Tuesday 23 August 2011

MC-MH: Global Integration--4

Global Integration and Psychology International
Image from website of APA office of International Affairs

We are sharing a few thoughts on future directions for integration. Integration is a field of study which brings together the disciplines of theology and mental health in order to better understand and help humans. The ongoing/additional links between member care (MC) and mental health (MH) are highly relevant for the global development of integration—global integration (GI). And GI is potentially very relevant for the global development of mission/aid.

Some noteworthy historical examples of the influence of integration on mission/aid are the special issues on psychology and missions beginning in 1983 in both the Journal of Psychology and Theology and the Journal of Psychology and Christianity. (note that some of the articles from these special issues are available at the Member Caravan web site via the online version of Helping Missionaries Grow). Still another example is the integration backgrounds of many practitioners in member care extending back to the initial days of integration endeavors (1960s/1970s). As we stay in touch with global mental health resources and developments, including psychology international, we will be better equipped to provide member care in mission/aid and beyond.
I just attended the annual convention of the American Psychological Association (APA) in Washington DC. Established in 1892, the 150,000 members of the APA are part of the largest and arguably the most influential psychological association in the world. Its mission is to advance the creation, communication, and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives.

I was really inspired by my time at this huge five-day gathering, convened at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in the historic center of Washington DC. (click here to see a 3 minute promotional piece about this center.) My appreciation of the scope and relevance of psychology soared. My particular interests were oriented towards “psychology international (PI), especially the international applications of psychology for member care and for promoting health/dealing with human problems at the global level. PI can play an increasingly substantial role in the development of GI—global integration—and vice versa. Consider these PI examples from the APA convention.

People and Presentations
The APA convention certainly had a definite American feel and focus to it. Yet the clear signs of the ascendant global mental health world were easy to spot. The most visible evidence was seen in the numbers of international participants, internationally-experienced American colleagues, and the international/global-related presentations. Just a few samplings of the latter included areas such as:

**helping people/children who have been trafficked as sex workers;
**internationalizing psychology training;
**researching assessment and treatment approaches in different countries including post-traumatic stress in conflict areas;
**exploring opportunities for working in different nations.

Here are some other examples of the presentations that I attended (from the hundreds available):
**the use of social media to educate and provide care as well as examples of the darker side of the internet such as cyberstalking (click here for a brief summary of Dr. Elizabeth Carll’s presentation);
**the use of virtual reality treatments (e.g., interacting online with digitalized human helpers; providing burn victims with a virtual experience (Snow World game) to minimize the excruciating pain from having their bandages removed and wounds/skin grafts scrubbed—click here for some information about Snow World and click here for related research article);
**social psychology research on how people can become either heroes or villains (developing pro-social or anti-social behavior or character traits—see Frank Farley’s related comments on the characteristics of heroes by clicking here and click this link for Phil Zimbardo’s on evil/Lucifer Effect); and
**the effects of globalization on human health, governance, and justice (Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the Western Mind)
**healing after mass violence, reconciliation, evil (see the materials from Dr. Irving Staub)

Another presentation (by Dr. Danny Wedding at California School of Professional Psychology) discussed how clinical psychology and counseling psychology are taught in various countries. It included a brief description/mention of some of the some recent text books which provide a more international overview of psychology/mental health.

International Handbook of Psychology (2000)
Handbook of International Psychology (2004)
Toward a Global Psychology (2007)

History of Modern Psychology in Context (2010)
History of Psychology: A Global Perspective (2011)
Public Health Tools of Practicing Psychologists (2011)

My time at the APA Convention confirmed to me that member care (MC) and global integration (GI) must be further informed by and connected to psychology international (PI). For another tangible example have a look at the latest issue of Psychology International (July/August 2011), published by the APA Office of International Affairs. This issue includes brief pieces about mental health practices in Nepal, Psychology Day at the United Nations (14 April 2011), information on the new site from the International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS) called Psychological Resources from Around the World, a short article I did that overviews global mental health, etc.

Member Care Applications
As we have shared with graduate students in the mental health sciences who are interested in member care: get the best education-training that you can; get the best cross-cultural experiences that you can; connect with networks and people in mission/aid/member care; grow as a person; commit to lifelong learning; trust God; get a support group with you and behind you; try to not take on too much debt; and more recently, cross sectors for good practice. Going to the APA convention and considering the current state of PI, reminded me of all the above!

Those who practice Christian spirituality and head into the GI realm can certainly embrace the good in PI without becoming psycho-centirc. A Cristo-centric relationship, commitment, and lifestyle are still at the core of every GI practitioner. 

Reflections and Discussion
1. Which of the above PI resources-links are the most interesting to you?

2. List a few other suggestions for PI resources that are relevant for GI and member care specifically.

3. What can help GI develop into a broad-based movement (and without being overly influenced by one country, discipline, organization, etc.)?

No comments: