Liberation Psychology often finds itself at the forefront of the ever-redefining lines of psychology in general – whether this is how we choose to make diagnosis, to how accurate and useful established labelling of some conditions may be, to give some examples. Counselling is an integral part of any psychological care or inquiry, and there is strong evidence to suggest that the approach employed by liberation psychology in relation to counselling can have much wider impacting, positive outcomes for not only patients but also communities at large.
The Fundamental Differences
In contrast to traditional psychological approaches, which often ignore social and contextual relevance, liberation psychology actively incorporates the importance of these factors on both an individual and community. Given the roots of Liberation Psychology, this is perhaps no surprise, but while the founding reasons for the approach are indeed based on communities that are in general struggling with social justice issues, there is evidence to suggest that adopting Liberation Psychology as wider approach is beneficial to counselling approaches all over the world. This of course, makes sense: Most communities, whatever their location, economic and political stability, will often face problems unique to their social environments. While we may find cases of similar conditions in many different places, such as depression for example, the reasons and causes for these conditions will greatly vary from individual to individual, society to society. The causes of depression are numerous, and the condition is often not set off by any one, but a combination of a number of triggers. However, the social climate can have severe effects on what triggers are likely to be more common. Countries struggling for social justice for example, will generally have differing levels, and potency of triggers compared to the UK. Of course, there are many common elements that contribute to depression, and this perhaps argues well in defence of employing liberation psychology counselling methods: By understanding and addressing the importance of social and environmental factors that are unique to the individual, the chances of successful counselling are increased, as well as achieving a greater understanding of root causes.
Currently, a popular approach is that of emancipation communitarianism as a socially just form of counselling. This approach has been particularly successful on homeless clients for example, where it was tested extensively by Brubaker, Torres Riviera, Garrett and Tate. The method was to empower homeless clients by deconstructing personal histories, enabling a development of critical consciousness through understanding their community history in respect to homelessness, understanding their own negative perceptions and beliefs regarding themselves and others perceptions, and as a result, it was argued by the authors of the study, created a healthy healing climate. This of course, is not the only area that could benefit from such an approach. Family and domestic violence, for example, is increasingly sought to be solved through legislation, especially in the US. Currently, there are strong cases that not only is this legislation not addressing the problem, but that a rethink in strategy, approaching the problem more directly with psychology and science is what is needed. In fact, according to licensedprescriptions.com, family violence is on the rise in the US, and alternative approaches are needed as a matter of urgency. This is certainly a potential area of intervention for Liberation Psychology and emancipation communitarianism.
Liberation Psychology is still a fairly new method, and while it is certainly gaining wider recognition outside its birth place in Latin America, most general psychological practices have yet to incorporate or recognise the movement in full. However, that being said, as advances are made in traditional psychology, and the previously stifling walls of lack of universality and other boundaries slowly being eroded, we could indeed see a wider adoption of Liberation Psychology in the coming years. Some practices have already begun exploring the potential benefits and methods in North America, especially in regard to LGBT issues. In this example, LGBT persons are often left feeling responsible for feelings of negativity that are often generated from society towards them. While this is often recognised in traditional counselling, the issue has never been directly addressed. Liberation Psychology allows these problems to not only be tackled, but free the individuals of any unnecessary blame or negativity derived from society as a result.