Critical Psychology, Prevention, and Social Justice

Isaac Prilleltensky and Geoffrey Nelson

in The Oxford Handbook of Prevention in Counseling Psychology

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780195396423
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Critical Psychology, Prevention, and Social Justice

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  • Counselling Psychology



Abstract Critical psychology and prevention have a goal in common: the promotion of individual and community well-being. Their ways of achieving it, however, vary. In this chapter we explore similarities and differences between these two disciplines in terms of values, ontology, epistemology, and practices. Whereas prevention has assumed a value-neutral, positivist and largely individualistic approach, critical psychology has endorsed an explicitly value-laden and social action orientation. The value of social justice, very prevalent in critical psychology, assumes a marginal position in prevention. With the notable exception of George Albee and his disciples, prevention professionals have embraced the promotion of health and the reduction of personal risk factors as their main goals. Whereas critical psychologists have done a great deal to show the role of injustice in mental health and psychosocial problems, they have not done as well as preventionists in systematically implementing and evaluating psychosocial interventions. We argue for a synergy between critical psychology and prevention to promote both sustainable well-being and social justice.

Keywords: prevention; critical psychology; social justice; well-being; values; status quo; action research

Article.  13597 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Counselling Psychology

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