Community Psychology

About Community Psychology

The area of psychology which has become known as community psychology developed primarily in the United States during the 1960’s and 1970’s, although the work of certain European social scientists (e.g. Marie Jahoda) during the 1930’s and 1940’s is evidence of an older tradition of community interventions. Similarly, in Aotearoa, the antecedents of community psychology can be found in the work of certain psychologists in the first half of the twentieth century, particularly Ernest Beaglehole (1906 – 1965). Beaglehole, a friend of Te Rangi Hiroa (Sir Peter Buck), was a proponent of ethnopsychology (now more often referred to as cross-cultural psychology) and a strong advocate for the application of psychology to improve material and social conditions so as to prevent the development of psychological and other problems.

Broadly speaking, community psychology developed in response to the concern of many psychologists that preventing social problems and improving the quality of people’s lives requires more than simply changing the behaviour of individuals. It requires the analysis of, and intervention in, the broader social, political and physical systems affecting human behaviour. It requires confronting oppression, including colonisation, racism, sexism and classism – and addressing the disparities which result.

There have been important contributions to the conceptual development and research base of community psychology from many areas of psychology, particularly applied social psychology, environmental psychology, organisational psychology, and, more recently, critical psychology.

In addition, most community psychologists have a strong interdisciplinary emphasis and recognise the contributions from areas such as applied anthropology, applied sociology, community health, geography, and the policy sciences. A major emphasis in training and research in community psychology is clarification of values, objectives and roles appropriate for practising community psychologists, and the maintenance of an interdisciplinary perspective towards social problems and community development.

Why Study Community psychology?

Community psychology as an applied social science encourages inter-disciplinary approaches to learning, including sociology, community development, education and the policy sciences. Training involves awareness of the social and cultural positioning of the practitioner, critical perspectives on knowledge creation and the development of analytical skills in research and practice.  Experiential knowledge is valued, along with knowledge derived from empirical studies.

Informed by an understanding of the Social Determinants of Health , community psychologists develop, support and evaluate interventions that will enhance health outcomes for individuals, whānau and communities in Aotearoa.  With a focus on social justice, te Tiriti o Waitangi, and sustainability we are skilled in analysing how the complex array of policies, systems and structures in society are developed and organised and the impact they have on individuals and communities especially those who are oppressed, stigmatised or marginalised.

Community psychology is a specialty paper taught in several universities across Aotearoa. At the University of Waikato, we offer an accredited programme that leads to registration with the New Zealand Psychologists Board  in the psychologist scope of practice. The Post Graduate Diploma in the Practice of Psychology (Community) offered at Waikato is a programme of study that can be entered at the level of honours, masters or above. Students that complete a Community psychology programme will have a minimum of six years university education, be able to articulate and demonstrate a high standard of ethical practice . As part of their practice, Community Psychologists will participate in regular supervision and yearly audits of their practice as part of their registration requirements.

Community Psychologists focus on the health and wellbeing of communities

Community psychologists contribute their expertise in a number of health and social services to encourage healthy people and communities.  For example, they may be employed in the areas of research, policy, strategic planning, whānau ora, mental health, community development, and in public and population health. They value working with people across a range of sectors to initiate, develop and promote prevention and intervention strategies that improve the health outcomes for people and communities.

Community Psychologists work across sectors

Community psychologists work with health, education, justice, disability, iwi, environmental and social services providers, policy makers and funders. We offer knowledge and skills in a range of policy and evaluation research methods and approaches. We will set up and carry out policy analyses and the evaluation of programmes and initiatives across a wide range of organisations, including central and local Government, non-government and community based organisations and groups. Community psychologists employ a wide range of methodologies, the choice of method being determined by the particular context and issue being addressed. There is a focus on group, community and societal interventions which address the structural factors maintaining oppression and sub-optimal health. Community psychologists pay particular attention to process, valuing bottom-up, inclusive and collaborative ways of working.

