Principles of Indigenous Ethics and Psychological Interventions

Natasha A. Tassell, Averil M. L. Herbert, Ian M. Evans and Patricia TeW. A. Young

in The Oxford Handbook of International Psychological Ethics

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199739165
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Principles of Indigenous Ethics and Psychological Interventions

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  • Psychology
  • History and Systems in Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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The importance of indigenous principles in undertaking psychological assessment, interventions, and applied research is increasingly being recognized and acknowledged in most formal codes of ethics for psychologists. Nevertheless, specific ethical guidelines still tend to reflect the established assumptions of the dominant academic cultures. This chapter highlights additional principles and relevant issues at different levels of ethical judgment. At the deepest level are fundamental concerns over power differentials, especially when interventions are designed, controlled, and evaluated by practitioners from majority populations (colonization). At other important levels there are questions concerning the recognition of indigenous knowledge, alternative worldviews regarding psychological well-being, and different cultural values with respect to privacy, consent, and the rights to effective treatment. At a more practical level are issues of treatment acceptability and access, adequacy of the evidence base, prioritization of treatment targets, and training and career development opportunities for indigenous practitioners.

Keywords: psychology; ethics; intervention design; indigenous knowledge

Article.  10600 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; History and Systems in Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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