Community psychology interventions are dominated with the opposition of individually-oriented ameliorative approach and ecologically-oriented transformative approach. The goal of the ameliorative approach is to create change within an existing system in order to promote well-being, while the transformative approach seeks to profoundly change the system and thus to improve the relations within the community (Nelson & Prilleltensky, 2010).
Withing the ameliorative approach, the focus of a psychologist is the rational problem-solving. A community psychologist applying this approach is likely to promote individual- and family-based reactive interventions that involve self-help, psychotherapy and skill building (Evans, Henlin & Prilleltensky, 2007). These actions can be efficient to improve the functioning of a client on the individual and personal level. For example, when dealing with the issue of drug abuse among teenagers, a community psychologist will primarily evaluate its prevalence and causes to design an intervention and prevention that would help people in the risk group to make more healthy life choices, for example, cognitive behavioral therapy combined with skill building activities.
A community psychologist who practices transformative approach is more likely to apply proactive and collaborative actions that involve advocacy, consciousness raising, community empowerment and driving policy change (Evans, Henlin & Prilleltensky, 2007). These actions do not merely address the immediate psychological problems of the clients, but also enhance their access to vital services, e.g. health care, public education and transportation. Within this approach, the psychologist can use such research tools as class analysis and the analysis of power dynamics (Nelson & Prilleltensky, 2010).
Therefore, the psychologist who examines drug abuse among teenagers would analyze the broad socioeconomic factors that contribute to its prevalence and drive for action to reduce their adverse effect. For example, if the psychologist reveals that gang activity is a major factor in this issue, they will promote awareness and community collaboration to fight it, with the involvement of police. Also, they will focus on raising awareness about the harm of drugs in schools and colleges.
- Evans, S.D., Henlin, C.E., & Prilleltensky, I. (2007). Blending ameliorative and transformative approaches in human service organizations: A case study. Journal of Community Psychology 35(3), 329-246.
- Nelson, G. & Prilleltensky, I. (2010). Community psychology: In pursuit of liberation and well-being. Basingstone, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.