Community psychology and social problems in Mexico
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Community Psychology has basically been an informal academic field of studies and practices. Its roots can be traced to an implicit community psychology practiced by indigenous and rural populations since pre-hispanic times, through colonial rule, XIX century republican regimes, post Mexican Revolution rural education programs and governmental and non governmental community development initiatives. The actual academic field of Community Psychology in Mexico shows a scarcity of academic programs that have not had the opportunity to become firmly established in higher education institutions. The main sources of academic theory and practice in contemporary Community Psychology in the world have had limited influence in Mexico. American community psychology with its strong clinical trend has been present but has not been the most important source of impact on Mexican community psychologists. Latin American community psychology with its contributions to confront the irrelevance of social psychology has also contributed to the development of Mexican community psychology but its influence was not decisive and only recently fruitful exchanges have been established. The field in Mexico has been informally evolving through the practices and thinking of Mexican psychologists confronted by pressing social challenges they have been forced to face in their efforts to make psychology relevant and useful. Mexican psychoanalysts tried to apply their expertise with marginalized urban settings. Humanist psychologists looked for underserved populations to make explicit their professional commitment in serving humanity. Behavior psychologists tried to devise a training curriculum centered on community service. Clinical psychologists at UNAM were concerned about the problems of our people in the big metropolis and by the traumas caused by natural disasters. Psychologists from all over Mexico and from diverse academic subfields and traditions have been working hand in hand with anthropologists, sociologists, social workers, popular educators, rural experts, and all sort of fields of study, in confronting the problems generated by the unequal distribution of wealth, corruption, the literacy and digital gaps, the denial and discrimination of ethnic peoples, and the increasing violence endured by many people in different regions of the country. What will be the future of community psychology in Mexico? What have we learned? What are our weaknesses and what are our strengths? Do we need a more formal training? Do we need a formal employment market? Do we have something specific to offer among the health, education and social sciences? What are our theoretical and practical inputs? We live in difficult times. Community Psychology will be more needed than ever. What should we do to make it relevant?