Historically psychological theory and practice has focussed on promoting and maintaining Western privilege through Western knowledge and Western ways of knowing that deny the validity of Indigenous knowledge and culture. Psychology has been complicit in the colonising process and, as a dominant discourse, has a documented past that has been ethnocentric and has objectified, dehumanised and devalued those from culturally different groups (McLeod, 1997; Nystul, 2011). Counselling, as a profession emerged, not from any perceived need within human development but in response to economic and political demands (Glosoff, 2009). In more recent times, however, Counselling is increasingly being regarded as an ‘interpersonal process’ (Teyber & McClure, 2011). Central to our ability to form a meaningful alliance with our Indigenous students/clients, however, will be our ability to develop reflective competency in, and respect for, the distinct and diverse nature of Indigenous cultural identity and experience. Valuing and respecting any aspect of contemporary Indigenous life involves a keen understanding of the impact of colonisation in Australia. It also requires counsellors to engage in a journey of de-colonisation. Such a journey will take many of us as counsellors through two mindscapes, two worlds. De-colonisation is not a simple process. Managing its complexity requires personal, professional, and social introspection, and commitment to change. Burgess (quoted in Muller, 2007) has developed a five-stage approach to support this de-colonisation process. The structure of this five-stage model will be used to explore how cultural, professional, and academic sensitivities and tensions might effectually be managed. This presentation draws on the presenter’s doctorate research findings regarding the implications for counsellors and counselling practice that lie in the stories of Indigenous adults, who as children, left their home communities to attend secondary school. The aim of this presentation is to enhance the ability of Counselling and Psychotherapy educators to develop an approach which will more fully embrace a process of de-colonization and genuine reconciliation.


counselling, psychotherapy, Indigenous, de-colonization, reconciliation


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