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EFPA call for action: Migration phenomena and the education of psychologists

18 May 2017

EFPA Board Educational Affairs asks the 36 member associations to make efforts to encourage and support the structures of academic psychology (e.g. at Departmental, Faculty, School and postgraduate levels) in their country.

News - EFPA call for action: Migration phenomena and the education of psychologists

The call for educational programs aimed at promoting psychological Competencies in the field of migration phenomena and design of policies concerning them

Symposium EFPA 46 ECP Amsterdam : Friday July 14 2017: 16:00

The waves of migrants that have been arriving at the borders of European Countries over the course of the last few years should shake the civil consciousness of everyone, for the human tragedies of which they are sign as well as for the inability of our Countries to respond to them consistently with the values of universalism and respect of human rights that is constitutive of our culture and values. 

Impact on native groups’ ‘cultural identity’

On the other hand, the current scale of migration dynamics are different from even those of the recent past: as a consequence of the structural conditions fostering the flows (e.g. political and religious conflicts, climate changes) what has been seen so far in terms of aggregate individual acts can now be seen now as a global phenomenon.

Such a scale of change will have – and is already having - the impact of an anthropological transformation on European societies: the dimension and enrooting of new cultural groups fostered by the migration flows will have an impact on the native groups’ cultural identity.

Current policies have not been designed to address such a new scenario. What has been happening at the borders of European countries shows with tragic evidence that the new scale of migration phenomena makes many to see them only in terms of demand for humanitarian assistance.

On the other hand, we are more and more aware of how current forms of integration shows some limitations in territories where they have been carried out in convincing and systematic ways. In such contexts, policies of social cohesion have been able to promote multi-ethnic societies; yet multi-ethnic societies have shown to be unsteady balances – the recent wave of terroristic attacks have compelled us to take into account the concrete possibility that, when the scale of the phenomenon changes, also the more advanced conceptions and practices of integration may lead to ineffective results.

Rethinking Migration and integration policies

Migration and integration policies have to be rethought deeply in order to enable them to address the challenge of the new scenario. They have to be integrated with other domains of policy (e.g. education, job market, health, transportation) and endowed with a twofold purpose and target: surely the inclusion and integration of the new cultural groups; but also the capacity of the community and individuals to accommodate their own identity to the transformative demographic within dynamics of their territories.

Indeed, such transformations are more and more perceived by members of local communities as a deep threat to own identity, to their forms of life. This feeds feeling of anxiety, injustice, anger, anomy, persecution, rigidity in the way of thinking, negative and defensive attitude towards others, loss of perspectives for the future. The growing disaffection towards political systems and the wave of the sense of unsafeness, localism, xenophobia, racial crimes, spreading all around Europe are symptoms of the psycho-social impacts that the demographic changes are having on local communities and through them on the institutional and political building of European societies. 

Policy in field of migration and social cohesion: psychological science must play a strategic role

Psychology, as with other social sciences, has the responsibility to contribute to such a rethinking of policy in the field of migration and social cohesion. Many studies and theories from almost all domains of the psychology discipline (e.g. social, community, developmental, cultural, clinical, dynamic, organizational) provide significant conceptual insights and methodological indications for designing policies and interventions at the height of the challenge.

Psychological science must play a strategic role in that development because – due to its epistemological and theoretical specificities - psychology encompasses both individual and collective levels of analysis, therefore enabling psychologists to recognize the reciprocal and recursive linkages among such levels. 

Psychologists as competent professionals to implement models and methods

According to this perspective, EFPA considers a strategy where psychological knowledge can be useful to understand and intervene on migration dynamics and be made available and used appropriately. In that context, an irreplaceable role is that of academic training.

Indeed, while the dissemination is essential for promoting the social awareness and valorisation of the scientific knowledge, the latter’s use and capacity of producing value cannot but be mediated by competent professionals who have been trained to implement psychological models and methods for the sake of empowering their client and targets.  

EFPA calls for action: support structures academic psychology 

Considering this, EFPA asks the Association Members to make efforts to encourage and support the structures of academic psychology (e.g. at Departmental, Faculty, School and postgraduate levels) in their Country.

These efforts should promote and incentivise curricula and other educational initiatives (e.g. specialist training for teachers and social workers; methodological and psycho-social support to operators having extensive contact with migrant and refugee children and young people) focussing on migration phenomena.

These shall be designed to provide psychological students and/or psychological professionals as well as school teachers and other educators with the knowledge, competences, skills, and instruments required for interpreting the psycho-social issues related to the migration dynamics as well as to design, implement and evaluate interventions and policies in the field.

Who is the EFPA Board of Educational Affairs

Stephan Dutke, convenor

EFPA board present at the ECP 2017:






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