NACCHO #Aps2016 Australian Psychological Society issues a formal apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People | NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alerts

  “Apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People from the Australian Psychological Society. Disparities between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and other Australians on a range of different factors are well documented. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience much higher rates of psychological distress, chronic disease, and incarceration than other Australians.

“They manage many more stressors on a daily basis and, although suicide did not exist in their cultures prior to colonisation it is now a tragically inflated statistic.

The fact that these disparities exist and are long standing in a first world nation is deplorable and unacceptable.”

“We, as psychologists, have not always listened carefully enough to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We have not always respected their skills, expertise, world views, and unique wisdom developed over thousands of years. Building on a concept initiated by Professor Alan Rosen, we sincerely and formally apologise to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians for:

  • Our use of diagnostic systems that do not honour cultural belief systems and world views;
  • The inappropriate use of assessment techniques and procedures that have conveyed misleading and inaccurate messages about the abilities and capacities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people;
  • Conducting research that has benefitted the careers of researchers rather than improved the lives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants;
  • Developing and applying treatments that have ignored Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander approaches to healing and that have, both implicitly and explicitly, dismissed the importance of culture in understanding and promoting social and emotional wellbeing; and,
  • Our silence and lack of advocacy on important policy matters such as the policy of forced removal which resulted in the Stolen Generations.

“To demonstrate our genuine commitment to this apology, we intend to pursue a different way of working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that will be characterised by diligently:

  • Listening more and talking less;
  • Following more and steering less;
  • Advocating more and complying less;
  • Including more and ignoring less; and,
  • Collaborating more and commanding less.

“Through our efforts, in concert and consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, we envisage a different future.

“This will be a future where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people control what is important to them rather than having this controlled by others.

“It will be a future in which there are greater numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander psychologists and more positions of decision making and responsibility held by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Ultimately, through our combined efforts, this will be a future where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people enjoy the same social and emotional wellbeing as other Australians.”

Read the full article at this source: NACCHO #Aps2016 Australian Psychological Society issues a formal apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People | NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alerts


Writing About Damaged Communities

People have been attempting to alter the course of human society through writing for centuries. Charles Dickens arguably brought the attention of the world to bear on the plight of the Victorian poor in Britain, and the newly awakened social consciences of his audiences help to push through various reforms which improved the lives of street urchins, prostitutes, and those in the workhouse. Or so the theory runs. According to some social historians, the ‘Dickens Effect’ can’t be credited with nearly as much social reform as we tend to believe. So can writing really be a means by which a troubled communal psyche may be healed?

‘Talking Cure’, ‘Writing Cure’

As with everything, it probably depends upon how it’s done. We all know that ‘talking cures’ can be hugely beneficial to certain people struggling with individual psychiatric issues. Writing can also help these people. It helps to express what we’re feeling and, by so doing, work our way towards the heart of the matter. While such things won’t work for everyone, for some they bring about revelations, self-awareness, and reveal the path to healing. Such ‘talking cures’ have been attempted on a communal level with things like the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which allowed people on both sides of the nation’s divides to come together and tell their stories – with no small degree of success in raising awareness of the other point of view, and healing rifts. However, it requires a good degree of self-awareness already on the part of the troubled society to set something like this up. Before we can reach this point, this awareness needs to be triggered. Some people feel that writing is a good way to go about this. And sometimes they’re right – but it has to be done properly…

Agenda VS Audience

A great many people have attempted to bring the fractures in a community’s psyche to the attention of those both within and without that community via writing about them. Fiction has since time immemorial served as a parabolic way in which to explore our personal and societal truths, foibles, and conventions. Indeed, many traditional shamans use the power of story and myth prominently in their healing ceremonies – by using well-known stories to illustrate the complexities of the human psyche, they can bring the unconscious into a state of self-awareness. And by using trusted characters as proxies for the suffering individual, they can guide the sufferer through their own psyche as they guide the character through the story. Some writers attempt to do this kind of thing on a wider scale through the power of agenda-driven fiction. The trouble with this, however, is that if the agenda is displayed too overtly, readers lose interest. Nobody likes to feel that they’re being accused, or preached to while they’re trying to enjoy a good book. A very skilled and popular writer may get away with wearing their agenda on their sleeve, but others will have to hone their craft to get their message across and raise societal self-awareness without alienating their audience.

