Community psychology is a multidisciplinary approach within psychology that focuses on how people relate to society. It considers the impact of local communities and society at large on each individual’s mental and physical health and wellness.
This psychology specialization takes a holistic approach to understanding what shapes people’s lives. It centers on the idea that psychology can move beyond considering only the individual or family when assessing mental and physical health.
Community psychology promotes social justice and draws on sociology, political science, public health, social psychology, and cross-cultural psychology. Community psychology aims to help people understand their position in society and support the development of more active community members.
Point Park University’s online Master of Arts in Community Psychology prepares graduates for work in this emerging field in research, community assistance, and clinical practice.
Defining Community Psychology
According to the website Community Psychology, community psychologists consider all the influences that create an individual, including cultural, economic, social, political, and environmental factors.
Achieving that goal requires applying action-oriented research focusing on developing, implementing, and evaluating programs. Community psychologists build their work on a scientific foundation that helps them better understand how the social environment influences individual health and wellness. They also develop strong relationships with community members, groups, and organizations that concentrate on addressing social problems.
Community psychologists may focus on theoretical research, although they typically mix an applied and theoretical approach.
Career Paths for Community Psychologists
Community psychologists can follow a wide variety of career paths using the skills and knowledge gained in an online graduate program. Professionals find careers as consultants, educators, professors, program directors, policy developers, program and policy evaluators, and researchers. They typically work for community organizations, government agencies, or universities.
According to Very Well Mind, these career paths address several common traits and concerns. These include:
- Civic participation
- Building a sense of community
- Problem prevention
- Health promotion
- Individual wellness
Community psychologists take on projects that explore and attempt to improve an individual’s relationship with society. For example, they might research community problems and assess individual needs, develop methods to better connect disadvantaged individuals to their community, or better understand social issues among minority groups.
The Point Park University Community Psychology Program
In the MA in Community Psychology program at Point Park University, graduates learn the skills and knowledge needed to support individuals and families who want to improve their lives. The Point Park program is unique in that it incorporates the university’s theoretical approach based on existential-humanistic, feminist, critical, and liberation social psychologies.
Courses in the program include:
- Foundations of Community Psychology
- Humanistic and Phenomenological Approaches
- Psychopathology in the Context of Society and Culture
- Social Psychology and Cultural Transformation
- Childhood & Society
- Critical Race Studies
- LGBTQ+ Studies
- Integrative Approaches to Mental Health
- Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods
The program emphasizes an understanding of how social and cultural influence mental health and wellbeing, recognition of diverse ways of living, regard for a diversity of values, and respect for the rights of all humans.
Graduates emerge ready to work in community psychology. This growing field strives to improve the lives of those living in disadvantaged communities.