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José Ornelas

Community psychology

Associate Professor with Tenure Clinical & Community Psychology Professor ISPA – University Institute, Lisboa Portugal

Community Psychology innovating social policies: Researching to end Homelessness


The adoption of the designation Community Psychology has emerged in 60’s as a “Psychology for Social Action”, and also as a movement whose purpose was to involve Psychology in the change of socially undesirable situations (Iscoe, 2005). Since then Community Psychology has probed to bring about a renovated intervention within Psychology integrating science and socially relevant interventions, and changing public policies (e.g. Rappaport, 1977; Orford, 1992, 2008; Francescato et. al, 2002; Ornelas, 2008, 2011; Sanchez-Vidal, 1991; Zanni, 2012).

Within specific interest domains of Community Psychology along the last 50 years, there hae been sense of community, empowerment, social support, mutual-help, participation and leadership, collaboration and coalition development, prevention approaches among others, that facilitated the focus on new ways of thinking about contextual factors, the ecological understanding of people within their environments, the influence of diversity and the role of community building (Kloos, et al, 2012) to inform science and evidence-based practices.

HOME_EU (2016-2019) is an approved grant within the European Framework Horizon 2020 that proposes to provide a contribution towards the advancement of social justice in Europe, focused on ending long-term homelessness.

The community psychology framework was essential for the research design within a convergent mixed-method approach (Padgett, 2011; Jason, Glenwick, 2012; Creswell, 2007, 2011), meeting the criteria for a multilevel analysis. The project probes to establish a dialogue in four main ecological levels of analysis: a) EU Citizens perceptions on Homelessness; b) People who are currently long-term homeless, and people that have been integrated in Housing First Programs; c) Service providers for the currently Homeless, and those in Housing First Programs; d) Key-stakeholders on policy development and EU social policies intended to respond to homelessness in order to profile each partner country on the key elements of program efficacy.

This study is intended to provide evidence-based data to inform innovation in social policies to respond to concrete social problems and life changing conditions of our time.
Key-Words: Community Psychology; Social Innovation; Homelessness

Short Bio

José Ornelas, PsyD is a Community and Clinical Psychologist specialized in the community intervention in mental health. Dr. Ornelas grew up in the Azores (Portugal); completed his first Doctoral Degree in Boston University, including an advance training in trans-cultural psychiatry with Prof. Murphy at McGill Univ.; the second in the University of Oporto (Portugal), and completed the Professorial Aggregation in the Azores University. Currently is Associated Professor at the ISPA Instituto Universitário in Lisboa.

Dr. Ornelas was the first President Elected of the European Community Psychology Association (2005), is a member of the Society of Community Research and Action (27th APA Div.).

His research interests include empowerment and recovery in community mental health, the capabilities framework for community mental health organizations, and the transformative social change in the fields of homelessness, migrations and deinstitutionalization. Recent publications include the co-edition of an APA book series on Transformative Community Mental Health, and together with doctoral students on the Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Psychological Assessment, and International Journal of Mental Health Systems, and the European Journal of Homelessness. He is a peer reviewer for the American Journal of Community Psychology, and has served has reviewer for the Universitas Psychologica, the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, also served as PhD grant reviewer for the National Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology in four Editions. Dr. Ornelas’ research efforts have earned him grants from the National Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology, and the participation as a partner in several European Projects (e.g. 2011-13 Housing First Europe VS/2011/0169, PROGRESS EU Program on Social Experimentation; 2007-11 COST Action IS0603 Health and Social Care for Migrants and Ethnic Minorities in Europe . Recently he received a Horizon 2020 Grant as Project Coordinator HOME_EU on Ending Homelessness in Europe. He is also the founder and supervisor of the community mental health program promoted by the Associação para o Estudo e Integração Psicossocial, the NGO that implements Housing First Programs for the homeless in Portugal.

José Ornelas, PsyD
Associate Professor of Community and Clinical Psychology
ISPA – Instituto Universitário
Rua Jardim do Tabaco 34
1140 041 Lisboa, Portugal



Community Psychology
Social Innovation