Engage And Educate

Let’s go back to Dickens. Plenty of historians have, as we mentioned, pointed out that his influence upon reform may not have been as great as we assume. No single piece of reformist legislation can be traced back to him or his influence. However, we still believe him and his literature to have been a reasonably big factor in the social reforms of the nineteenth century. Why? Because his characters stick in our minds, as do his stories. The adjective ‘Dickensian’ is still used to describe a situation in which the poor are exploited and mistreated. Because of Dickens, we are aware of what went on back then, and fully believe in preventing such situations from arising again. While Dickens may not have directly influenced legislation at the time, he has certainly ensured that we are self-aware enough about the potential ‘Dickensian’ cracks in our societal psyche to defend ourselves against such horrors in future (or so we hope…). He did this by not only educating people regarding parlous situations about which they may simply not have known, but by weaving his social lessons into engaging stories borne by memorable (and loveable) characters. It is his style, and the ability of readers to engage with his tales and his characters which keeps them in the forefront of the public imagination – not the lessons he seeds them with. If, therefore, you wish to enact a ‘writing cure’ for your particular communal troubles, be sure that people are engaged enough with what you’re writing to develop that vital self-awareness you’re aiming for.


Former Dictator of Guatemala Is Guilty of Genocide Against Mayan Group

Former Leader of Guatemala Is Guilty of Genocide Against Mayan Group

Here is the link to the NYT article.  We previously reported on this case – he was previously found guilty but that judgement then overturned.  It is good to see justice at last.  Note the involvement of psychologists in testifying for the prosecution case.

‘Adama Dieng, the United Nations special adviser on the prevention of genocide, said last month that the case was the first in which a former head of state had been indicted by a national tribunal on charges of genocide.

‘The “historical precedent,” and especially a guilty verdict, he said, could serve as an example to other countries “that have failed to hold accountable those individuals responsible for serious and massive human rights violations.”’



2016 Newsletter, Community Psychology, Liberation Psychology & Ecopsychology Specialization, Pacifica Graduate Institute

Dear Friends,

Please enjoy this year’s Hearing Voices, our newsletter from the Community Psychology, Liberation Psychology, Ecopsychologyspecialization of the M.A./Ph.D. Depth Psychology Program at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, CA.
This newsletter highlights some of the socially and environmentally transformative work of our students and faculty. Our students engage each year in community and ecopsychological fieldwork and research in a wide variety of contexts around issues they are passionate about. Through coursework and fieldwork experiences, they are preparing themselves to meet the needs of their communities through work in non-profits, schools and colleges, foundations, social movements, community groups, and academic-community partnerships. They are contributing to an eco-liberation psychology approach to the environmental, community, and cultural issues that challenge us today.
Some of the highlights this year include a section, “For the Sake of New Justice,” that focuses on the work of students within the carceral system and in efforts “outside” for restorative justice; the outcome of meetings between Students of Color and Racial Justice Allies in “Why Groups for People-of-Color and Racial Justice Allies”; and the initiation of a exchange program with Colegio de la Frontera Norte as part of our Borderlands Initiative.” We welcome your interest!
Please forward to friends and colleagues who might be interested.  We are currently accepting applications for Fall 2016.  We welcome your interest!  Please follow the link to Hearing Voices Volumes 1-3.
Mary Watkins, Nuria Ciofalo and Susan James, Professors

Stop the persecution of Academics for Peace in Turkey

Three academics were placed in pretrial detention on 16th March, Muzaffer Kaya, Esra Mungan, and Kıvanç Ersoy. Ersoy teaches in the mathematics department at Mimar Sinan University and Mungan in the psychology department at Boğaziçi University. Kaya was recently dismissed from the social work department at Nişantaşı University for signing the petition. They were detained and then jailed by a court a day after President Erdoğan called for the crime of terrorism to be widened to include expression which he judges “serves the aims of terrorists,” and which would target professions such as journalists, politicians, and activists. His remarks came after the March 13 bombing which killed 37 people in Ankara’s city center.


Petition link:

The Turkish government and the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan continue to oppress political dissent violently and illegally in Turkey. On January 11, President Erdoğan accused 1128 academics of treason for signing  a call for peace in Turkey. In the call, the signatories stated that they would not be party either to the massacre against the Kurds or to Turkish’s state’s ongoing violation of its own laws and international treaties. Following Erdoğan’s speech, hundreds of academics who signed the petition were subject to disciplinary and criminal investigations, detentions and suspensions.

In response to this witch-hunt, we had signed a letter in support of academic freedom in Turkey and asked for ending the prosecution of Academics for Peace. The letter was submitted to MPs and MEPs in Europe and published in the media in January.

