Psychology, Restorative Justice and Approaching Complex Situations

Psychology, Restorative Justice and Approaching Complex Situations

By Claire de Mezerville and Paulo Moratelli

(Versão em português deste artigo / Versión en español de este artículo

How are psychology and restorative practices related? Psychology is the study of the psyche, a Greek word traditionally associated with the concept of soul. We currently understand the psyche as all the processes related with the mind and its multiple dimensions: affects, behaviors, thoughts and personal relationships. Psychology is not only a theoretical field; it is a discipline oriented to actively accompany and alleviate human suffering, as well as devoted to promoting mental health for both individuals and groups. Psychology is psychotherapy, but not only psychotherapy: there is educational psychology, organizational psychology and community psychology.

The social movements for restorative justice and restorative practices, as well as their emergent theoretical developments and body of research, are nourished by many different disciplines and approaches, among them, psychology, philosophy, social work and, very importantly, indigenous traditions prior to the modern era. In the work with groups, the restorative circle is a most valuable tool to create an environment where people feel comfortable and are able to trust and participate. To build that safety in the shared space is a complex and difficult task, and the circle is an effective and quick strategy to, collaboratively, generate that feeling of togetherness. On the other side, approaches such as Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and restorative questions offer us accessible and clear guidelines in regard to conflict resolution that should become personal and professional development trainings for all citizens to build better societies. All of these strategies engage communities into critical and participatory actions to build a culture of peace. These tools will also serve people to improve their sense of self efficacy and empowerment to solve the constant issues that everyday life presents.

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