Community Health Psychology Defined

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Community psychology (CP), as a discipline, began in 1965 in Swampscott, Massachusetts, during a meeting of psychologists discussing training for community mental health. This group identified CP to be distinct from clinical psychology and community mental health. The original focus was on social and cultural influences on mental health, and it has since widened, with CP now being a discipline within psychology that examines ecological issues beyond the individual level, explores the value of diversity, challenges narrow unidimensional measures of health, and validates psychologists as agents of social changes. A public health approach was used to help provide the burgeoning field with an alternative to the medical model used in clinical psychology that focuses on illness, treatment, and recovery. This helped establish prevention as a founding principle of the field. CP has become a science of prevention, community intervention, and social epidemiology. Themes of the field include ecological perspectives, cultural relevance and diversity, and empowerment. Ecological perspectives emphasize social and environmental contexts at the individual, organizational, and community levels of analysis, and apply principles of resource mobilization, interdependence, and adaptation. The following intervention and evaluation projects exemplify efforts in community psychology that have contributed to public health and welfare. The community lodge system was an alternative community living and employment setting for individuals with serious mental illness. The setting provided residents an opportunity to progressively operate and own their lodge including their own janitorial business. Another example is the Juvenile Diversion project. This project provided an alternative program for youth who would have otherwise entered the juvenile court system or a social service agency. The
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