Christina M. Bobesky, Ph.D., Program Director
Lori McCrohan, M.S. Student in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Psychological sense of community (PSOC) can be described as belonging to a larger structure with benefits of interdependence (Sarason, 1974). Although psychological sense of community is more complex than simply belonging to a community. It also involves a sense of loyalty, connection, and trust while holding a duality of influence; the individual influences the community while also being molded by the community.

Lori describes the security of growing up in a rural farming town in the Catskill mountains.

“I found that many people I encountered unfairly viewed small towns as backwards and farmers as uneducated. These perceptions are often supported by negative depictions in movies and television programming. [But] my personal experience in a small rural town is consistent with the research of Sarason (1974) (as cited in Walker and Raval, 2017) which notes that college students who grew up in rural towns reported experiencing aspects of PSOC  such as being known and knowing those around them, as well as the interdependent aspect of community support in both hardships and in celebration. This sense of collective support can come from familiar or unfamiliar community members. I recognize and value the connection that I had to my community and the secure foundation that it provided during my formative years. Town activities like dances were an anticipated tradition that everyone looked forward to each year. These marked the beginning of another crop growing season. Because my family had generations proceeding it in this small town, I grew up feeling known. Kane and Ellis (1996) (as cited by Walker and Raval, 2017), report that individuals in rural communities depend on each other and value ties with their families and faith community. These relationships provide a source of support which may assist in maintaining mental health in rural settings where mental health services are not as readily available. I took the security that growing up in a small town provided for granted and realized it’s value when I left home.”

At Cazenovia College, we value student experiences. In the next blog entries, we will continue to explore student upbringing and the role this has played in shaping their worldview.

Walker, B. L., & Raval, V. V. (2017). College students from rural hometowns report experiences  of psychological sense of community and isolation. Journal of Rural of Mental Health, 41(1), 66-77.,1037/rmh0000059