The Centre for Critical Psychology (CCP) is dedicated to scholarly and activist reflection on psychology as an academic discipline and on ‘psychologisation’ as a globalising cultural force. We examine the discipline of psychology as it operates alongside psychiatry and psychotherapy in a cluster of theories and practices as part of the ‘psy complex’, and we examine the way that psychologisation reduces explanation to the level of the individual in order to more effectively challenge that reduction.
We believe that psychology as an academic discipline and professional practice demands a level of detailed and sustained critique that is able to address its different ‘sub-disciplines’ and that is able to acknowledge that critical psychology itself is divided and contested. For us, there is no one agreed ‘critical psychology’, but rather a field of debate from which we can develop a number of arguments that are useful in different kinds of alternative research, including working with social movements.
CCP values diversity, and is designed to give a comprehensive overview of critical psychology while opening up the possibility of new versions of it. Critical psychology has developed from different standpoints (such as through connections with feminist research, or with liberation psychology) as well in difficult cultural contexts (with specific histories of psychology in different regions of the world posing quite distinct questions for critical psychologists), and these need to be addressed in critical social scientific work.
The Centre develops arguments for a new form of psychological practice that is ‘critical’ in its ethos, an ethos that can be summed up in the following points: critical psychology can forge an alliance between academics, professionals and users of services to build a respectful empowering practical approach; it can develop a culturally-attuned practice that embeds bodily and life-experience in social context; it can thus provide a resource for overcoming alienation and restoring the humanity of those who seek psychological help; it puts the project for social change at the heart of its ethical practice in forms of action research; and it develops forms of self-activity that build upon the ‘standpoint’ of users of psychology and connect with the ‘subjectivity’ of those who wish to help them.
The critique that critical psychology develops thus engages with and unravels these aspects of psychology, asking the following questions: How is ‘psychology’ produced as a commonsensical resource for individuals to make sense of themselves and others and of possibilities for changing social conditions? How are social processes reproduced and maintained at the level of interpersonal interaction and individual experience, at the level of ‘psychology’? How are patterns of activity structured to replicate power relations regardless of and even despite the immediate intentions of an individual ‘psychology’? How can theoretical articulation of the place of individual ‘psychology’ and social structure be developed to provide some critical distance from ideology? How can research into the political functions of ‘psychology’ operate in such a way as to maintain a degree of autonomy of activity and experience from political interference?
Engaging with CCP:
For research and proposals for joint work please visit our contacts page and send us an email.
Studying with us:
If you are interested in opportunities to study with us, please follow the Courses link. Our courses are largely online, and have a strong practical, methodological conceptual focus. The courses are for researchers as well as activists and practitioners of various levels and experience. Through the course you will interact with and have access to a diverse research community, who will assist with tutoring and support.
Training and capacity building:
At CCP we are also developing training sessions and courses, online, offline and through blended learning. Where possible, most of our research includes a component of capacity building. Our approach is participatory, strongly inclusive, and we aim to displace the ‘universal’ approach psychology usually privileges with culturally-specific approaches, tools and knowledge. Please contact us and let us know what your needs are.