Clarifying a muddy pond: A Pākehā therapist’s account of navigating a critical moment in the integration of narrative therapy and person-centred therapy

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Sarah Penwarden



In this paper, as a Pākehā[1]/non-Māori therapist, I reflect on my desire for integration between two diverse modalities: person-centred therapy and narrative therapy. Drawing on the dissonance experienced in a moment of a conversation where I responded solely with one modality, I question whether integration of diverse approaches is possible. I consider the extent to which I, as a therapist, am integrated. I conclude that theoretical consonance might not be possible, and an alternative goal might be integration in the therapist between their therapeutic actions and intent. Through actively reflecting on intentions beneath the surface of the work, for me, a muddy pond became clear.


[1] Pākehā denotes a non-Māori New Zealander (King, 1999). Traditionally, this term has referred to white British settlers of Aotearoa. Current debate exists about whether the meaning of the term should be widened to include more recent non-Indigenous migrants to Aotearoa/New Zealand. The term Pākehā suggests a “relational identity’” in that “to fully inhabit that identity, is to be permanently oriented to Māori, as well as to know about our historical entanglements” (Jones, 2020, pp. 124, 108).


Keywords: counselling, therapy, integration, person-centred therapy, narrative therapy


Address for Correspondence
Sarah Penwarden
Email: spenwarden@laidlaw.ac.nz