DR MEL TAITIMU
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 14 years in Australia and New Zealand. Early in my training, 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. During this time I was mentored by indigenous leaders within academia. Weaving my learning within an indigenous context with my clinical training was and continues to be one of my greatest passions.
I have worked in community child and adolescent mental health, inpatient units and private settings. I enjoy working with wide range of people. 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 wellbeing 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 am commonly referred to as a Mozzie (Maori/Aussie) 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 since we were young and wide eyed at university.
I have been asked on many occasions, what drew me to psychology? To be honest, I deeply believe this path was meant to be and that I have whanau (family) and ancestors who have guided me to end up on this path. I didn't always want to be a psychologist, but a number of serendipitous events lead me to being exactly where I am, doing what I am meant to do.
I am a keen traveller and have learnt a significant amout connecting to people and places all around the world. One wise man we met on our travels told my husband and I that there are three institutions 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 wider 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 psychologist. After 10 years of working in community services, I decided in 2016 to establish my own private practice. In 2020, I am working on building the MAIA community to include online training, events, masterclasses and retreats.
Oh and I have an alter ego called "Classic Melanie" (don't worry it isn't a dissociative thing!). This is that part of me that holds on to the wonder of childhood. Classic Melanie climbs trees, does cartwheels, surfs, says silly things off the cuff, is slightly impulsive (like jumping off waterfalls - safely), laughs until her belly hurts and enjoys eating whatever the hell she wants! We are all multifaceted and I embrace that in myself as well as my clients.
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 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 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).