Vicary, D.A. & Bishop, B. J. (2005). Western psychotherapeutic practice: engaging Aboriginal people in culturally appropriate and respectful ways. Australian Psychologist, 40(1), 8-19.

Until recently the majority of psychologists in Australia have been confronted by the lack of information relating to culturally appropriate methods of engagement and therapy with Aboriginal clients. Findings from a qualitative study undertaken in Western Australia indicated that Aboriginal conceptualisations of mental health appear more holistic and contain elements that are both cultural and spiritual. The extent of these differences in conceptualisations from Western psychiatry and psychology are so vast that the mental health interventions need to be reconsidered. Extending from an Aboriginal mental health model are traditional treatments that endeavour to address the cultural and spiritual components of the mental illness. Findings from the study indicated that these treatments appeared to be hierarchically organised, depending on cause, severity, type of practitioner required and treatment. The findings also indicated that Aboriginal people generally seek traditional interpretations and treatment of an illness and exhaust these avenues prior to contact with the Western mental health system. The research also delineated Aboriginal beliefs about Western psychotherapy, including conceptions about Western therapy. The authors propose an engagement model, including formative preparation, for non-Aboriginal practitioners intending to work with the Aboriginal community.