Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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A Feminist Critique of Clinical Psychology Training Programmes in Aotearoa New Zealand

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posted on 2021-11-08, 04:29 authored by Barnett, Heather Anne

This thesis provides a feminist critique of clinical psychology training programmes in Aotearoa New Zealand. Taking a feminist standpoint epistemological position I argue that most clinical psychology training programmes do not adequately incorporate analyses of gender, or convey an understanding of the connection between women's sociopolitical positioning and psychological health. The central focus of the thesis is to examine the way analyses of gender and other relations of power are included in clinical psychology curricula. The curriculum is important because it reflects and reproduces dominant psychological knowledge and impacts on the way clinical psychology is practiced. To examine these issues, questionnaires were administered to fifty clinical psychology students and twelve academic clinical psychology staff in six Aotearoa New Zealand universities. Some of these participants also completed a further interview. Additional interviews were undertaken with eleven feminist clinical psychologists. Taking a feminist methodological position, my research involved systematic thematic analysis using a constant comparative approach, as well as the use of quantitative analysis. The research findings, in conjunction with attention to the broader ontological, epistemological, theoretical and methodological foundations of the clinical psychology curriculum, highlight the ways in which psychology's dominant discourses minimise the effects of gendered structural relations and continue to marginalise women's experiences, realities and material lives. As such, an underlying argument of this thesis is that clinical psychology participates in the reproduction of gender inequities, and may perpetuate rather than alleviate the 'psychological' difficulties women experience. The thesis concludes by offering ideas for the future development of clinical psychology training which takes a critical-realist approach to the construction of knowledge, offers multi-level epistemological analyses grounded in the diverse experiences of women and other marginalised groups, and locates gender and other analyses of power as central to the clinical curriculum.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Gender and Women's Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Education


Neale, Jenny; Morris-Mathews, Kay