RadPsyNet logo

Table 2

Guidelines for
Critical Psychology Practice
in Clinical and Counselling Settings

Adapted from

Isaac Prilleltensky & Geoff Nelson
Doing Psychology Critically:
Making a Difference in Diverse Settings

Critical Psychology Tenets

Qualities of the Content and Process


Content: The traditional clinical values of personal growth, protection of health, and caring and compassion need to be accompanied by attention to diversity, collaboration, support community infrastructures, and social justice.

Process: The therapeutic process needs to emphasize personal, relational, and collective values to avoid an individualistic bias that “blames the victims.”


Content: Assume that the causes or consequences of some clinical problems reflect political and psychological oppression. Assume further that experiences of oppression will require structural as well as personal solutions. Clinicians practicing from a critical perspective are aware that the language and practices of traditional helping approaches focus on social control and mask experiences of oppression and ignores the role of structural factors.

Process: Focus on clinical problems with structural causes (e.g., sexual abuse, violence against women, sexism, racism) or structural consequences (e.g., labelling, stigma, and disenfranchisement of people with serious mental health problems). Identify and name structural causes (e.g., sexism) and consequences (e.g., discrimination). Help “clients” to frame their problems in terms of structural causes, to engage in a critique of social, political, and economic arrangements, and to take personal and collective action to overcome oppression.


Content: Encourage “clients” to pursue personal and collective empowerment. Be attuned to issues of oppression and abuse and demonstrate sensitivity towards gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and other “differences” that are devalued by society. Participate in social movement activities and model for “clients” how to become involved in social change.

Process: Work in a highly participatory and collaborative manner with “clients,” sharing power over the therapeutic process. Attend to internal experiences and concrete realities faced by “clients.” Work with “clients” in natural settings and accompany them, if they so desire, to obtain resources and support from other sources or to advocate for themselves. Encourage “clients” to move beyond therapy to develop supportive social networks and to participate in self-help/mutual aid groups and other community organizations focused on mutual support and social change.


Return to Applying Critical Psychology in Diverse Settings

Home Page NoticesDocumentsLinksArchivesBooksTeaching Materials Administration Applying Critical Psychology Radical Psychology Journal

 Up to top

Updated 30 September 2007 - Contacts
RadPsyNet: http://www.radpsynet.org