Māori are more likely to be assessed and treated by a health practitioner trained within a western cultural system that pays little attention to Māori worldviews and continue to experience misdiagnosis, non-voluntary admissions, inappropriate psychometric testing, high suicide rates, limited choices, differences in medication regimes and poorer treatment outcomes.
Training the health workforce to recognise and respond appropriately to Māori worldviews and to challenge dominant ideologies is an integral part of addressing health, economic and social disparities between Māori and non-Māori. Psychology training programmes have been slow to address these issues as they are deeply attached to Western models of psychology and tend to control or ignore indigenous worldviews.
This research project intends to challenge this hegemony and apathy by drawing on the wisdom of practitioners experienced and successful in using Māori cultural concepts and frameworks in their therapeutic work with Māori. The involvement of those who control and direct clinical training at all NZ universities in the process of this research will contribute to the study results, being used to transform the training of clinical psychologists and that of related health professionals.
Employing the critical incident technique, practitioners will be able to identify the knowledge, awareness and skills needed to work with Māori. A thematic analysis will be applied to organise and make ‘sense’ of the information in relation to the research goals. An expert-group comprising indigenous academics, psychologists and community group members will theorise the critical incidents specifically for their value for training and professional development.
The study aims to produce a theory and practice-based curriculum that will contribute to the development of an indigenous psychology, and ultimately, to reversing the disproportionate burden of negative mental health experienced by Māori.
In her presentation Waikaremoana talks about the results of her work so far, and starts to articulate what cultural competence is and how policy should evolve to reflect best practice.
Waikaremoana Waitoki (Ngāti Hako, Ngāti Mahanga) is a Research Officer in the Māori and Psychology Research Unit (MPRU) at the University of Waikato. She is also a Clinical Psychologist specialising in mental health. She is one of the Bicultural Directors for the New Zealand Psychological Society and the Co-convenor of the National Standing Committee on Bicultural Issues (NSCBI). Her broad interests are in mental health, cultural competency, curriculum development, cultural supervision, indigenous psychology and research. Waikaremoana advocates for kaupapa Māori inclusion in all parts of psychology education and practice. She holds a nidan grade in Kyokushin karate, competes in full-contact fighting tournaments and also instructs rumaki-tamariki karate classes and adult classes.