Competencies for Community Psychology Practice

After the 2011 Biennial Conference of the Society for Community Research and Action, the Community Psychology Practice Council and the Council of Education Programs appointed a task group focused on defining practice competencies for the field. These competencies were developed with the intent to communicate the nature and contributions of community psychology practice to prospective students and psychological colleagues, and to articulate for prospective employers the the set of skills they could expect from a practicing community psychologist. The 18 competencies were not developed to be standards for accrediting programs. Instead, they offer a framework for discussion of the skills involved in community psychology practice, fosters innovation in opportunities for developing these skills in graduate education and allows for transparency of graduate training. To read more about the practice competencies, click here: Dalton & Wolfe (2012).


1. Ecological Perspectives

The ability to articulate and apply multiple ecological perspectives and levels of analysis in community practice.

2. Empowerment

The ability to articulate and apply a collective empowerment perspective, to support communities that have been marginalized in their efforts to gain access to resources and to participate in community decision-making.

3. Sociocultural and Cross-Cultural Competence

The ability to value, integrate, and bridge multiple worldviews, cultures, and identities.

4. Community Inclusion and Partnership

The ability to promote genuine representation and respect for all community members, and act to legitimize divergent perspectives on community and social issues.

5. Ethical, Reflective Practice

In a process of continual ethical improvement, the ability to identify ethical issues in one’s own practice, and act to address them responsibly. To articulate how one’s own values, assumptions, and life experiences influence one’s work, and articulate the strengths and limitations of one’s own perspective. To develop and maintain professional networks for ethical consultation and support.


6. Program Development, Implementation and Management

The ability to partner with community stakeholders to plan, develop, implement and sustain programs in community settings.

7.  Prevention and Health Promotion

The ability to articulate and implement a prevention perspective, and to implement prevention and health promotion community programs.


8. Community Leadership and Mentoring

Leadership: The ability to enhance the capacity of individuals and groups to lead effectively, through a collaborative process of engaging, energizing and mobilizing those individuals and groups regarding an issue of shared importance.

Mentoring:  The ability to assist community members to identify personal strengths and social and structural resources that they can develop further and use to enhance empowerment, community engagement, and leadership.

9. Small and Large Group Processes

The ability to intervene in small and large group processes, in order to facilitate the capacity of community groups to work together productively.

10. Resource Development

The ability to identify and integrate use of human and material resources, including community assets and social capital.

11. Consultation and Organizational Development

The ability to facilitate growth of an organization’s capacity to attain its goals.


12. Collaboration and Coalition Development

The ability to help groups with common interests and goals to do together what they cannot do apart.

13. Community Development

The ability to help a community develop a vision and take actions toward becoming a healthy community.

14. Community Organizing and Community Advocacy

The ability to work collaboratively with community members to gain the power to improve conditions affecting their community.

15. Public Policy Analysis, Development and Advocacy

The ability to build and sustain effective communication and working relationships with policy makers, elected officials, and community leaders.

16. Community Education, Information Dissemination, and Building Public Awareness

The ability to communicate information to various segments of the public, to strengthen competencies and awareness, or for advocacy. To give community psychology away.


17. Participatory Community Research

The ability to work with community partners to plan and conduct research that meet high standards of scientific evidence that are contextually appropriate, and to communicate the findings of that research in ways that promote community capacity to pursue community goals.

18. Program Evaluation

The ability to partner with community/setting leaders and members to promote program improvement and program accountability to stakeholders and funders.

Adopted from Dalton & Wolfe (2012 Education Connection and The Community Practitioner. The Community Psychologist, 45 (4), 7-13.

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Interested in Community Psychology as a field?  Check out our page What is Community Psychology?


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