Jamie is picnicking near a swiftly running stream. As Jamie takes a bite of a sandwich, she notices a man in the water, flailing his arms and calling for help. Jamie jumps in and saves the man, placing him safely on shore. The man is grateful. About 10 minutes later, Jamie notices a woman in the water calling for help. Jamie jumps in the water again, saves this second person, and pulls her safely to shore. Wet and exhausted, Jamie returns to finish her lunch. After Jamie saves a third desperate person from the water, she decides to travel upstream to see why so many people are in trouble. After walking about a half of a mile, Jamie sees that the bridge across the stream is badly in need of repair. It is the only bridge for miles, but people who cross it are in danger of drowning. Jamie must decide whether her time is best spent pulling people from the stream or gathering others in the community to help fix the bridge.
Clinical-community psychology is a lot like the story of Jamie. Individual approaches, such as psychotherapy, can be a tremendously beneficial form of helping. Yet, clinical-community psychology works to identify ways that social systems, such as families, organizations, and communities, can impact individual health and well-being. The focus of clinical-community psychology is helping to change social systems or create social settings to promote well-being or prevent problems. Instead of focusing on what people can’t do, a community approach identifies and promotes individuals’ strengths. Clinical-community psychologists often work with individuals or groups who lack power to help them create and access resources in society.