What is Peace Psychology?

By March 12, 2015

Today’s psychology focus is on Peace Psychology. You will love this approach if:

  • You are a person who works in the arena of conflict resolution with individuals and groups.
  • You volunteer/work as a community organizer with individuals and communities impacted by war or violence.
  • You are a mental health professional who works with veterans and victims of violent crimes.

peace-psychologyPeace Psychology arose during the latter half of the 20th century, when the United States and the Soviet Union were locked in a nuclear arms race that had compelling psychological features and that threatened the survival of humankind. This sparked a counter-reaction by a generation of psychologists in the 1980s who were traditionally trained and who began to identify themselves as peace psychologists.

Peace psychology seeks to develop theories and practices aimed at the prevention and mitigation of direct and structural violence. It promotes the nonviolent management of conflict and the pursuit of social justice, and seeks to identify the processes involved in the prevention and mitigation of direct and structural violence. Its practices are largely attributed to Western psychologically trained professionals working within the world community.

What are the main praxes of this approach?

Peace psychology is a four-fold model focusing on direct violence (personal), structural violence (indirect), peacemaking (re-establishment of civil rights), and peacebuilding (collaborative sustained effort).

Within the overall movement itself, current efforts can be categorized as falling into these areas: research (how conflict occurs and its resolution), education (research findings lead to curriculum development for school age children to university programs), practice (psychotherapeutic techniques, trainings in conflict resolution, and job descriptions of civil peace workers), and advocacy (informing policy makers, expert witness testimony, how to lead peace movements).

Resources for further exploration

Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology


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