What attracted you to community psychology?
I was introduced to community psychology through a module taught by Dr Ronni Greenwood in the M.A. (conversion) in Psychology at the University of Limerick. I was immediately attracted to community psychology, as it aligned with my values and research interests more than traditional approaches to psychology that I had encountered. I had previously studied Applied Theatre in the UK and had spent several years working as a facilitator of drama and storytelling for community youth groups, so I had an interest in community-based participatory methodologies. Community psychology represents an exciting approach to psychology that allows me to draw on my experience and design research and interventions that can address important social issues.
What makes community psychology special?
The ecological approach and the principles that underpin community psychology make it special. Appreciating the interdependence of individuals and systems (ideally) allows community psychology research and practice to identify and address the root causes of social issues.
Please tell us about an event that was formative for your engagement with community psychology.
Attending the virtual International Conference on Community Psychology in 2020 was a formative experience, in terms of connecting me with an inspiring and supportive academic network of like-minded people. As community psychology is still quite marginal in Ireland, opportunities such as the International Conference on Community Psychology have been invaluable for me to make international links.
How might community psychology be more influential at policy level in Europe?
This is a difficult question, but I feel that greater visibility and awareness of community psychology in general could increase the fields’ impact on policy-making. There seems to be a lack of understanding among the lay population about the value of applying ecological principles to addressing social issues, and an over-focus on individualised interventions.
How would you characterize a “successful” intervention in community psychology?
An intervention that improves the well-being of individuals and settings through empowering approaches that have positive ‘ripple effects’ on wider society.
Finally, a song? One that symbolizes what community psychology is about for you.
Mutual Core by Bjork. The lyrics can be found here.