Perspectives on Decolonising – Nicole Samuel

Nicole Samuel, a current PsychD trainee, shares her perspective on decolonising

“For me, as a current PsychD trainee, ‘decolonising’ throws up many questions:

  • When will we move beyond the implicit assumption that psychology, as we know it, is universal, rather than culturally bound in its Eurocentricity?
  • Of the accepted evidence-base, theories and practices in our field, when will we routinely question: where did this come from, and who does this serve? Whose experiences does this recognise, and who does this exclude or ‘other’? Whose presence is made invisible, and whose voices are silenced? What enabled this to become the status quo?
  • Rather than labelling people as ‘not psychologically minded’ and ‘hard to reach’ when our ways of working do not neatly fit their experiences, when will we instead question whether the models and interventions we are taught were developed with their experiences in mind?
  • When will we begin to explicitly and routinely acknowledge our social identities and their inextricable influence on the ideas that we produce, consume, value and dismiss in our professional roles as students, educators, researchers and clinicians? Why don’t we do this already?

 So far, our Curriculum Working Group has been a really interesting space to begin to think together about the aspects of psychology that are foregrounded from the outset of the course, the message that this conveys, and how we might realign the course’s opening content with our vision for a ‘decolonised’ curriculum.  Moving forwards, I hope that staff and students alike will actively, explicitly and routinely ask questions such as the above, to help us to think critically about what we learn and teach. What we conceptualise through our curricula as ‘knowledge’ or as ‘valid’ is not benign – when we centralise or marginalise ideas, we centralise and marginalise people. This directly affects those we aim to serve. I hope that we can begin to embed this recognition in the culture of our course so that we can begin to take steps to rebalance the inequity this creates.”