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Maori Psychology

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Identifying and discussing areas of difference between dominant Western/ Pākehā and Indigenous/ Māori models of health and well-being.

New Zealand has many different cultures that make up its society; two of these main cultures are Māori and Pākehā. This assignment will identify several key areas of difference between dominant Western/ Pākehā and Indigenous/ Māori models of health and well-being. Some studies that have tried to explain the best practice for providing mental health for Māori are; Te Whare Tapa Wha (Durie, n.d.); Te Wheke (Pere, 1988) and Te Pae Mahutonga (Durie, 1999). These models will be explained in this assignment and the issues of counselling using traditional Pākehā styles to treat Māori will also be addressed.

The traditional Western Pākehā viewpoint on health is very different from Māori, as it generally focuses on the individual and often overlooks the importance that culture, family, society and economic status can have on the client (Australian Psychological Society, 1997, as cited by, Ranzjin, McConnochie, Clarke & Nolan, 2007).

Traditional Pākehā psychological practice is based on Descartes Cartesian Dualism theory, which is when the mind and body are treated as completely separate entities. This reductionist model views disease as cellular processes with an illness-based focus and is seen as a deviation from the normal healthy state (Burton, Kowalski & Westen, 2009). The later biomedical model of health only acknowledges a biological clarification for illness, however important these biological clarifications are they still do not allow for a complete representation of the causes of illness (Burton, et al., 2009).

To understand an individual from Mäori culture it is important to understand their Tä Moko, as this depicts the individual's identity, status and Whakapapa. Whakapapa is the geneology of the individual; it defines their Tūpuna (layer in history). The Whakapapa refers to the family structure and consists of the Whänau, Hapū, Iwi and Waka (Scribe, 2003). Before the arrival of Europeans the term Whänau would have referred to several bloodline generations living together in a close community. This included people who supported the Whänau (Whāngai). The term Whänau in today's society has many interpretations; the two most commonly described are a collective of individuals connected via kinship (whakapapa) or as the result of a collective goal (kaupapa) (Te Puni Kökiri, 2000).

Māori traditionally do not operate as isolated individuals but as part of a collective group (Whänau) who share common ancestors and kinship groups (Durie, 2005). According to Shulruf, Hattie and Dixon (2011) collectivism is associated with a strong sense of duty to group, relatedness to others, seeking others' advice, harmony, and working with the group. This collective group is mutually beneficial; the individual looks after the collective, which in turn looks after the individual (Durie, 2005). This form of collective group is essential for Māori to maintain wellbeing. Māori believe Whanau ora is the perfect state of being, meaning the health of the one individual across all four elements, naturally influences the whanau and the communities they live in (Durie, 1984). There are three studies that emphasise this point.

Durie's model of understanding Māori health is Te Whare Tapa Wha, which is the total wellness of a person. It contains four dimensions: Te Taha Wairua (cultural/spiritual health), Te Taha Hinengaro (psychological health), Te Taha Tinana (physical health) and Te Taha Whanau (family health). For Māori this model emphasises the connections they have with the earth as well as the need for all four dimensions to be equally balanced. If one of the dimensions is missing or impaired, the person, or collective group may become 'unbalanced' affecting their mental and physical health (Durie, n.d.)

The most important dimension in Māori health is Te Taha Wairua. If Māori do not have a spiritual awareness and a mauri (life-force) they will be more likely to become ill or meet with adversity (Durie, 2003). They believe health is influenced by invisible and unspoken influences and lack of access to tribal land (Durie, 2003). Another area that can cause issues with western practices, is the long period of time it takes for a hospital to release a deceased relative. Māori believe that the deceased spirit is in limbo, for a short period of time between the visible and spiritual world and during that short time they have a closer bond to their ancestors, so any delay inhibits this connection (Durie, 2003).

Taha Hinengaro relates to Māori thoughts and feelings. It emphasises that to Māori the mind and body are inseparable in treating any form of mental or physical health (Durie, 2003). Therefore western medicine that uses, deductive techniques to pinpoint the exact cause of the ill heath, is not likely to be successful in treating the Maori patient. Emotional and physical communication is even more important than spoken communication for Māori (Durie, 2003).

Te Taha Tinana is the physical health. This is the closest to western thinking than any of the other dimensions, although Māori do differentiate between tapu (sacred) and noa (blessing). Areas such as the head are especially tapu to Māori (Durie, 2003).

Te Taha Whanau relates

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