What attracted you to community psychology?
Even as a psychology student, I was fascinated by community psychology (CP). I remember studying for the exam and feeling exactly: “Wow, this is exactly the psychology I want to deepen and practise!” I studied Donata Francescato’s manual and took the class with Piero Amerio, so it was really easy to become intrigued…
What makes community psychology special for you?
I found that CP allowed me to combine my interest in collective phenomena with the psychological perspective and with some values that I had chosen as the basis for my life.
What makes CP so special for me is the possibility to have an understanding and a way to act in almost every situation of ordinary (e.g. stressful situations, collaboration, participation, healthy behaviour…) and extraordinary life (e.g., pandemic, war, climate crisis…). I am so glad to have a psychological theoretical framework that is applicable to many different problems and helps me to think in terms of both problem setting and problem solving.
Also, I was and am in love with the idea (and effort) of moving “from case to problem”: I am convinced that psychology cannot limit itself to chasing single cases (both individual and collective), but should work to limit/eliminate the causes that generate suffering, that hinder balance and harmony (within people, between people, between people and other living beings…), and to improve the resources of people, groups, communities, contexts to achieve goals related to peace, enriching coexistence, flourishing – not in a kind of “positivity at any cost”, but in awareness of power injustice and any other kind of inequality.
Please tell us about an event that was formative for your engagement with community psychology.
A year before I started my studies at the university when I was still living in my beautiful village by the sea, I read an interview with Professor Piero Amerio, who became my mentor, in the newspaper. He had been interviewed on the occasion of the opening of the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Turin. He presented social psychology as an advantage of the new degree programme.
My plans were more oriented toward a career as a social practitioner than as a clinical psychologist. And this interview was like a confirmation. I will be in the right place to do the right thing. (I still have that newspaper clipping.) Now, many years later, I am an Associate Professor of Social and Community Psychology at the University of Turin.
In your assessment, what is the future of community psychology in Europe?
I hope that CP in Europe will become less and less subject to the classical clinical view and evolve into a psychology of peace, well-being and sustainability (in the broadest sense). I would be happy if European colleagues could help shape the scientific (I am thinking, for example, of the large European grants) and political decisions of our continent, which could restore an important tradition related to the psychological study of relationships and social phenomena from the point of view of subjectivity and the social construction of reality.
What advice would you give an Early Career Researcher starting out as a community psychologist in Europe today?
I would suggest to build a solid and broad theoretical base, along with a relevant methodological knowledge, but to avoid choosing a single perspective or topic. Instead, I would suggest building on this foundation to be curious, to study persistently and to look around, with scientific and human curiosity and with empathy and a desire to make things better. I would also suggest travelling through countries and taking the best from each encounter.
Please provide a painting or mural that, for you, symbolizes what CP is about.
Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Effetti del Buon Governo in città, 1338 40,
Sala della Pace, Palazzo Pubblico, Siena
[I asked to have it on the first book I edited, about social work, many (!) years ago.]