Yet the Turkish government did not heed the call for academic freedom and had intensified the witch-hunt against the Academics for Peace. As of 10 March 2016, the toll was as follows:
Public Universities       Private Universities
Disciplinary investigations                 464                                43
Criminal investigations                      153
Detentions                                          33
Suspensions                                       27
Contract termination                           9                                   21
Forced resignations                            5                                    1
Furthermore, on 15 March 2016 three academics were incarcerated for signing the original call of Academics for Peace and announcing that they will start an ‘Academic Vigil’. The arrested academics are:  Esra Mungan of Boğaziçi University, Kıvanç Ersoy of Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, and Muzaffer Kaya, formerly of Nişantaşı University.

A fourth academic and a UK citizen, Chris Stephenson of Bilgi University, was detained for holding a vigil outside the court in support of the three academics and for carrying a Newroz (Kurdish New Year) invitation from a parliamentary party – the People’s Democratic Party (HDP). On 16 March 2016, the case of Chris Stephenson, who has been resident in Turkey since 1991, was transferred to another court with the demand of being deported, and he had to leave the country.

We ask the international community and elected representatives to call on the Turkish government to stop the witch hunt against Academics for Peace, respect academic freedoms, free the arrested academics, and re-instate all the academics suspended or expelled during the persecution campaign with compensation.

Petition link:


Julian Assange

Posted on behalf of network member Nozomi Hayase.  If you’d like to make contact, substitute [AT] with @ in this address: nhayse[AT]

Statement in Support of Julian Assange’s Freedom

We are psychologists committed to supporting the health of individuals and communities. We practice the psychology of liberation, which acknowledges the effects of social and political oppression in contributing to individual suffering.

One of great liberation psychologists of our time, Jesuit priest Ignacio Martín-Baró, observed how people live “burdened by the lie of a prevailing discourse that denies, ignores, or disguises essential aspects of reality” and are made to conform to “a fictional common sense that nurtures the structures of exploitation and conformist attitudes”. With this understanding, he initiated the practice of “the de-ideologization of everyday experience” to “retrieve the original experience of the oppressed and return it to them as objective data”.

Decades after his death, the liberatory praxis of Martín-Baró has been rekindled on the global stage. In spring of 2010, a little known whistle-blowing site, WikiLeaks blazed onto the global stage with the release of the Collateral Murder video, a classified U.S. military footage depicting an Apache helicopter killing of Iraqi civilians.

WikiLeaks’ subsequent revelation of government secrecy brought crucial information, evidencing the way States and transnational corporations steal the original experience of people, manipulate perception and exert control over their lives. Through these disclosures, people are now gaining a truer understanding of the world and beginning to transform themselves from state victims to active agents to take hold of their own reality.

Martín-Baró was murdered by the US backed El Salvadorian Army for challenging the official narrative of governments who silence the voice of dissidents and those who oppose exploitation and human right abuses. Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks has become such a target for political retaliation. For the last five and half years, he has been detained without charge (first in prison and solitary confinement, then house arrest, and now for more than three years in asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy). We recognize him as an icon who stands up for the truth and engages in a similar struggle for justice.

On February 5, 2016, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) ruled that Julian Assange has been arbitrarily detained since 7 Dec 2010. In support of their findings, over 500 human rights organizations, law professors, former UN office holders, and high-profile rights defenders signed an open letter condemning UK and Swedish governments’ blatant rejection of the UNWGD’s decision and urging them to ensure the right of freedom for Assange. This statement was released at the 31st United Nations Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva.

(here is the link to the original letter;

We stand with this open letter concerning Sweden and the United Kingdom’s active defiance of the UN decision and we demand Assange’s freedom.

In addition as psychologists, we contend that the situation Assange has been subjected to by these governments created not only physical but psychological alienation, as he is denied and deprived of the basic need to be a part of a community and has been marginalized through demonization by the Western governments and media. Maintaining healthy human contact with the outside world and ones family and friends is a foundation of basic health. We express concern for the effect of such deprivation of psychological needs in the long term.

Martín-Baró once remarked to a North American colleague, “In your country, it’s publish or perish. In ours, it’s publish and perish.” WikiLeaks, as the publisher of last resort, continues this same battle that Martín-Baró and others engaged in, risking their lives and freedom to defend those who are oppressed around the world.

For the liberty of Julian Assange, we urge Sweden and the UK to respect the UNWGAD’s deliberation and show the world that Western enlightenment values and rule of law can triumph over barbaric forces of state terror and oppression.

Unlike the time of Martín-Baró, we hope now we can work toward creating a world where journalists can publish and not perish; that speaking up for the truth and the oppressed is no longer a crime, but is something all of society can celebrate.


Mr. Assange has not been charged with any crime in any investigation conducted in Sweden. 

Both women explicitly denied having been raped. One woman says she was “railroaded by police” and they made up the charges. Early on, Assange was cleared of the suspicion of ‘rape’ by a chief prosecutor in Stockholm before it was then reopened by another prosecutor.

For more information, visit Justice for Assange.



Indigenous children in North America and the damage done by diagnostic labelling

An article of interest, one of a series by the author on this subject has appeared in the online journal Indian Country.

Betrayal by Labels: The Feebleminded, ADHD Native Child


Diagnosing Native children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and treating them with stimulants does nothing to improve their educational or intellectual growth. Even worse, it sets them up for failure. Such an idea may upset the many caretakers, educators and mental health providers who think they are helping so-called “ADHD children,” yet Native children have been sabotaged by a similar mentality for generations.

Read the rest of the article at

New book: Liberation Practices

This new book, edited by Taiwo Afuape and Gillian Hughes, both based in London, contains contributions from several members of this network.  While not specifically about Liberation Psychology, there are multiple references to the ideas of Ignacio Martín-Baró and to Liberation Psychology.  Click the image to go to the publisher’s page.  (If you’d like a pre-publication draft of the chapter by Carolyn Kagan and I, then send an email via this site’s contact page.)

image of book cover: Liberation Practices, Routledge, 2016



Registration is open for the 6th International Community Psychology Conference

Sixth International Conference on Community Psychology (ICCP)
27 – 30 May 2016
International Convention Centre, Durban, South Africa

REGISTRATION NOW OPEN 6th International Conference on Community Psychology
Global Dialogues on Critical Knowledges, Liberation and Community International Convention Centre, Durban, South Africa
27-30 May 2016
Join us in Global Dialogues on Critical Knowledges, Liberation and Community in
Durban, South Africa in May 2016!Please click here to register; see website for more information.
SincerelyMohamed Seedat, Conference Chair
Shahnaaz Suffla, Conference Co-chair

COnference logoConference leaflet, including call for contributions:  CLICK HERE.


About the Liberation Psychology Network

We’ve updated our “About” page which gives information about the network and its purpose.  It is worth posting it here too.  Why not download the pdf version, print it off and distribute it at your events, put it on the noticeboard, or discuss it with a colleague?

About Liberation Psychology and this network

You can download this as a pdf file for distribution at your event etc.

This international network helps users of English discover and share resources, experiences and new directions in Liberation Psychology.


Liberation psychology began in Latin America. It drew on currents of radical and critical praxis from that region and beyond and was first proposed by Ignacio Martín-Baró at the Universidad Centroamericana in El Salvador.

Some Liberation Psychology material has appeared in English, but most, including nearly all of Martí- Baró’s work, is only available in Spanish. It deserves being better known by those who do not read Spanish.

Liberation psychology is relevant to the work of psychologists and their allies concerned with oppression and exclusion, social trauma, social movements and resistance in the global South, and in core countries of the world system. Many people use English either as a first language or as their route of access to the international literature.

Latin American liberation psychology has focussed on the particular situation and identity of Latin America but exclusion and exploitation happens everywhere. If the Liberation Psychology of Martín-Baró and other Latin American comrades was the first Liberation Psychology, our world desperately needs a Second Liberation Psychology, not to replace their efforts but to take them further so we have a global Liberation Psychology for the extremely challenging situation that we find ourselves in more than 25 years after Martín Baró’s murder.

The Network:

  • Connects like minded workers, who are often isolated, to share their understandings and practical experience of liberatory approaches and to offer mutual support.

  • Provides access to the key ideas and works of Latin American liberation psychology and kindred approaches.  Our website links and hosts English language works (written as well as audio-visual)  Network members with knowledge of Spanish and/or Portuguese are key bridging resource.

  • Offers a bridge between workers in Latin America and other regions of the global South, and with those in core regions concerned with the “South” in our midst (exploitation, migration, war, (neo-)colonialism and exclusion of the Other).

  • Explores what Liberation Psychology means in contexts other than Latin America.

  • Hosts this web portal and blog which is enabled as a social network, and an email list.  See how to use the site.

The network is what its members make it. The possibilities are only limited by our imagination, energy and willingness to try new ways of doing Liberation Psychology: the constructively practical critical psychology.