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Dr Pauline Guerin


I currently teach health and community psychology and sociology to undergraduate Nursing and Midwifery students at Flinders University in Adelaide South Australia.



Forever Young
Gender: usually female
Country of birth: USA
Ethnicity: mostly US American, but also learning more about my Polska Roma heritage as well as Austrian, Welsh, English and Irish.
Languages spoken: English, and bits and pieces of whatever I need to speak like Somali, Pitjantjatjara, Spanish, French, Maori.

What initially attracted you to community psychology?
My first academic position after completing my PhD was in the Maori and Psychology Research Unit at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. In this role, I quickly learned that Community Psychology was the only way to do Psychology in the Maori context. 15 years later, and Community Psychology has played a role in a much wider range of contexts, such as in relation to an educational DVD that we produced here at Flinders University for health professionals when working with people who have dementia (you can access that resource for free online here: http://nursing.flinders.edu.au/comeintomyworld/ ). The community in that case was the community of health professionals.

Please describe your current position.
I currently teach health and community psychology and sociology to undergraduate Nursing and Midwifery students at Flinders University in Adelaide South Australia.

What other work have you been involved in as a community psychologist?
I have worked with Anangu (Aboriginal people) in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara peoples in South Australia, with health professionals, with refugee and migrant communities in Australia and New Zealand, and continue to make myself available to any community based research and practice where my skills can be exploited!

What tertiary training (if any) do you have in community psychology?
My psychology training was actually in Experimental Psychology! I learned about community psychology from working with communities as well as delving into the literature.

What are the most valuable things you learnt in your community psychology training?
I can't really answer that, because I was not ever formally trained, in the Western sense, as a community psychologist.

Please list your academic qualifications.
Bachelor of Science in Psychology from DeSales University in Center Valley, Pennsylvania, USA
PhD in Experimental Psychology from Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Please describe any other experiences (for example, mentors, professional development activities or further training) that helped you to prepare for a career in community psychology.
Probably the greatest contribution to my learning about and understanding about community psychology were some key people from the communities that I worked with. Fatuma Hussein Elmi, a Somali woman who now lives in Australia, was, and continues to be, perhaps the most influential person on my understanding of community and community psychology. I would also acknowledge Sandra Lewis, an Anangu woman from the APY Lands in South Australia for all that she has taught me about community and people and how to do things 'the right way'. I think that working with people, in communities, is the best, and maybe even the only way, to learn.

What are the most important things you learnt in the field (or in an academic setting) about community psychology?

In what other ways do you use your community psychology training and skills?
I try to apply to principles of community psychology in a wide range of contexts. For example, I find that applying the ideas of consultation and social justice in the academic setting results in better outcomes. I also teach my classes this way and find that students and their learning benefits.

What advice would you offer to someone contemplating a career in community psychology?
In a Western context, sometimes it can be hard to see the benefits of working in a 'community psychology' way... e.g., it often takes longer to work in this way, but the benefits are also often made invisible in a Western context... the social capital benefits and the personal development benefits. I think that working in a community psychology makes people better people. I know that I am a better person for the work that I have done, and I hope that the people I work with feel the same way.

What are your research interests?
Whatever is of interest to the people I'm working with, as long as it's not too completely out of my area/ skills. I've done work mostly on mental health and well-being, but that has necessarily involved many things, such as housing, employment, reproductive health, celebrations, physical activity, residential mobility, population enumeration, education of health professionals, social determinants of health.