Professor Anthony Love
Professor, Head of School at Victoria University.
Country of birth: UK
Languages spoken: English only I regret to say.
What initially attracted you to community psychology?
I have a long and deep interest in politics and social history as well as psychology. During my initial studies of psychology, with its primary focus on lab-based studies of intra-individual factors, I concluded that this approach was too constricted when one was attempting to understand human conduct in the real world. My studies in those other fields gave me a broader basis and led ultimately to my engagement with community psychology.
Please describe your current position.
I am Professor and Head of School at Victoria University.
Please describe any other work you have done (either paid or volunteer) as a community psychologist.
My most recent project involves building participation in service delivery by cancer patients and their families in the Grampians region of Victoria. This work has involved running a series of community forums, focus groups and individual, in-depth interviews with people involved in cancer services, mainly consumers and carers.
What tertiary training (if any) do you have in community psychology?
I do not have a formal qualification in community psychology. I have undertaken a couple of units in the subject along the way but I have not completed a more structured degree. Rather, it has been a process of discovery and personal integration of the many aspects I have encountered in my career, including a political science minor in my undergraduate degree.
What are the most valuable things you learnt in your community psychology training?
I think the stand-out lesson is a better appreciation of how we are all affected by social forces of which we are often only dimly aware. Our culture values the myth that we are all ‘individuals’ making autonomous decisions. Often, we act on the basis of, say, social norms without acknowledging these forces. Community psychology helps foreground the importance of social factors in understanding human action.
Please list your academic qualifications.
PhD, MA (Clin Psych), BA (Hons), Grad Dip Tert Ed.
What other experiences (for example, mentors, professional development activities or further training) helped you prepare for a career in community psychology?
I have been fortunate to collaborate with and learn from some extraordinary people in my professional life. One outstanding example is Connie Peck, who has helped me enormously in my development. In addition, my interest in professional ethics has informed my practice. I was part of the working party responsible for drafting the current APS Code of Ethics, for example, and debating and discussing the finer points of applied ethics with a group of experts on the subject really helped me sharpen my understanding of how our conduct as psychologists can reflect competing community values as well as the needs of individuals.
What are the most important things you learnt in the field (or in an academic setting) about community psychology?
To appreciate that others’ perspectives on a problem are as legitimate as is mine. They approach it from a different position to me and are bound to see things differently.
Are there any other ways that you use your community psychology training and skills? If so, what are they?
My previous responses I think indicate how I have tried to integrate them into my everyday professional conduct and I hope into my personal life.
What advice would you offer to someone considering a career in community psychology?
Perhaps one point would be that much of the work you might want to engage with is probably not going to have the words ‘community psychologist’ in the job title. I think it is about a state of mind and of professional conduct, about how you approach problems, analyse them and attempt to resolve them, than it is about a job description.
What are you research interests?
My work mostly involves the psycho-social aspects of cancer, following the trajectory from initial diagnosis to end-of-life care. It also includes prevention and health promotion in relation to cancer.
Please add any other comments or information relevant to your work as a community psychologist.
Try to be as evidence-based as you can, while recognising that much of what we encounter in our practice is not going to fit conveniently with what you think you know.
Please list any professional memberships.
The Australian Psychological Society
The Victorian Co-operative Oncology Group