Community Psychology Practice Competencies: some perspectives from the UK

Jacqueline Ackhurst, Carolyn Kagan, Rebecca Lawthom, Michael Richards

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Within global north spaces, the outcomes-based approach to programme delivery in higher education and the focus on accountability in professional training has increasingly led to calls for competency frameworks to be developed. However, the paradigm underpinning competencies as applied in higher education needs further examination. This paper aims to consider the technicist roots of the concept and the translation of derivatives of behavioral economics to critical community psychology. We distinguish competences from competency, noting the potential risks of a fragmentary approach and the mismatch between individually-based assessments and the participatory and egalitarian principles espoused by community psychology. Drawing from discussions and workshops with postgraduate students and community psychologists in the UK during early 2015, the contributions and distinctive nature of community psychology training in comparison with other disciplines will be highlighted. Proposals for alternative frameworks will be explored, emphasising the need for these to incorporate flexibility and diversity, and to be more holistic (rather than atomistic, as lists of competencies often are); with emphases on community-based rather than individualised principles and values. Consideration will also be given to capabilities that relate both to functions and to freedoms, and to more process-oriented qualities to enable ongoing development. The imperatives to foreground social justice and to enable reflexive thinking and action will be emphasised, leading to interactive and inclusive processes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
JournalGlobal Journal of Community Psychology Practice
Issue number4
Early online date1 Dec 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Dec 2016


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