Hovering in places invisible to western psychology: Indigenous psychology as transformation


The growing presence of Maori knowledge (matauranga Māori) in psychology represents a trend to resist the dominance of Western psychology as a universal paradigm of wellbeing for Maori. The desire to provide alternative solutions, within an Indigenous worldview, to address inequities in health and wellbeing outcomes are also drivers for change. Indigenous psychology, as that alternative, is premised on social, spiritual, and ecological connections that emphasise an interrelated, cultural-self, and flourishing, collective wellbeing. These relational concepts contrast against individualism and mind-body, reductionist psychologies inherent in western psychology. Using a Māori-centred, theoretical lens, this paper describes the results of research conducted with Indigenous psychologists who, upon graduating from mainstream psychology training, reclaimed traditional healing knowledge. Each practitioner highlighted the unique dimensions of wellbeing as being intimately tied to family, place, language, the creative and performing arts, the environment and spirituality. By uncovering our cultural epistemologies as legitimate cornerstones to building our Indigenous psychology, we have stepped closer to enabling aspirations of self-determination, transformation and equity for our people. The growing presence of Maori knowledge (matauranga Māori) in psychology represents a trend to resist the dominance of Western psychology as a universal paradigm of wellbeing for Maori. The desire to provide alternative solutions, within an Indigenous worldview, to address inequities in health and wellbeing outcomes are also drivers for change. Indigenous psychology, as that alternative, is premised on social, spiritual, and ecological connections that emphasise an interrelated, cultural-self, and flourishing, collective wellbeing. These relational concepts contrast against individualism and mind-body, reductionist psychologies inherent in western psychology. Using a Māori-centred, theoretical lens, this paper describes the results of research conducted with Indigenous psychologists who, upon graduating from mainstream psychology training, reclaimed traditional healing knowledge. Each practitioner highlighted the unique dimensions of wellbeing as being intimately tied to family, place, language, the creative and performing arts, the environment and spirituality. By uncovering our cultural epistemologies as legitimate cornerstones to building our Indigenous psychology, we have stepped closer to enabling aspirations of self-determination, transformation and equity for our people.