencing homelessness or severe mental illness, are rarer but important for understanding CBPR process effects (Rasmus, 2014). We discuss the difficulties that arose for our community partners—a group of Housing First “clients”—and the ways in which we as community psychologists (CPs) worked with them to address these issues. In particular, we discuss how increased community ownership of the project was associated with unique and unexpected challenges for these partners. While increased ownership and participation is a CBPR goal, researchers often neglect to consider the issues vulnerable community partners face when they take on a researcher role.

The Project

From August to November 2018, we worked with a group of Housing First (HF) clients and staff to conduct a Photovoice (PV) study as part of an ongoing five-year partnership. The current project was a follow-up to a 2016 PV study in which the same clients took photographs that represented their experiences with the program as part of a program evaluation. Aided by a Society for Community Research and Action Mini-Grant, HF clients used this second study to explore beyond their experiences with the program to address issues surrounding homelessness, such as stigma, and asked us to assist them. The study included 22 individuals: 15 clients, four staff members, and two CPs. Of the 15 clients, the majority (80%) had participated in the 2016 study. Adhering to CBPR principles, we collaborated with clients and staff in all aspects of the research process. Together we identified themes, such as past homelessness difficulties, caring for spaces and spaces that care for the person, exploring physical and social community, companionship and independence, stigma, everyday struggles, and the need for hobbies and purpose. The project results and photos were displayed at a local library, and client researchers indicated feeling empowered by their work’s potential to educate the community (see Figure 1).










Figure 1. Lived Experiences 2.0: Continued Recovery from Homelessness Exhibit, December 2018

Client Challenges

Despite these benefits, our fieldnotes and debriefing discussions with clients highlighted challenges unique to their experience as client researchers, including how to photograph abstract topics, feelings of inadequacy, and investigating topics in which they had high stakes.

How do I photograph stigma? In the planning phases of the project, client researchers discussed wanting to focus on their previous and continued experiences with stigma; however, only two client researchers took photos explicitly related to stigma (see Figure 2). HF clients expressed uncertainty as to how to photograph stigma. This challenge suggests that not every issue is photographable and that some issues may be harder to capture through photography than others (Gentry & Metz, 2017). This issue may be especially relevant for vulnerable community researchers who often find themselves at the intersection of multiple complex social issues. In fact, the more clients explored the complexity of stigma, the harder it was to photograph it. In other words, their experiences went beyond what photos could capture.










Figure 2. No this; no that. Don't do This; Don't do That.

People experiencing homelessness are often policed, told what they cannot do, but never given options for what they can do instead.

Am I doing it right? Even though the follow-up PV study was initiated by clients, and 12 client researchers were involved in the first PV study in 2016, many of these researchers were highly concerned with “doing it right.” These concerns surrounded various aspects of conducting the study, from how to take good photographs to whether or not they were taking photographs of the “right” things. One client researcher spent a month planning how he would respond to group-generated prompts (e.g., “How do we want people to see us?”). These experiences reflect previous findings that community researchers can feel insecure about their research abilities, “afraid to make mistakes and ‘look stupid’” (Case et al., 2014; Gentry & Metz, 2017). Similarly, our co-researchers questioned their qualifications. Importantly, these were seasoned client researchers whose concerns increased the more they took ownership of the project.

What if I already know what I want the “findings” to be? Perhaps most challenging, our co-researchers expressed difficulty researching a topic in which they were so invested. For them, the stakes were high, and they knew the outcome that they wanted to achieve—to advocate for themselves and other persons still experiencing homelessness. This circumstance often translated into the clients knowing what themes they wanted to discuss prior to developing the research questions and prompts, which led to somewhat of a reversed research process—developing study themes first instead of the research question. They were also concerned with the dissemination of the results, worrying that their work would not be taken seriously or worse, would lead to negative outcomes for them and others in their situation. As one client researcher stated, if the program lost funding and he ended up back on the street, he would “just die.”

Responding to Challenges

We addressed these challenges in several ways. First, we allowed for a significant time extension. Whereas the project plan predicted completion of the study within eight group discussion sessions, the project lasted four months. One reason for extending the project timeline was because it took several weeks or longer for some client researchers to gain the confidence to fully participate in the data collection and analysis. Each week, client researchers indicated they needed more time to take pictures to better represent the prompts and themes. We also reminded the group that PV recognizes that the discussion of the group’s topics of concern was just as important as the actual photographs taken to alleviate concern over having to photograph difficult topics the “right” way.

One of the most challenging aspects was the tendency for clients to come up with themes they knew they wanted to be central in the study findings before developing research questions. To address this issue, we decided to remain flexible in research methodology. We allowed client researchers to decide the purpose of the study while recognizing that, in doing so, we were also allowing for potential bias in the study findings. One way we attempted to counter this challenge was by continuing our own analysis of group meeting transcripts. We identified themes prominent in group discussions but never explicitly identified and bring them to the attention of the client researchers. For instance, only through analysis of transcripts did we recognize the prominent theme of “everyday struggles.” Clients were hesitant to identify such negative themes themselves because of its potential negative implications for the HF program.

