Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 25 Issue 6 (November/December 2015), Pages 459-548

Psychology Without Psy Professionals: Exploring an Unemployed Centre Families Project as a Mental Health Resource (pages 502-514)


The activities and technologies of the psychology (Psy) disciplines, in the process of privileging professional understandings of distress, could be seen to be potentially facilitating corrosion in the capacity of the lay public to understand and ameliorate their distress. This paper draws on the experiences of people who use an Unemployed Centre Families Project in the South of England to provide an example of community mental health work that does not draw on the dominant discourses, institutions or practitioners of the Psy sciences. Through interviews with centre users, staff and volunteers, a picture emerges of a community space that provides a variety of services, projects and opportunities that have a very considerable positive impact on the mental well‐being of the centre users. This picture highlights non‐medical intersubjective processes that offer possibilities for recoveries from mental distress but that are often neglected and subordinated in the professional worlds of Psy and psychiatry. Such centres facilitate social networks and practical help, and transitions in identity can be beneficial for those experiencing mental distress. In so doing, they make prominent some of the key limitations of biomedical approaches to recovery. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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