DR MELISSA TAITIMU PHD. DIP. CLIN PSYCH. BSC HONS. (FIRST CLASS)
Hi there. My name is Melissa Taitimu but you can call me Mel. I assume you are reading about me because when you choose to see a psychologist you primarily want to know if I am someone you will connect with. I find traditional bios can be very stock standard listing professional experience but not getting to know the person beyond their credentials. So I have given you both, my professional background and some more information about me to hopefully give you an idea about whether you think I will be a good fit as your potential therapist.
Like I said when I read bio’s in my head I am thinking blah blah blah and nothing sinks in. I tried to find a cool, quirky way of telling you about my professional life but just couldn’t find the words so here is the nitty gritty professional stuff…
I am a clinical psychologist who has been practicing for over 10 years in Australia and New Zealand. I have worked in community child and adolescent mental health, inpatient units and private settings. I enjoy working with wide range of people including adults, children and adolescents, couples and families. I am also a researcher and teacher, having delivered training in various universities in New Zealand and most recently to the general public. I enjoy writing about wellness and have published several chapters and articles
I work in a holistic manner, weaving both the science and art of psychology to support clients achieve their personal and therapeutic goals. The intention behind all of the work I do is to support people to live a life that is purposeful, rich and meaningful and not ruled by self-limiting beliefs or emotions. Within my sessions, I tailor therapy to each client’s circumstances and needs utilising a range of therapeutic tools such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Narrative Therapy, Art therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Schema Therapy and Family Therapy. Please read more about my approach to psychology under “our approach”
I grew up on the Gold Coast, yes that’s right, a true local. My father is from the Sunshine Coast and my mother is Maori from New Zealand (Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri). My family is a surfing family and I enjoy surfing as well. I am a mother of two and have been with my husband for 12 years.
When I started studying at the university level my primary goal was to work in the medical profession, however, after an undergraduate degree in Science that majored in Physiology and Psychology I realised that Psychology offered a more holistic approach to working with clients that was a better fit with my values base. I applied for the Clinical Psychology Programme at the University of Auckland in 2000 and was one of only 10 individuals (out of hundreds of applications) accepted each year. It was within this programme that I was privileged to be taught by some of the leading psychologists and theorists not only in New Zealand but the world. Upon reflection, it was a true privilege to be part of such a well established programme.
Alongside my clinical training I also completed my PhD (I always advocate a balanced life to my clients and this period of my life was in no way balanced!! Not recommended). My PhD was broadly based on indigenous psychologies and investigated Maori ways of understanding what psychiatry calls schizophrenia - link can be found here if you are interested . During this time I was mentored by some of the leading thinkers in indigenous knowledges within academia. Weaving my learning within an indigenous context with my clinical training was and continues to be one of my greatest passions. Overall my research is not antipsychiatry but advocates for service users to be provided the opportunity to access a range of pathways for healing from mental illness that includes but is not limited to medical pathways.
I am a keen traveller so after my PhD I travelled the world with my husband (no kids then) and enjoyed the learning and connections this part of my life offered. One wise man we met on our travels told my husband and I that there are three insitutions of learning - family, school and travel - I could not agree more. After travelling for a couple of years we grounded ourselves back on the Gold Coast as we appreciate the healthy lifestyle and awesome community we are part of here. I remain connected to my academic community in New Zealand and around the world and continue to write and publish as well as practice as a pscyhologist. After 10 years of working in community services I have decided in 2016 to establish my own private practice. I am extremely excited about what the next 5 years will offer professionally as I build Maia Psychological Services and The Maia Project.
Walking the talk…
There is research out there that has found psychologists can be some of the most imbalanced people, overworked, overwhelmed with limited self- care behind the care offered to others every day. I am not going to be one of those statistics. My practice as a psychologist is influenced by my personal development. I have learnt many lessons (and made a few mistakes! Isn’t that part of how lessons are learnt?) along my journey about balance, my relationship to self and others and the importance of finding purpose and meaning in one’s life. I draw heavily from my cultural background as Maori, mindfulness based techniques as well as notions of vulnerability and authenticity to guide my own path. I can honestly say I try to walk the talk, I don’t always succeed, I am not perfect, but I am an individual committed to my own personal development. Many of the techniques I share with clients I use in my own everyday life to maintain wellness and balance so I know they are helpful.
I look forward to meeting you or if you would just like to stay connected with Maia Psychological Services and The Maia Project please leave your email below and I will add you to our data base (I promise I will not inundate you with emails every week, just major events and our newsletter every couple of months).