Psychology without psychologists: exploring an unemployed centre families project as a mental health resource

Carl Walker, Paul Hanna, Angela Hart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The activities and technologies of the psychology (Psy) disciplines, in the process of privilegingprofessional understandings of distress, could be seen to be potentially facilitating corrosion in thecapacity of the lay public to understand and ameliorate their distress. This paper draws on the experiencesof people who use an Unemployed Centre Families Project in the South of England to providean example of community mental health work that does not draw on the dominant discourses, institutionsor practitioners of the Psy sciences. Through interviews with centre users, staff and volunteers, apicture emerges of a community space that provides a variety of services, projects and opportunitiesthat have a very considerable positive impact on the mental well-being of the centre users. This picturehighlights non-medical intersubjective processes that offer possibilities for recoveries from mentaldistress 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 beneficialfor those experiencing mental distress. In so doing, they make prominent some of the key limitationsof biomedical approaches to recovery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)502-514
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Community and Applied Social Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2015


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