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In Point Park University's Department of Psychology, faculty and students frequently collaborate on research together, publishing their work in a variety of industry journals. 

Professors Robert McInerney, Ph.D., and Autumn Redcross, Ph.D., recently worked with students Hannah Felix, Tatyana Johnson and Samuel Merhaut to author a chapter about community psychology for the American Psychological Association Handbook of Humanistic and Existential Psychology. Each student wrote about their distinctive experiences with the application of community psychology, an approach that explores the social and cultural influences on mental health and well-being across communities, including prevention, diagnosis and treatment of mental illness, to gain a better understanding of human experience and behavior. 

"I hope that our work shows not only the need for community resources and support but also the power of that community and caring connection," said Felix, who wrote about her experiences working within the realm of peer support and radical mental health for the publication. 

In the Q&A below, the students share insights from their research and their overall Point Park experience.

Hannah Felix '21 '25

Major: B.A. in Psychology; Ph.D. in Critical Psychology

What did you learn from this experience?

I was reminded how important community resources are for individuals, especially for those who are often disregarded and not listened to. There are some very concerning things happening in today's world, especially in regard to bodily autonomy, civil rights and personal freedoms. This project reminded me exactly how much community programs are needed, especially as more states are losing access to much-needed care and support in aggressive ways.

What does it mean to you to contribute to this type of work while you’re in school?

It means a lot to me to have been included in this work. I have never felt “academic," especially as someone who started my higher education journey in my 30s. To have the opportunity to work on this project with such amazing, brilliant people has been phenomenal and such a learning experience. I gained so much inspiration from working with Dr. McInerney, Dr. Redcross, Tatyana and Sam. They all have such big hearts and are doing great things in the community. The inspiration I gained to continue fighting for equality and kindness, in the face of so much blind and misinformed hatred, has been the most beneficial part of this project for me. 

Why would you recommend Point Park’s Department of Psychology to a prospective student?

The smaller class sizes create more opportunities to connect with students and professors in meaningful ways, but the most important thing that Point Park offers is a much more humanistic approach to studying psychology. Point Park teaches psychology in a way that focuses on the experience of being human and how being in this world affects us and our mental health every day. We look at how people have historically been pathologized, questioning the monopoly of the medical model of understanding that can often be reductionistic, invalidating and othering. Students are encouraged to examine the intersectionality of systemic social issues such as racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, sanism, classism and generational traumas that have informed the structural foundations our society is built upon and recognize how these factors deeply impact a person’s life and mental well-being. 

Point Park's Department of Psychology embraces the value of lived experience and encourages students to look critically at the intersectionality of systemically othering social structures and mental health. To me, that feels important because it means appreciating and honoring the voices and stories of our communities and their members, not pathologizing them. 

Tatyana Johnson '22 '23

Major: B.A. in Psychology, M.A. in Community Psychology

What did you contribute to this project and what did you learn?

I shared my experiences on both the receiving and providing ends of nonprofit services in the Pittsburgh area, along with the challenges I have encountered navigating a system full of community members adhering to the nonprofit industrial complex.

I learned the importance of maintaining a resolute practice with the work that I do. I was able to reflect on the reason why I do the work I do, which is something I will take with me for the rest of my life as I remain critical of the systems I navigate to enact change.

What does it mean to you to contribute to this type of work while you're in school?

It means a lot to me that Dr. Bob felt inclined to reach out to me for this work. He and Dr. Redcross have been incredibly instrumental in my education, but this served as a reminder that I have been through a lot and walked away with more knowledge than I give myself credit for. Each challenge I describe in my contribution to this chapter happened while I was in school, and it takes a toll on your self-esteem to feel behind. I am very grateful to have been part of such a project!

Why would you recommend Point Park's Department of Psychology to a prospective student?

Funny enough, there was a time when I considered transferring out of this program because I initially wanted to go to another school, but I stayed because of faculty like Dr.Bob, Sarah Schulz, Ph.D., and Dr. Redcross, as I appreciated their approach to pedagogy and praxis. I love the way that our program can be critical of the medical model and how the professors inspire their students and provide opportunities such as this project to help us develop experience in the field. 

Samuel Merhaut '21 '25

Major: B.A. in Psychology, Ph.D. in Critical Psychology

What did you contribute to this project?

I wrote a few pages about the practical application of community psychology in my work as a street population outreach worker, particularly as it concerns a harm reduction approach to the work and the ethics of mobilizing the concept of communitas. I wanted to offer a brief, reflexive piece about the implementation of the ideas we’re promoting without necessarily locating ubiquitous, comprehensive solutions to the events and problems I encounter in my work within them. 

What did you learn from this experience?

Since this is my first contribution to a publication, I learned about the publication process and caught a small glimpse of what it looks like from the “et al” perspective. I look forward to doing work like this again in the future. 

What does it mean to you to contribute to this type of work while you’re in school?

I know that publishing is the expectation for doctoral students, so I’m relieved to have been a part of something that will be floating about in the deep, vast sea of academic literature. Hopefully, someone comes across it and is challenged by the possibility of a different way to conceptualize and be with people. It’s also very exciting to be writing and publishing with the people I’ve learned alongside and from in the department. I think that most of us would agree that we prefer a “boots on the ground” approach to the concepts we care about; learning, writing, and publishing are only the very beginnings of the project we wish to work towards. Our scholastic work is only as good as the difference we strive to make with our activism and our work. This publication means we have only just begun what I hope is a lifetime of work towards radical, transformative potentials, seeking to be the disruptive element for metastable, reductionistic and totalizing ways that we might otherwise think about and work with people. 

Learn more about community psychology in this video with Brent Dean Robbins, Ph.D.:

Read more about Point Park's psychology programs:


More About: success story, School of Arts and Sciences, Psy.D. in clinical-community psychology, psychology, Psy.D. in clinical psychology, faculty research, M.A. in clinical-community psychology, faculty, Confluence Psychology Alliance, M.A. in community psychology, child psychology