Exploring Hidden Assumptions of Culture in Child Psychotherapy in Aotearoa New Zealand – A Hermeneutic Literature Review

Cadogan, Nicky
Woodard, Wiremu
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Master of Psychotherapy
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Auckland University of Technology

Child psychotherapists in Aotearoa New Zealand work in diverse settings with children, young people, and families from a variety of cultures. Our nation’s colonial history and its impact on society are factors which necessitate a critical perspective of how culture influences every aspect of our work. However, there is widespread debate about the way in which culture shapes our therapeutic encounters with clients, and the extent to which the effect is conscious or unconscious. International research has identified an urgent need for the child psychotherapy profession to carefully consider the implications of cultural difference; while in the Aotearoa New Zealand context, concerns have been raised about the dominance of Western-based models of practice to the exclusion of other approaches. This research utilises a Hermeneutic philosophy and methodological framework to review literature relating to how hidden assumptions about culture influence child psychotherapy. The question I set out to answer was: How do assumptions about culture influence therapeutic practice in child psychotherapy in Aotearoa New Zealand? Literature from social and cultural constructionist traditions facilitate a critical evaluation of my own therapeutic work and generate thinking about the opportunities for child psychotherapists in Aotearoa New Zealand to find a dynamic approach to practice that best suits our local context.

child psychotherapy , culture , cultural awareness , cultural difference , therapeutic practice
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