Social Justice, Diversity and Leadership

Rachel Tribe, Deanne Bell


This paper will discuss what is meant by social justice in relation to counselling psychology specifically and psychology generally within the UK, as well as briefly considering social justice in the wider context. It will discuss if there is a role for counselling psychologists and psychology in promoting social justice through challenging social inequalities and promoting anti-discriminatory practice. It will review the role of counselling psychology in potentially foregrounding inclusive practice which celebrates diversity and provides leadership on this issue. It will then discuss the possible skills and theories psychologists have at their disposal to undertake work which promotes social justice and equality and takes into consideration human rights. It will provide a range of examples of where psychologists have undertaken social justice work using their training and skills and provided leadership in a range of contexts outside the consulting room. The paper will argue that taking an active leadership role to encourage the promotion of social justice is at the centre of our work as a profession, a division and as individual counselling psychologists. Counselling psychology has traditionally put individual therapeutic work at the centre of training and whilst this work is important, this paper will argue that there are numerous other roles and tasks which psychologists could usefully be involved with. These would help ensure that the requirements of service users/experts by experience (EBE) are met and that the context of their lives are foregrounded at the micro (individual) as well as the macro (contextual) level. This may require counselling psychologists to take a wider holistic or systemic perspective and understanding, advocating or intervening in relation to the structural and contextual issues which may give rise to psychological distress, and thereby promote social justice.


social justice; counselling psychology; social inequality