Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Psychology

Counselling Psychology in Aotearoa/New Zealand: Introduction to the Special Section

Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Psychology

Counselling Psychology in Aotearoa/New Zealand: Introduction to the Special Section

Article excerpt

On behalf of the New Zealand Journal of Psychology, we would like to welcome you to a special section focusing on counselling psychology. The discipline had its genesis in Aotearoa/ New Zealand in 1985 when members of the New Zealand Psychological Society (NZPsS) formed a Division of the Society, which later became the Institute of Counselling Psychology. The New Zealand Psychologists Board has recognised counselling psychology as a scope and is in the process of approving competencies. There is currently one accredited training programme, at Auckland University of Technology (AUT), which has been producing graduates since 2011. Counselling psychology is well established internationally, and currently most counselling psychologists in New Zealand are overseas-trained.

Counselling psychology is perhaps unique as an approach, as its defining scaffolds are at once phenomenological, developmental, systemic, empowerment- and enhancement-focused, ethical, cultural and spiritual (Feather, 2011). The model is neither fixed nor necessarily representative of the ideas of all those who may classify themselves as counselling psychologists. In each context in which it has developed, the discipline has evolved in response to the needs of the community that it serves. In this country, counselling psychology continues to advance in consultation with colleagues, industry partners and the public. The overarching question is always, what do all these parties want and need from us that might be unique and different from existing psychological services? In part, this is the reason it is difficult to find a common definition of the discipline in the literature (Gibson, Stanley & Manthei, 2004). Having said that, historically and philosophically, counselling psychology very clearly positions itself as a union between scientific models of functioning and more humanistic contextual views.

Internationally, there are commonalities with our local development and experience (see for example, Pelling, 2004). The struggle for identity is a common theme, and this is evident in some of the articles in this special section. How do we differentiate counselling psychology from clinical psychology, counselling or psychotherapy, or for that matter, from educational or community psychology? What is unique and different about counselling psychology? Who or what is the focus of our endeavours? Connell's Southern Theory (2007) gives some insight as to why these questions may be particularly pertinent in the New Zealand context. We have reason to value connection to theories and practices emanating from European and American centres of power and influence, but this can undermine our own ideas and experiences. We are a small, remote society and, notwithstanding the ubiquitous connection modern technology provides, it often feels like a mismatch: "You know, it's right what you say, but it is not the way we think" (Balinese man to anthropologist Unni Wikan, 1991, p. 285). Maori have experienced this mismatch and marginalisation since the arrival of the first European settlers. In a way, all New Zealanders are now in a similar position to Maori (not to minimise the devastating effects of colonisation) whether we are of indigenous heritage, well-established Pakeha or more recent immigrants. Northern voices are loud but don't seem to fit. The idea of Southern Theory can help us assert the legitimacy and appropriateness of locally generated ideas with which to understand our experiences (Burns, 2009). This then is a rationale for a "ground-up" development of counselling psychology theory, research and practice in this country, and is evidenced in a number of the articles in this special section.

Farrell (2013) opens with a past-present-future look at the field of counselling psychology. As he describes the paradigm, he does so from the point of view of a counselling psychologist, showing his intersubjectivity as he positions himself squarely within the tradition. …

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