Addressing speech

Caterina Arcidiacono President of the 9th Congress  ECPA

President ECPA (2011-2013)


ECPA board and the Neapolitan organizing team, is pleased to host in Naples all the participants attending the 9th ECCP “Beyond the crisis, Building community and critical visions to achieve justice, fairness and well-being”.  We wish the congress will allow us to focus on:  1) the issue posed by contemporary society  2) the contribution that Community Psychology can give to new visions overcoming the oppression of financial capitalism and the exploitation of human and environmental resources that are determining inequality, and forced migration 3) the strategies and tools that our discipline offers to field studies, social policies, and local interventions. Meetings with local situations, in-depth workshops and social mingling events will be part of our congress.

A warm welcome to the Naples ECCP 2013 to psychologists, social researchers and activists who are interested in promoting social transformational processes by working on the intersection between individuals and contexts.

Today’s challenge lies in improving quality of life and building social happiness in a global universe where working conditions are not human and environmental friendly, and bring new as well as unthought-of discomforts on individuals and their relational lives. Human developmental models, nutritional policies, living environmental development ought then to be the object of interest for individual well-being as well. Justice and equality ought to become the common goal of social inclusive policies as well as a value-related dimension geared to flank and characterize professional settings and psychological interventions.

This congress sets out to be an arena for discussing and seek for new objectives, instruments, and shared practices for psychologists and social actors alike who act on the boundary between individuals and social organizations.

Notoriously, building the future is a task for foreseers, which is why Community Psychology is organizing a such an event as the 9th European congress “Beyond the crisis. Building community and critical visions to achieve justice, fairness and well-being” that we are opening in these days?

Moreover, what is the peculiarity of Community Psychology? What does characterize this discipline?

Urban planners hopefully design people-friendly spaces; whereas Community Psychologists build up relational bonds aimed for citizens’ well-being. The former work on streets, walls or parks, the latter develop links between human beings and environment. In that sense, Community Psychology bears a specific expertise which accounts for the interaction between individuals and contexts.

Traditionally, psychologists have focused on reparative skills performed within an clinical context with individuals, families or groups. Community Psychology has as its own object of interest the construction of living frameworks and organizations aimed at improving living conditions. Therefore, a Community Psychology perspective allows to investigate and foster those conditions accounting for a process of change as well as to deal with those that hinder it. Empowerment, participation, and respect for diversity ought to be guidelines for living together. But how? And with which kind of tools? As Community Psychologists we ought to be aware of our own competencies (i.e. identification of needs, support aimed at sustaining and overcoming crisis, specific skills for group work and social mediation). We must give value to this knowledge and foster it through first-hand activities and basic training courses. If we are not able to give value to our specific competence the labour market will not be able to acknowledge, identify and use it. And therefore the question begged here is “what does characterize and make a psychologist’s competence peculiar as social catalyst? Does a Psychologist’s role overlaps with that of a urban planner, a philosopher, or a political activist?

Today, the future of our planet and of human relationships is  increasing.  Diverse scholarships are merging together to deal with the themes of common good and individual well-being. What does Community Psychology have to say about that? Where does its commitment and contribution lie?

We are expert on the relation between individuals and contexts while working as catalysts of social change.

In the light of this perspective we must think about how to outline the future of individual and human contexts as well as how to act as experts on the interaction between individuals and contexts.

Our 9th biannual congress is now  here. My mind goes back to the first congress, which was held in Rome in 1995, on the theme of social empowerment. A long time has passed and it is now time to make Community Psychology take a generational step forward. The theme of empowerment has been increasingly more linked to an organizational-collective dimension, and we are also more aware now that this is linked also to applying justice and democracy. The recent developments of our planet are telling us that our well-being is also linked to defending the earth and the environment we live in. The ecological model developed by our discipline allows us to break into a critical perspective while looking at the management of cities, work, and environment as new action fields for the creation of shared prosperity.

What is the way out of the global crisis? How can we build happiness and social well-being? We are far away from an individualistic perspective, but we still need to understand and develop the contribution of Community Psychology can bring about along with its methods and strategies. We also need to create a system of alliances with scholars from other disciplines who analyze the development of our world by focusing on resource management, justice, and inequalities. This is the reason why we decided to invite to our congress an environmentalist (Tom Fox) who works on bottom-up urban planning and an Italian wellknown economist who works on public happiness (Stefano Bartolini).

This congress will be a further step in our commitment

Welcome  to the 9ECCP in Naples, 2013!