Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Did You Know? World Day of Social Justice is February 20

By Guest Blogger, Amanda M. Mitchell, Ph.D.

World Day of Social Justice was officially declared as February 20th by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 2007.1 The UN describes social justice as central to their mission of promoting development and human dignity.1 Although social justice definitions vary widely, one relevant to the field of psychology is a “perspective emphasizing societal concerns, including issues of equity, self-determination, interdependence and social responsibility.”7

In the context of psychology, justice is a core principle in the American Psychological Association Code of Ethics.3 Over the past decade, we saw increased calls in the literature for the integration of social justice and advocacy into various psychology settings, including training.e.g., 2, 5, 6, 7 In addition, advocacy is a competency described in the American Psychological Association’s Benchmarks Evaluation System, a set of competencies professional psychology programs can use to ensure students are obtaining the necessary knowledge and skills for their career.4 As social justice and advocacy continues to evolve in the psychology field and society, it is meaningful to consider or reexamine the role it plays in your life.

As we observe World Day of Social Justice, some questions to reflect on:
  • How do you define social justice?
  • What is your reaction to the term social justice?
  • How do you integrate social justice into your personal and professional identities? 
    • What does it look like on a daily basis?
  • What other words come to mind when you think of social justice (e.g., oppression, privilege, equity, access to care, health disparities)? 
  • What personal experiences have informed your understanding of social justice?
  • What types of social justice and advocacy-related activities would you like to become involved in?

1UN, 2017. World Day of Social Justice: 20 February. http://www.un.org/en/events/socialjusticeday/
2Ali, S. R., Liu, W. M., Mahmood, A., & Arguello, J. (2008). Social justice and applied psychology: Practical ideas for training the next generation of psychologists. Journal for Social Action in Counseling and Psychology, 1, 1-13.
3American Psychological Association (2017). Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/
4American Psychological Association (2017). Benchmarks Evaluation System. http://www.apa.org/ed/graduate/benchmarks-evaluation-system.aspx
5Burnes, T. R., & Singh, A. A. (2010). Integrating social justice training into the practicum experience for psychology trainees: Starting earlier. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 4, 153-162.
6Constantine, M. G., Hage, S. M., Kindaichi, M. M., & Bryant, R. M. (2007). Social justice and multicultural issues: Implications for the practice and training of counselors and counseling psychologists. Journal of Counseling & Development, 85, 24-29.
7Vera, E. M., & Speight, S. L. (2003). Multicultural competence, social justice, and counseling psychology: Expanding our roles. The Counseling Psychologist, 31, 253-272.

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Dr. Mitchell is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. She received her doctorate in Counseling Psychology at the University of Louisville and completed an APA-accredited internship at the University of Utah Counseling Center. Her research examines links among cognitive and systemic coping strategies with neuroendocrine and immune functioning in the context of chronic stress.