Recommendations for Integrating a Social Justice Framework into Clinical Practice: A qualitative analysis with implications for psychology training programs

Authors

  • Munazza Saalim Abraham University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • Geoffrey Harrison University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • Sarah Peralta University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • Jabarey Wells University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • Bronwyn Hunter University of Maryland, Baltimore County

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.33043/JSACP.14.1.17-36

Keywords:

Social Justice Framework, Clinical-Community Psychology, Clinical Practice, Social Context, Strength-based Approaches

Abstract

Social justice is a frequently used buzz word yet an abstract concept in clinical training. As a result, there is minimal guidance on how to implement social justice in clinical practice, which leads to training gaps, uncertainty, and discomfort among clinicians serving historically oppressed populations. This study examined how to integrate the social justice principles of community psychology into clinical psychology practice among doctoral students. The integration of the following social justice principles were analyzed: addressing oppression and social context, utilizing strength-based approaches, facilitating empowerment, acknowledging and managing privilege, and effective advocacy. We utilized qualitative methods to complete 26 one-on-one interviews and a focus group with 5 participants to understand student experiences and explore how they applied the above social justice principles to their clinical practice. Through an iterative process, doctoral student responses were synthesized into a list of recommendations on how to integrate a social justice framework into clinical work. The primary results from this study suggest that students in clinical-community psychology doctoral programs try to use client-centered strategies to understand their clients’ experiences of oppression and incorporate social context and a strengths-based approach into multiple aspects of practice, such as treatment planning and advocacy to connect clients to resources. Students also reported managing their privilege through internal self-reflection and occasional self-disclosure during therapy with clients. However, despite the desire to use socially just practices, several training gaps and needs emerged. These gaps included the need to identify methods of measuring and confirming client empowerment as well as supervisory and institutional support for effective advocacy work. Thus, implications for integrating social justice principles into clinical-community psychology programs, clinical psychology, and related disciplines are discussed.

Author Biographies

Munazza Saalim Abraham, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Munazza Saalim Abraham is a current Clinical-Community Psychology PhD student within the Human Services Psychology department at the Univeristy of Maryland, Batlimore County (expected graduation date, May 2022). Munazza's research interests center social justice, policy and culture change to dismantle systemic oppression, liberation and empowerment of Black communities, and the restoration of rights and well-being among individuals directly impacted by the criminal legal system. Munazza's longterm goal is to use her training in Clinical-Community Psychology to support marginalized individuals and communities through the development of multi-level prevention programs and wellness centers.

Geoffrey Harrison, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Geoffrey Harrison is a 2nd year Clinicial-Community Psychology PhD student within the Human Services Psychology department of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Sarah Peralta, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Sarah Peralta is a 1st year Clinicial-Community Psychology PhD student within the Human Services Psychology department of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Jabarey Wells, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Jabarey Wells is a 2nd year Clinicial-Community Psychology PhD student within the Human Services Psychology department of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Bronwyn Hunter, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Bronwyn Hunter, PhD, is a Clinical and Community Psychologist and Assitant Professor in the Human Services Department of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

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Published

2022-09-08

How to Cite

Munazza Saalim Abraham, Geoffrey Harrison, Sarah Peralta, Jabarey Wells, & Bronwyn Hunter. (2022). Recommendations for Integrating a Social Justice Framework into Clinical Practice: A qualitative analysis with implications for psychology training programs . Journal for Social Action in Counseling & Psychology, 14(1), 17–36. https://doi.org/10.33043/JSACP.14.1.17-36