You are what you read. Although this is a statement that’s rather overused, it cannot be overstressed in the field of community psychology. To put it in simple terms, you can hardly qualify to be a community psychologist unless you read extensively not only when taking your courses, but also when you are in active practice.
Keep in mind that most of your work will involve working with people from different standings in the society both local and global. You are, therefore, expected to understand their different problems and provide varying but practical solutions. While material containing updated or completely new information on the industry is sure to emerge regularly and you’ll be required to go through it, here are 5 great books for community psychologists you cannot afford to overlook.
1. Handbook of Community Psychology (2000th Edition), edited by Julian Rappaport and Edward Seidman
Bringing together 106 contributors, this handbook is one of the greatest efforts by community psychologist professionals to impart their invaluable knowledge to their peers. While its 38 chapters are interrelated, they each cover different areas of the practice. They include social systems, conceptual frameworks, intervention strategies and tactics, professional issues, designs, assessment and analysis as well as issues related to the community including HIV/AIDS and prevention of violence. It is fair to say that this is a book that should read from cover to cover by anyone wishing to gain knowledge in different fields of community psychology through practical examples.
2. Community Psychology(2nd Edition), by Geoffrey Nelson and Isaac Prilleltensky
The first edition of this book blew away the minds of community psychologists, both students and active professionals, immediately it hit the market. The second edition, however, proved greater than its predecessor mainly due to its updated information that includes developments in the industry as a result of changes that have recently swept through the society.
It has proved a valuable companion for students who have just set foot in the community psychology arena especially for its gentle, but equally gripping introduction. Apart from offering a well-crafted work on principles of community psychology, this book provides a close look at research tools. The authors give a perfect explanation on how best to apply them in varying situations for the goal of achieving social justice.
3. Community Psychology and Community Mental Health, edited by Bret Kloos, Jose Ornelas and Geoffrey Nelson
This book is another masterpiece with the extensive knowledge and experience of some of the most celebrated professionals in Community Psychology as its content. It offers innovative and transformative ways of ensuring effective strategies for community mental health are put into play. Additionally, it brings to light practical examples of changing mental health practices and programs with the goal of achieving more effectiveness by moving away from too much focus on symptoms and professional treatment to improved recovery support and integration into the community. It is, therefore, suitable for students, mental health professionals, policymakers, researchers and administrators as well as anyone else willing to delve deeper into the subject of mental health.
4. The Handbook of Community Practice (2nd Edition), by Marie Weil, Michael S. Reischans Mary L. Ohmer
As a second edition, this book was expanded to become a guidebook focused on global human rights and social justice. It is the first book in the community practice field to offer a combination of international development and globalization topics. It covers, among others, community development, policy practice, social change, program development, planning, organizing, coordination as well as community research with a global outlook on such issues as poverty and empowerment of communities. In its forty chapters, the handbook offers a challenge to community psychologists to better assess the theories, practice and methods of research involved in the field.
5. Principles of Community Psychology – Perspectives and Applications (3rd Edition): By Murray Levine, Douglas Perkins and David Perkins
While it is a fitting improvement of the earlier versions, this book retains the design of its predecessors. Like them, it includes theory, practice and research with a special focus on community psychology and mental health. The authors have done a great job in application of a social-support model in coping with various problems affecting the society. In addition, the social problems are put in both historical and current contexts while avoiding jargons, making it one of the most outstanding works on the subject of community psychology. The book will prove a gem for community psychology, mental health and social work students pursuing undergraduate and graduate courses.
Related Resource: 5 Great Books for Educational Psychology
Community Psychology is one of the greatest practices covering a wide scope of disciplines. According to the Society for Community Research and Action, there are must-have competencies for not only students in community psychology, but also for professionals in active practice. While there will certainly be editions and improvements, the five mentioned books for community psychologists are sure to stand the test of time.