Therapists as Agents of Social Change

Report
Therapists as
Agents of Social Change
“Nobody can go back and start a new
beginning, but anyone can start today and
make a new ending.”
- Maria Robinson
Questions of the Day
• “Objective good health is related to
happiness”
– Do you agree that health, education, climate, race
and gender do not matter much for happiness?
– Are changing social conditions impractical?
– Do citizens of the USA tend to say they are happy
even when they aren’t? Why or why not?
Knee-Jerk of Community Psych
• Reflexivity:
– the subjectivity and social location of community
psychologists in their roles as social interventionists,
including the privileges that they enjoy
• “One cannot be a community psychologist in
one’s public life at work and then go home to
one’s private life and ‘turn off’ the values that
inform one’s work as a community psychologist”
– (Nelson & Prelletensky (2005), p152)
Truth or Conscientization
• Conscientization:
– The process of gaining awareness of the conditons
that oppress people
• Praxis:
– Critical “‘reflection and action upon the world to
transform it’” (Freire, 1970)
What Does Praxis Look Like?
Cultural
Context
Vision
Actions
Constituencies
Needs
How Should Praxis Look?
Cultural
Context
Vision
Actions
Needs
Constituencies
Praxis makes perfect
Dimensions
State of Affairs
Subject of Study
Outcome
Vision/values
What is the ideal
vision? What values
guide the vision?
Social organizations
that promote a
balance among values
for personal,
relational, and
collective well-being
Vision of justice, wellbeing and
empowerment
Cultural/Social context What are the facts?
The “true” state of
affairs?
Psychology of
individual and
collective
Identification of
prevailing norms and
social conditions
oppressing minorities
Needs
How is the state of
affairs perceived and
experienced
Grounded theory and
lived experiences
Identification of needs
of oppressed groups
Action
What can be done to
change undesirable
state of affairs
Theories of personal
and social change
Personal and social
change strategies
The Making of a Community
Psychologist
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•
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Experiences
Reflexes
Accountability
Outcomes
Social Norms and Abnorms
“Rocking the boat” Attitude
PRAXIS = FACILITATOR
Core Ingredients
Competencies
Skills
Assumptions
Understand the central roles of power in the social world;
frame problems in terms of power inequities; challenge
victim-blaming assumptions; focus on strengths
Values
Clarify the vision and values on which interventions are
based; advocate for values that promote liberation from
oppression and personal, relational, and collective well-being
Principles and Theories Understand and apply CP concepts and theories (prevention,
empowerment, sense of community); use ecological and
system approaches to intervention focusing on group,
organizational, community and social change, rather than
individualist approaches
Professional Ingredients
Competencies
Skills
Personal Effectiveness
Personal reflection and conscientization;
communication skills (basic attending and
influencing, assertiveness, leadership, setting
boundaries)
Partnership and Collaboration
Consultation; group process facilitation; organization
development; community development; partnering
with diverse stakeholders, including disadvantaged
people; team-building
Technical Competencies
Project management; grant-writing; oral and written
communication skills
Focus
• Ameliorate vs Transform
– Band-aid vs. Major Surgery
– First Order Change vs. Second Order Change
• Ameliorative:
– an approach to intervention that focuses on improvement
rather than fundamental change of underlying assumptions,
values and power structures, also known as first-order change
• Transformative:
– an approach to intervention that focuses on fundamental
change of underlying assumptions, values and power structures;
also known as second order change
The Characters of Change
Characteristics
Ameliorative
Transformative
Framing of
Issues/Problems
Technical and rational problem
solving
Terms of oppression and inequities
of power
Values
Holistic, health, caring and
compassion
Self-determination, participation,
social justice, respect for diversity,
accountability
Levels of Analysis
Ecological perspective; improving
personal well-being
Terms of power dynamics;
improving collective well-being
Prevention Focus
Enhancing personal skills, selfesteem and support systems
Reduction of systemic risk factors
(racism, sexism, poverty)
Desired Outcomes
Personal enhanced well-being
(health, choice)
Group enhanced well-being (power
and justice)
Invention Process
May be ‘expert-driven’ but includes Partnership with community and
stakeholders
stakeholders; local ownership of
change process
Roles for
Community
Psychologists
Professional expertise to solve
problems
Work with oppressed groups to
challenge the status quo and create
social change
Promoting Healthful Change
• Whose interests will be served?
• Is there value congruence between the
change agent and those with whom he/she
will be consulting?
• What form will the intervention take (eg
action research, consultation, skills training)?
• What previous interventions have been tried
and with what success?
What’s the Alternative?
• Alternative Settings:
– Voluntary associations created and controlled by
the stakeholders who share a problem or
oppressive condition
– Eg – Self-help, mutual aid organizations
• If a social condition is not deemed oppressive
does it need changing?
Tips and Tricks for
Facilitating Social Change
1. Who’s in the room? What kinds? Types? Shapes? Colors?
Class?
