Description: How does (or just Does) Psychology deal with culture? How does (or just Does) Psychology deal with historical trauma? How universal are Psychology theories and applications? How these questions are understood and how they are addressed are important for how Psychology comes to terms with its past, present and future engagements with indigenous persons. After considering the findings and recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2015), a taskforce was constituted by the Canadian Psychological Association and the Psychology Foundation of Canada and tasked with reviewing the Commission’s report and “develop[ing] concrete, action-oriented recommendations to improve the field’s service to First Nations, Metis and Inuit populations in Canada. The following statement comes from page 8 of the taskforce report:
The profession of psychology in Canada developed in the same political climate and colonial context that gave rise to the residential school system and participated in the process of cultural genocide. The profession of psychology, in its interaction with Indigenous Peoples in Canada has contravened its own code of ethics. The Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists has four main principles:
1.Respect for rights of dignity of persons and people
3.Integrity in relationships
4.Responsibility to society
What does this suggest that Psychology needs to do and how does that relate to the questions that opened this post above? Think about that and then have a look at the task force report, and if not at the whole report than at the section starting on page 8 that discusses how the principles of the Canadian Psychological Association code of ethics ought to have been applied to Psychology and Psychologists’ engagement with First Nations, Metis and Inuit people in Canada
Source: Psychology’s Response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Report, A report of the Canadian Psychological Association and the Psychology Foundation of Canada, May 2018.
Date: October 6, 2019
Photo Credit: ammsa.com
So, what might it mean to indigenize Canadian Psychology or Psychology in general? The taskforce report has a number of potentially useful principles, responsibilities, and considerations that are worth looking through and well worth going back to as your understanding of what indigenizing Psychology might involve but where to start? At its simplest level, a good start involves seeing the assumptions that the mainstream Western version of Psychology holds deeply and, in ways that are true of many mainstream or majority view assumptions, quite unreflectedly or unconsciously. Seeing its subject or basic unit of analysis as individual human beings whose core psychological perspectives, functioning, and wellbeing are more basic that issues of culture and history is a basic assumption of Western Psychology. Challenging that assumption opens the door to seriously considering the role of culture and history in our theories of human development, mental health/healing, and wellbeing. I will be posting more on this topic in the weeks to come but for now think a bit about how Western Psychology approaches theorizing about individuals and about what might need to be changed if we are to begin to indigenize Psychology.
Questions for Discussion:
- What does each of the 4 ethical principles from the Canadian Psychological Association noted above involve?
- How might the assumption that humans are best understood as individual beings first with cultural and historical influences on their development, functioning and wellbeing being secondary consideration be a problem for how Psychology approaches the development, functioning and wellbeing of Canada’s First Nations, Metis and Inuit people?
- What should we (you) look at next order to broaden your understanding of what it might mean to indigenize Psychology?
References (Read Further):
Katz, R. (2017). Indigenous healing psychology: Honoring the wisdom of the First Peoples. Simon and Schuster. (comments on the book can be found here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/finding-meaning-in-life-s-struggles/201802/indigenous-healing-psychology )
APA Task Force on Indigenous Psychology https://www.indigenouspsych.org/ https://www.indigenouspsych.org/