Call to Action!

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The Future Psychology Initiative aims to ensure that psychology remains a robust, resilient, and relevant profession in the New Zealand health services and potentially other social services. It was started by practising psychologists and teachers in  professional psychology training programmes (participants are shown below) who believe that it is important for psychology to be proactive in positioning itself and evolving how it operates to ensure that it remains strong in the face of the inevitable future changes in funding, organisation, work practices, and priorities of the health and social services sector[1]. The Future Psychology Initiative includes members of the NZ Psychological Society (NZPsS) and the NZ College of Clinical Psychologists (NZCCP) and hopes to work closely with these and other organisations. The Initiative started in Auckland but has been attracting interested psychologists from around the country to participate in the Action Groups it is establishing.  

Action to Date: Mapping a Pathway Forward

The Future Psychology Initiative held a workshop for psychologists in Auckland in July 2014 that started exploring issues for psychology in health and social services and began generating strategies to address these issues and maintain/increase our robustness, resilience and relevance[2]. Subsequent workshops and discussions at NZPsS annual conferences (2014 and 2015) and at the NZCCP annual conference (2015) ensured that psychologists nationally had input into defining the issues and potential strategies for moving forward. Other workshops to canvas these issues have also been held by groups of psychologists around the country.

More than 230 psychologists have participated in workshops to date. Themes emerging from the large- and small-group discussions at these workshops were documented, summarised, and presented to the next workshop to inform and advance the discussion. From the themes identified at these workshops, there emerged five Areas for Action. These are summarised in the following table:

Area for Action

Brief description

Enhancing our Professional Practice and Identity

This focuses on how psychologists understand and practise their own professional role. It aims to ensure that psychological practice is evolving so it will remain sought-after and valued by health and social services and by clients. The target audience for this Area for Action is psychologists and the practice of psychology.

Building Advocacy and the Profile of Psychology


This involves increasing knowledge of, and positive attitudes towards, psychologists and the contribution they can/do make. It may also involve addressing workforce issues that limit the contribution that psychology makes. Its target audience is the public and stakeholders such as service users, employers, other health professionals, and government agencies.

Psychology’s Response to Cultural Factors


This aims to assist psychological practice and training to more fully reflect an increasingly multicultural Aotearoa New Zealand and to ensure that the psychological models and approaches used by psychologists are as culturally appropriate and responsive as possible.  Its target audience is psychologists and the practice of psychology.

Increasing Leadership by Psychologists


This aims to increase the involvement of psychologists in clinical and organisational leadership by enhancing their level of skill and attitudinal readiness to undertake such activities. It also aims to increase the opportunities and support for psychologists to take on and sustain leadership roles and activities. Its target audience is psychologists and others who may enable or block leadership by psychologists.

Improving Training and Professional Development


This involves ensuring that both pre- and post-qualification training enables psychology to remain strong (robust and resilient) and relevant to clients and employers. It also involves ensuring the training supports wellbeing and sustainability for psychologists. Its target audience is the training institutions and staff within them, and funders and providers of other professional development opportunities.

Moving Ahead: Walking the Talk

second picA workshop in June 2015 began to define short and longer-term strategies within each of these Areas for Action, and started to recruit people to work within small Action Groups to achieve the strategies that were identified.

We are asking for your participation

with these Action Groups.

We are asking for psychologists from around the country, who are interested and prepared to put energy into improving the future of psychology, to volunteer to join the Action Groups for the different Areas of Action outlined above. It is envisaged that these Action Groups will act relatively autonomously. As the groups are likely to include people in different parts of the country, they will mostly use electronic means of communication (e.g., Skype and email). A Coordinating Group, which at present consists of the current members of the Future Psychology Initiative, will provide support, encouragement, and coordination between the various Action Groups. Generally, at least one member of the Coordinating  Group will be an active member of each Action Group. 

Interested? Next Steps

If you may be interested in participating in one of the Action Groups, please:

  1. Look at the table above and decide which Area for Action you are most interested in participating in a small group to help bring about change.
  2. Email the contact person for the group that you are most interested in being involved with

Enhancing Professional  Practice and identity

Trish Du Villier:

Building Advocacy and Profile of Psychology

Tina Earl:

Psychology’s Response to Cultural Factors

Epenesa Olo-Whaanga:                                 

Increasing Leadership by Psychologists

Mike Butcher:

Training & Professional Development

Fiona Howard:













What Will Happen Then

This person will then contact you and give you more information about the development of the group for that Area for Action. The people who have signed up for the same Area for Action as you will then finalise the strategies and how you as a group (or subgroups for different strategies) want to tackle them.

A Call to Action! 

Psychology in health and social services in Aotearoa New Zealand faces many possibilities and challenges into the future.  It will be important for psychologists to be actively involved if we wish to have a future in which psychology remains robust, resilient and relevant as a profession and as a significant contributor to the wellbeing of society. The Future Psychology Initiative aims to be an additional resource that, along with the professional organisations, can help to make this happen. We would very much value your involvement and energy in making this happen. 

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Future Psychology Initiative Coordinating Group

Anita Bellamy, Epenesa  Olo-Whaanga, Fiona Howard, Helen Lenihan, Ingo Lambrecht, Iris Fontanilla, Jackie Feather,  Julian Reeves, Kerry Gibson, Malcolm Stewart, Marleen Verhoeven, Mike Butcher, Mimoza Soldatovic, Nigel George, Tina Earl, Trish Du Villier, Willem Louw,

[1] Some of these possibilities and challenges were outlined in the 2014 articles “Evidence and wisdom: The role and value of psychologists in healthcare” by Malcolm Stewart, John Bushnell, Jennifer Hauraki, and Margaret Roberts: Journal of the New Zealand College of Clinical Psychologists, 24(1), 3-14, and  “Psychology in Aotearoa – where are we going?” by Anita Bellamy, Jackie Feather, Kerry Gibson, Fiona Howard, and Ingo Lambrecht: Psychology Aotearoa, 6(1), 15-18.

[2] Other updates on the work of the Future Psychology Initiative have been published in the NZCCP ShrinkRap and the NZPsS Psychology Aotearoa.