Collaborative Mental Health Therapy: A Book Review
This book explores a living collaboration between a traditional Mãori healer in New Zealand and a clinical psychiatrist. Mãori healer, Wiremu NiaNia outlines the key concepts that are the foundation of his worldview and work. The main text recounts true stories of individual young people and the experiences of their families from four perspectives: the psychiatrist (Allister Bush), the Maori healer, the young person themselves as well as their family members. The reader sees the workings of collaborative mental health therapy: the beginning of the assessment, what happened during the process when everyone is in the room, and the outcome.
Since Wiremu NiaNia can intuitively “see” via his 6th sense (ESP) how much of the issue is physical (e.g. brain damage), how much stems from psychological trauma, and how much is metaphysical, he is in the best position to define how the collaboration with a conventional psychiatrist can work. The healer may educate the patient on metaphysical forces and/or do spiritual healing, including ritual to moderate negative influences. The MD can attend to physical issues and offer effective psychotherapies to dissolve the negative impact of trauma. All this takes place within the clinic or close by.
In 2014, the unpublished manuscript won the prestigious Ashton Wylie Book Award. Wiremu has since become a well sought after presenter at numerous conferences, seminars, workshops and symposiums internationally and nationally, speaking on numerous topics including traditional healing in clinical settings. He also offers training.
This book is essential reading for psychologists, social workers, nurses, therapists, psychiatrists and students interested in cross-cultural studies and improving mental healthcare. (IMHU is an admirer but has no financial interests in selling this book.)
It’s time that the indigenous wisdom cultures add their brilliance to mental healthcare. A qualified Shaman or highly-gifted and trained medical intuitive is able to see into the real cause of mental disturbance. They can identify the cause(s) as well as the most effective care that leads to recovery. When they collaborate with a licensed integrative psychiatrist true healing can take place. I’ve seen this in Brazil in Spiritist Psychiatric Hospitals where highly trained mediums work together in diagnosis and defining treatment protocols. Their collaboration with licensed psychiatrists has been ongoing for 100 years in Brazil—with successful outcomes.
Our mental healthcare system is in need of an overhaul. By all measures, we have a higher percentage of the population crippled by mental health issues than ever before in history. The promise of psychiatric drugs has not been fulfilled. We don’t agree on the causes of mental “illness”; nor do we agree on pathways to recovery. We are stuck with identifying symptoms, even rethinking if mental illness really exists, and trying not to diagnose normal responses to life as mental illness. (See book review of “Drop the Disorder”). Collaborative mental health therapy deserves a place at the table in reworking mental healthcare internationally.
Emma Bragdon, PhD, is the Executive Director of Integrative Mental Health for You, IMHU.org. She has written books and created documentary films on Spiritist Psychiatry in Brazil. She leads an annual seminar for healthcare providers in Brazil about Spiritist Psychiatry. EmmaBragdon.com.
If you liked this article, consider the online courses at IMHU.org:
- How Shamanism Can Benefit Health with Karen Lawson, MD
- Brazil Seminar: A New Paradigm in Mental Healthcare with Emma Bragdon, PhD
- New Models for Residential Treatment and Collaborative Care
- Our Full Roster of Presentations at IMHU