Community psychology is a branch of psychology that explores the interactive relationships between individuals and their communities. Community psychology attempts to understand and improve the quality of life of individuals and communities through collaborative research and action. But to talk about community psychology, we must first be clear about and delve into the concept of community.
Community and sense of community
The concept of community and the sense of community are key elements in community psychology; They are therefore subject and object of study of this discipline. We will see some definitions according to authors.
The definition of community according to Maritza Montero (community psychologist), proposes it as a group of individuals in constant transformation and evolution , who in their interrelation generate belonging, social identity and awareness of themselves as a community ; which strengthens them as unity and social potentiality. This social and dynamic group shares problems, interests in a given time and space, making everyday life and reality.
According to some authors, what characterizes the community is cohesion, solidarity, knowledge, the treatment of its members and the specific forms of organization that they adopt.
M. Montero differentiates community from the sense or feeling of community, and adds that both are part of the same phenomenon and are complex social objects with multiple determinations. It defines the sense of community as a fuzzy, mobile and constantly elaborating whole.
It is often considered that there is community where there is a sense of community and vice versa, there is a sense of community where there is community. According to Sarason (emeritus professor in psychology) the sense of community is like the perception of similarity with others, it is the feeling of being part of a larger structure.
McMillan and Chavis , for their part, add that this sense of community is the feeling that members matter to each other and to the group; and a shared faith that members’ needs will be met through their commitment to be together.
Based on this definition, he points out four components of the sense of community: membership, influence, integration and satisfaction of needs, commitment and shared emotional ties.
- Membership encompasses history, social identity, commitment, common symbols, security, emotional support, personal investment, rights and duties, rewards, and limits, among other concepts.
- The influence on the other hand, referring to the ability to induce to act in a certain way, is the feeling that your opinion will be heard, giving rise to the two-way information.
- The integration and satisfaction of needs are the benefits that an individual can receive for being part of a community, such as: status, popularity, respect, material or psychological help, etc.
- Commitment and shared emotional ties; They are knowing individuals, sharing, maintaining close and effective relationships, knowing that they are counted on in moments of joy and sadness. The latter is the fundamental component when defining the sense of community, since -according to the aforementioned authors- it is based precisely on affective relationships, on affectivity, an essential component when we speak of a sense of community.
The community psychologist goes beyond an individual approach, it tries to integrate social, cultural, economic, political, environmental and international influences to promote positive change and health at the individual and community levels.
They seek to expand their help beyond traditional psychotherapy, using scientific methods to understand the influence of the social environment on mental health.
According to Rebellato , when faced with field work, every community psychologist experiences a shock or contradiction that he calls “culture shock” or “ethical-cultural shock” . That is, he experiences the contradiction in his role, between what his personality structure is and the reality of the subjects with whom he is going to work.
This “culture shock” awakens unconscious and conscious substrates of the professional’s personality , such as: feelings of guilt, anguish, desires for power, reaffirmation of their professional role, need for assessment, among others.
But if this situation is not the object of self-reflection, as Rebellato says, a conflict is hidden that is purely a conflict between different worlds and different logics. And like all repressed conflict, it generates ambiguous situations and false practical solutions to their professional role. Meanwhile, from the psychological point of view, generate spaces for reflection on what this shock implies a healthy exercise.
The relationship between personality and community
There is a correlation between personality formation and community. Kazmierz Dabrowski and Erich Fromm (developmental psychologists) emphasize the role of community in personality development.
The community is a structure of personal relationships, a total order that is determined, supported and fulfilled by the people who make it up. In this community there is no isolated person who then enters into relationship with the world of human coexistence (community). People are born and develop among other people, that is why our personality is also formed based on the community.
We are largely a product of the circumstances around us. Even if our genetics determined all the traits of our personality, people will still change, adapt and evolve according to the needs that arise.
The requirements that constitute the community are, to a large extent, shapers of the personality of a subject, in the words of Luis.J. Guerrero. From an early age, children are required by their parents or by their educators to carry out certain tasks , to develop their own capacity, to train themselves.
We are not talking about impositions of others or mandates of authority. We are talking, on the contrary, of requirements to the own determination, that is to say, of requests and urges to fulfill by himself the tasks of the life. Even the simplest question is already a form of request, since each question expects an answer, and each answer is a call to the activity of the person questioned.
In general terms, we can say that all education is a system of requirements, since it does not function as a simple compulsive instrument, but rather works as an organization of the stimuli and demands of the community.
Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.