Community Psychology

In Pursuit of Liberation and Well-Being

by Geoffrey Nelson and Isaac Prilleltensky

Chapter 9: Organizational and Community Interventions

Box 9.a

Lodge Societies and Oxford Houses

Community psychologist George Fairweather (1972) developed an intervention approach called "experimental social innovation." He argued for the creation of innovative programs, rigorous experimental evaluation of such programs to demonstrate their effectiveness, and then active dissemination of the empirically-validated innovation. As an example, Fairweather and colleagues developed a community alternative to institutionalization for people with serious mental health problems called the "lodge society ." The lodge was a residential setting that emphasized what we would now recognize as self-help principles . Former patients lived cooperatively and operated small businesses. A randomized controlled trial showed that the lodge residents were less likely to be rehospitalized and more likely to work than patients with typical discharge services.

Oxford Houses are residential settings designed to help people recover from alcohol and substance abuse. The houses afford residents a great degree of freedom in choice of treatment and lifestyle. Run democratically, residents exert a fair amount of control over daily routines and maintenance. Through the creation of a supportive mutual help community, residents help each other to recover from the effects of their addictions. Researchers from DePaul University in Chicago found that the psychological sense of community experienced in the setting was very important to residents in their struggle towards abstinence and recovery (Ferrari, Jason, Olson, Davis, & Alvarez, 2002). Community psychologists play an important role in devising, evaluating, and improving residential options for recovery.

Box 9.b
Mission Statement Created in Partnership Between Community Psychology Consultants and Oasis Center in Nashville - August 2003


In every act, in every interaction, in every social action, we hold each other accountable to promote

People's dignity, safety, hope and growth

Relationships based on caring, compassion and respect

Societies based on justice, communion and equality

We are all better when these values are in balance

To put these values into action, we will:

Share our power

Be proactive and not just reactive

Transform the conditions that create problems for youth

Encourage youth and families to promote a caring community

Nurture visions that make the impossible, possible

We commit to uphold these values with

Youth and their Families

Our Employees

Our Organization

Our Community

This is a living document. We invite you to discuss it, to critique it, to live it

Box 9.c
Health and Human Service Coalitions in Massachusetts: Inching Towards Transformation?

Community psychologist Thomas Wolff works for the Massachusetts Area Health Education Centre. He works with coalitions to improve the quality of life in the community. The coalitions have six guiding principles:
  1. Starting with issues identified by the local community
  2. Including as many interested people as possible
  3. Having the community define its own boundaries
  4. Moving from planning to achievable goals
  5. Willingness to engage in advocacy
  6. Working towards long term goals, as social change requires perseverance

Although the coalitions' initial efforts typically focus on health issues and human services, they generally move towards transformative and political aims that address social change. The Worcester Latino Coalition, for instance, started addressing access to health care but developed into a voter registration campaign.
When coalitions realize that members of the legislature and city hall listen and respond to their issues, they move from a sense of powerlessness to one of empowermen -Wolff, 2000, p. 774