Additionally, we continuously discussed and investigated potential causes of the client researchers’ lack of confidence and concern with “doing it right.” We discussed the possibility that the client researchers’ lack of confidence in fully participating may arise from the practice of assigning a role to individuals who do not know how to assume that role—a situation that could potentially be overwhelming and stressful for those individuals. In recognizing that conducting research is not an easy undertaking, we better understood how assuming the role of “researcher” for a four-month long project could be an intimidating task for HF clients. This role requires knowledge, skills, and practice that the client researchers were still developing. It was our responsibility as CPs to share such knowledge through continued lessons on the research process.

Perhaps most importantly, we continually emphasized the division of skills and knowledge as opposed to the hierarchy of skills and knowledge amongst all project researchers. Although we, as trained researchers, were more knowledgeable of research methods, the client researchers were far more knowledgeable of the study’s subject matter—HF clients’ daily lived experiences, transition to housing, and issues surrounding homelessness—making them the experts on the study’s topics and themes.  Reminding client researchers of their expertise on such matters as well as voicing the lack of lived experience of these issues by the trained researchers helped build the client researchers’ confidence in participating and contributing to the study. 


CPs would do well to recognize that community partners face unique challenges related to stepping into the researcher role. While general CBPR challenges, challenges for traditional researchers, and barriers to participation for community members have been explored, less consideration has been given to the challenges that arise from participation itself—particularly for vulnerable co-researchers. Assuming the role of researcher, while desirable, comes with unique challenges for vulnerable researchers that should not be ignored.


Case, A. D., Byrd, R., Claggett, E., DeVeaux, S., Perkins, R., Huang, C., …Kaufman, J. S. (2014). Stakeholders’ perspectives on community-based participatory research to enhance mental health services. American Journal of Community Psychology, 54, 397—408.

Gentry, J., & Metz, B. (2017).  Adjusting Photovoice for Marginalized Indigenous Women: Eliciting Ch’orti’ Maya Women’s Perspectives on Health in Guatemala. Human Organization, 251-263.

Israel, A. I. , Schulz A,. J., Parker, E. A., Becker, A. B. (1998). Review of community‐based research: Assessing partnership approaches to improve public health. Annual Review of Public Health, 19, 173—202.

Lowry, K. W., & Ford-Paz, R. (2013). Early Career Academic Researchers and Community-Based Participatory Research: Wrestling Match or Dancing Partners? Clinical & Translational Science, 6(6), 490—492.

Rasmus, S. (2014). Indigenizing CBPR: Evaluation of a community-based and participatory research process implementation of the Elluam Tungiinun (Toward Wellness) Program in Alaska. American Journal of Community Psychology, 54(1-2), 170—179.

International Discourse about Social Justice and Peace

Written by Yolanda Saurez-Balcazar, University of Illinois at Chicago; Toshi Sasao, International Christian University; and Fabricio Balcazar, University of Illinois at ChicagoSaurez-Balcazar_Photo.jpg

Center, first row right to left - Toshi Sasao, Fabricio, and Yolanda with students and faculty from International Christian University, Tokyo, 2019

Discourses about social justice and peace are taking place across the globe, particularly when divisiveness seems to rule notwithstanding that many vulnerable populations are experiencing violations to their human rights. Yolanda and Fabricio had the opportunity to engage in such a discourse when recently visiting with Toshi Sasao and his students at International Christian University, the Peace Research Institute, and the Community Research and Action Group in Tokyo, Japan. They conducted a workshop on community-based participatory research and social justice, emphasizing disability and inclusion, to an interdisciplinary and international group of students and professionals.

Workshop participants varied from community psychologists, educational/clinical psychologists, nursing and medical professionals, graduate students in education, psychology, and peace studies, Rotary Peace Fellows, and undergraduate students. Participants represented a variety of countries such as Japan, China, Korea, Colombia, Canada, New Zealand, Kenya, South Sudan, and South Africa. All workshop participants were working on social justice topics, including community participation and isolation of older adults, inclusion of people with disabilities, integration of immigrants and newcomers into Japanese culture, the well-being of Zainichi Korean residents and their families, and empowerment issues with Japanese-Brazilian factory workers, among many others. The theme of social justice was at the core of our conversations. Social justice is a concept that we often refer to as community psychologists to capture the essence of our work and an agenda item for social and political activists and advocates.

Japan, for example, is currently one of the safest places to live in the world, in the eyes of Yolanda and Fabricio, and its traditional spiritual culture reflects a philosophy that promotes the concepts of harmony, reconciliation and peace. Acknowledging its historical contradictions (Japan was involved in acts against other countries), Japan has increasingly been playing a role in promoting social justice and peace in countries beset by conflicts. At the government level, several initiatives have been implemented, including providing financial scholarships to students in displaced situations, especially from Africa and South East Asia, and to female students who have been denied opportunities for education. So, what does social justice imply for community psychology researchers in Japan? That was part of the dialogue that Yolanda and Fabricio had with Toshi and his students (see a photograph from the event in late March 2019). Based on these conversations, below we propose a social justice framework.

A Social Justice Framework


Figure 1. A Social Justice Framework


Social justice is a political and philosophical, broad, complex, and multifaceted concept that speaks to the opportunities and privileges that people have within a society (Braveman & Suarez-Balcazar, 2009). Social justice is the first statement mentioned on the Society for Community Research and Action (SCRA) website to characterize our purpose and is also used to describe one of our activities in terms of “fight oppression, work to reduce social inequalities, and work with marginalized people toward their empowerment” ( Social Justice encompasses interrelated principles such as equity, human rights, empowerment, fairness, and access to resources among others (Fondacaro & Weinberg, 2002).  Social justice and equity have also been subject to diverse philosophical positions and critical inquiry on the basis of moral judgment (Estlund, 2009). Social justice definitions have also been informed by discourses on equity (Corning, 2015); critical theory (de Vita, 2014); and social and economic injustices and structural racism (Wolff et al., 2017). Based on contributions from early philosophers, the concept of social justice has focused on the moral and philosophical meaning of individual rights, free will, and democratic participation (Lowery, 1998).

Several models of social justice have been proposed and the literature on the topic is vast, therefore, and by no means is this a literature review of social justice models, neither a comprehensive discussion on the topic. This is a brief reflection on and a suggested social justice framework that is informed by the values and principles of Community Psychology, some of the literature on the topic, and by our experience in Japan. The framework incorporates the principles of access to goods, services and resources; equity as people’s needs are met; protection of human rights; participation and inclusion in all aspects of society; freedom from any type of oppression (marginalization, violence, cultural imperialism, exploitation, powerlessness, culture of silence and violence, Young 2004); and empowerment (see Figure 1).

Unfortunately, these are some of the values that are being challenged by the growing income inequality in many countries in the world, including United States.  In fact, these growing disparities are generating the opposite to what these principles are trying to pursue. In the United States, for instance, one of the most powerful counties in the world, the income, social, health and participation inequalities are significantly widening. These contradictions make it even more critical for community psychologist to continue to pursue change from within. As has been emphasized by many community psychology researchers, these principles are essential for the promotion of social justice and social transformation. The framework below captures the interconnectedness of the principles and the ongoing dynamic and interactive nature of its complexity. 

We also believe that for community psychologists to change the landscape of social injustices, a Community-based Participatory Research (CBPR) approach is warranted.  Community psychologists are well prepared to promote social justice in the research and action work being undertaken in the field. In particular, scholars have underscored the use of community-based participatory research (CBPR) approaches to promote social justice (e.g., Evans, Rosen, & Nelson, 2014).  We have a long history of contributions to the literature on CBPR (see Jason and Glenwick, 2012). Importantly, a CBPR approach needs to be transformative, novel, strength-based, and emancipatory – meaning that stakeholders are significantly involved as collaborators and co-creators of knowledge, and that our research is driven by their ideas and their concerns. We also acknowledge that for some researchers, inviting community residents and individuals experiencing injustices, to be co-creators of knowledge can be challenging, especially if the collaborators have been oppressed all their lives and lack critical awareness. This, in turn, requires additional steps to promote critical dialogue directed at increasing participant’s critical awareness and understanding of their own capacity to transform their social reality.  Paulo Freire (1970), a Brazilian educator well-known for his work on promoting critical awareness, eloquently referred to the role of the educator as the agent and facilitator of critical consciousness and promoter of social change.  

Yet, it remains uncertain how we promote social justice in the long run, how it becomes sustainable over time, and what strategies and methods generate the best results. We argue for a balanced approach in which we carefully analyze social problems, listen to the voices of people in context and invite them to the table to identify solutions and alternatives that may be essential to bring about desired change (Sasao, 2018).

Social justice promotes peace (Galtung, 1996).  Peace, according to Galtung – is not only the absence of conflict, the fact that groups that differ in views and values and engage in dialogue, free of violence and conflict, but the promotion of peaceful contexts and well-being as it is clearly articulated in our community psychology research and practice. We strive to promote societies in which people’s rights are protected, in which conflict is resolved through dialogue and mediation and not with violence or intimidation.

We argue that we need to be more critical of what is and is not community-based participatory research that promotes social justice, in particular, research that transforms communities and transform us as researchers; research that enhances equity, access to resources and goods, human rights, empowerment, and frees people from oppression.  As we apply these concepts, we may ask ourselves how are we liberating individuals from oppression and how are we creating opportunities to develop democratic empowerment? 

This was just the beginning of our conversation with the students from Tokyo. As you can see, we all have much to discuss and do. We were very pleased to see the interest and motivation of the workshop participants and we are confident that they are going to try their best to generate some change, the same way that we are all trying our best to promote change in our lives and the lives of those that we teach and those with whom we collaborate with in the community.


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