What is it about?

This article discusses the importance of advocacy in the field of psychology, specifically within the subfield of rehabilitation psychology. It acknowledges that psychology has faced criticism for its focus on individual responses to societal issues, including disabilities. Rehabilitation psychology has often followed this pattern by placing the emphasis on how individuals respond to disability rather than addressing broader systemic concerns. The article highlights the lack of formal training and guidance for rehabilitation psychologists in effectively advocating for their clients. The article mentions the original six Foundational Principles in rehabilitation psychology and proposes the adoption of advocacy as the seventh foundational principle. Instead of narrowly defining advocacy within individual contexts, the authors argue for a broader approach that involves working alongside the disability community and following the guidance of those with lived experiences, in order to avoid unintended consequences of well-intentioned advocacy efforts. Furthermore, the article explores various models of advocacy in the field of psychology, including those that are most relevant to rehabilitation psychology. It also emphasizes the importance of addressing current disability advocacy priorities at the individual, institutional, and discipline levels, including engaging with policymakers.

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Why is it important?

The importance of this article lies in its recognition of the significance of advocacy within the field of psychology, particularly in the context of rehabilitation psychology. By acknowledging the criticism that psychology tends to focus excessively on individual responses to complex societal issues, including disabilities, the article highlights the need for a more comprehensive and systemic approach. Rehabilitation psychology, which primarily deals with individuals with disabilities, often overlooks the larger structural and environmental factors that contribute to the experiences of disabled individuals. By emphasizing the importance of advocacy, the article encourages rehabilitation psychologists to shift their focus from solely the individual's response to disability to addressing the systemic and structural concerns that impact disabled individuals. Furthermore, the article points out the lack of formal training and guidance for rehabilitation psychologists in effectively advocating for their clients. This highlights the need for increased awareness, education, and support to equip professionals with the necessary skills to engage in meaningful advocacy efforts. The proposal to adopt advocacy as the seventh foundational principle of rehabilitation psychology signifies a call to action for the field to prioritize and integrate advocacy practices into its core values. This shift would broaden the understanding of advocacy beyond individual contexts and encourage collaboration with the disability community, centering the experiences and perspectives of those directly affected by disability. Overall, the article serves as a reminder of the importance of advocacy in rehabilitation psychology and the potential impact it can have in promoting systemic change, addressing disparities, and improving the lives of individuals with disabilities.


As a rehabilitation psychologist and disabled person myself, advocacy is especially important to me. My lived experience as a person with a disability includes encountering ableism so I know firsthand the ways in which attitudes can affect well-being

Erin Andrews
University of Texas at Austin

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Advocacy: The seventh foundational principle and core competency of rehabilitation psychology., Rehabilitation Psychology, May 2023, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/rep0000492.
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