This content is a modified version of that developed by practitioners and academic staff in cooperation with the New Zealand Psychological Society and the Institute of Community Psychology Aotearoa, August 2016.

Studying in Community Psychology at the University of Waikato

Undergraduate Level

Below is a list of the undergraduate papers taught within the School of Psychology (University of Waikato) that will provide potential community psychology students with a strong theoretical basis for moving into graduate study in this field.
PSYCH101 Social, Health and Well-being
PSYCH202 Mauri Ora: Social Psychology of Human Flourishing
PSYCH211 Understanding Psychological Research
PSYCH302 Community, Culture and Diversity
PSYCH307 Psychological Research Methods

Graduate Level

Master of Applied Psychology in Community Psychology
To complete a MAppPsy in Community Psychology, students must pass the equivalent of 240 points comprising 90 points from the compulsory papers:
PSYCH511 Evaluation Research Design
PSYCH513 Evaluation Research Analysis
PSYCH575 Indigenous Psychologies
PSYCH582 Community Health Psychology
PSYCH583 Foundations of Community Psychology
Students can select optional papers to complement their interest in Community Psychology in order to meet their degree requirements. Optional papers should be discussed with Community Psychology staff.

Postgraduate Diploma in the Practice of Community Psychology
A PGDipPracPsych in Community Psychology is available to suitably qualified graduates and is designed to meet the requirements for registration as a psychologist under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003. To complete the PGDipPracPsych in Community Psychology, students must gain 120 points in the following papers:
PSYC541 Case Study Analysis in Applied Psychology
PSYC542 Professional Issues in Psychology
PSYC543 The Practice of Psychology

Community Psychology Programme Associates

Community Psychology Programme Associates are experienced practitioners of community psychology who are willing and able to contribute to the training and mentoring of graduate students and, in a general sense, to represent the profession's interest in decision-making within the programme.  The following people are our programe associates.

  • Rosanne Black, BSc Massey. MSocSc(Hons) PGDipPsych(Com), PhD Waik. Policy Analyst, Population Health, Waikato District Health Board. Registered Community Psychologist.
    Email: [email protected]
  • P. Ruth Buckingham, BA Massey. MSocSc. PGDipPsych(Com) Waik. JP, Manager, Social and Economic Science, Waikato Regional Council.  Registered Community Psychologist.
    Email: [email protected]
  • Jacqueline Henry, MSocSc(Hons), PGDipPsych(Com) Waik. Senior Social Scientist, Social and Economic Science, Waikato Regional Council. Registered Community Psychologist. Email: [email protected]
  • Ingrid Huygens, MA Auck. DipPsych(Com), PhD Waik. Director, Workwise Associates, National Coordinator, Tangata Tiriti Treaty People Education Project, Registered Community Psychologist.
    Email: [email protected]
  • Patricia Te Wairere Ahiahi Young, BSocSc, MSocSc, PGDipPsych(Com) Waik. PhD Vic. Independent Research-Evaluation, Rotorua.  Registered Community Psychologist.
    Email: [email protected]
  • Janelle Fisher, BSocSc, MSocSc, PGDipPracPsych(Comm), Waik. Quality Practice Leader, Interactionz, Registered Community Psychologist.
    Email: [email protected]
  • Roxahn Hanes, BSc South Carolina MSocSc PGDipPsych(Com) Waik. Manager Psychology & Counselling Service, St Peter's School.
    Email: [email protected]
  • Heather Hamerton, BA, PGDip Education, PhD Wai. Head of Research – Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology.
    Email: [email protected]

Roles and expectations of CP Programme Associates

Community Psychology Handbooks

Community Psychology Postgraduate Handbook (for the MAppPsy and PGDipPracPsych)
Community Psychology Internship Handbook (for the PGDipPracPsych only)

Academic Staff

Associate Professor Bridgette Masters-Awatere
Community Psychology Graduate Programme Convenor & Director of MPRU

Dr Ottilie Stolte
Senior Lecturer

Contact Information

Donna Walsh
Tel: +64 7 837 9222
Email: [email protected]