2. How often do YOU speak?
3. Are you ACTIVELY listening?
4. Support others by soliciting their thoughts and ideas
5. Whose work and contribution gets recognized?
6. Work against creating a structure that alienates some of
the stakeholders
7. Ask what needs to be done vs. asking others to do
something
8. Social change is a process – a complex, laborious process
Social Interventions
• Is social service the same as social change?
• The belly of the beast: outsiders or insiders?
• Challenging the status quo: linking the immediate
concerns of citizens with larger structures of
inequality
– Promotion of personal, relational, and collective wellbeing
– Balancing self-determination, caring, compassion and
respect for diversity with principles of social justice
and sense of community
Examples of
Ameliorative vs Transformative Social Interventions
Setting / Role
Ameliorative
Transformative
Government / Insider
Contribute to population
health
Prevent epidemics
Social supports
Public education
Provide basic necessities
Support full employment
Equity legislation
Progressive taxation system
Eliminate poverty
Universal health insurance
Universal family support
SMOs and NGOs / Outsider
Demand more services
Pressure to improve
community
Increased participation in local
politics
Funds for charity, research and
demonstration projects
Oppose economic colonialism
Resist globalization
Fight exploitation
Support networks of
resistance
Depowerment of the powerful
Create links of solidarity
Sustainable communities
Promote culture of equality
Teach psychopolitical
awareness
Import Trivia
• 1% reduction in GDP eliminates gains in
reducing urban poverty experienced during a
3.7% growth in GDP
• Recession has a particularly strong effect on
inequality
• Growth by itself, without appropriate social
policies to ensure fairness in the way its
benefits are distributed, brings little benefit to
health equity
Strengths and Limitations
Characteristic
Government
SMOs and NGOs
Strengths
Breath
Depth
Length
Sustainability
Transformative
Participatory
Integrative
Weaknesses
Ameliorative
Conservative
Regressive
Unaccountable
Contradictory
Transitory
Insular and internecine
Indifferent to diversity
Roots of Social Movements
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Suffering / Deprivation
Consciousness Raising
Congealing Events
Political Opportunities
Community Psychologists Working in
Government Organizations
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Bureaucracy
Paperwork
Limited, Defined Scope
Measureable (Ameliorative)
Less an agent of change than an agent of
policies
Community Psychologists in
SMOs and NGOs
• Limits on personal income
• Inefficient ways of working
• Diverse educational levels of coworkers and
staff members
• Diverse cultural experiences may create
misunderstandings and tension
• Compromising one’s own personal values?
• Fractured goals
Role of Community Psychologist in
Social Organizations
• Facilitate:
– Social change
– People power / empowerment
– Collective action
How to Prepare as a Facilitator for
Social Change
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Multiple sources of support
Congruence and confluence of interests
Communications network
Organizational effectiveness
Resource mobilization
Collective Action Strategies
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Build Recruitment because Size Matters
Media and Marketing Campaigns
Create Coalitions of Intersecting Interests
Create Lobbying and Political Influence Efforts
Protest the Status Quo
Changing Vocabulary
• Alternative Setting: settings that are designed to, and are often in
opposition to, mainstream or traditional settings
• Ameliorative: an approach to intervention that focuses on improvement
rather than fundamental change of underlying assumptions, values and
power structures, also known as first-order change
• Framing: reframing how social issues are conceptualized or understood;
transformative interventions involve reframing the way issues are typically
understood
• Praxis: the integration of theory and practice in social intervention; it
includes attention to cultural context, vision, action and needs
• Reflexivity: the subjectivity and social location of community psychologists
in their roles as social interventionists, including the privileges that they
enjoy
• Social Intervention: one who engages in transformative social change, as
contrasted with social technician and social reformer roles
• Social Movement Organization: an organization that is specifically
dedicated to transformative social change
• Transformative: an approach to intervention that focuses on fundamental
change of underlying assumptions, values and power structures; also
known as second order change
Intervention Vocabulary
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Ameliorative: interventions purposeful activities designed to alleviate the resutls
of living in unjust and prejudicial societies
Coalition: a group of groups dedicated to achieving social, economic, or health
goals for a particular sector of the population
Health Promoter: person assigned the role of improving an aspect of the
population’s health
Human Development: refers to comprehensive improvement in the education,
health, housing, social and economic conditions of a population
Internecine: struggles within social movements or political parties
NGOs: non-government organizations dedicated to a particular cause
Program Developer: person collaborating with others in developing a
governmental or non-governmental project
Resource Mobilization: infusion of material intellectual and human resources into
social change efforts
Social Interventions: are intentional processes designed to affect the well-being of
the population through changes in values, policies, programs, distribution of
resources, power differentials and cultural norms
SMOs: social movement organizations dedicated to a particular cause
Transformative Interventions: intentional processes designed to alter the
conditions that lead to suffering

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