Dr. MEL TAITIMU | CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST
Surfer, mother, wife, dancer…the list goes on.
WHAT LIGHTS YOU UP ABOUT BEING A PSYCHOLOGIST?
Most people ask me if it is draining doing what I do, I couldn’t disagree more. My work lights me up. It is a privilege to have real, vulnerable conversations with people about well-being and growth daily. I hear stories regularly that inspire me and make me feel privileged to be a witness. I don’t think I could function in a job that doesn’t dig deep, it is part of my nature. The only time my job is hard is when my life in general is hard, and that would make any job difficult. Commitment to my own well-being in life is a priority because I can then show up for my clients in an authentic way.
WHAT PISSES YOU OFF ABOUT BEING A PSYCHOLOGIST?
Hmmm…the system (see the MAIA METHOD section for a big story about this). Training is not preparing our psychologists to be real agents for change in this world. We have a unique opportunity to support people to learn and grow. When people are seeking help there is a real potential in that moment for transformation or change. Psychology can, at times, focus only on symptom reduction and both therapists and clients can leave that interaction a bit deflated. I deeply believe we can do more than that in our profession.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 3 VALUES YOU BRING TO BEING
Activism – challenging the status quo.
Vulnerability – sharing parts of ourselves we are ashamed of.
Learning – we are all students for life and psychology is a great opportunity to learn about ourselves and the world.
I truly believe that if we are going to heal from the past and grow into the future that this is a form of activism. It is a journey of challenging what we have learnt and questioning old beliefs that may not be ours or serve us. Once we release ourselves from old learning we are then given an opportunity for new learning, this is the most exciting phase of therapy to me.
WHAT WAS A PIVOTAL MOMENT OF LEARNING FOR YOU AS A PSYCHOLOGIST?
I recall a big part of my learning wasn’t in a particular moment but in the gradual realisation that we are not responsible for changing our clients. This released a huge amount of pressure and focus on finding “the right tools” to get clients to feel better, get that job, heal a trauma or whatever it was we were working towards. I have now shifted to an approach that is about creating space for clients to develop the willingness and skills to heal themselves. There is a subtle shift in language, presence and guidance that has helped me to achieve this approach. I think it comes from experience. I have had more than a few “fails” that make me cringe regarding how hard I tried to use certain tools to “fix” people in my earlier evolution as a psychologist. No doubt in years to come my approach will develop further.
That is the beauty of my profession, there is no stagnant place, it is all movement and growth for us as well as our clients.