Psychology without culture is almost dead: A case of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Australian out-of-home care
From its inception as a unique discipline, the broad field of psychology has made substantial advances and has contributed to innovative practices in the care of individuals presenting with mental distress within Western Euro-American societies and cultures. The aim of this brief article is to provide a constructive critical analysis of the key limitations, knowledge shortfalls, ineffective assessment approaches and treatment modalities of “mainstream” psychology in addressing the psychological needs of children affiliating with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture in Australian out-of-home care. This article selectively draws from an in-depth analysis of the research literature and argues that in its current state, psychology without consideration of Indigenous culture has failed to satisfactorily improve psychological services and outcomes for these children and their families; in other words, psychology without culture is almost dead. This brief article raises various questions for future psychological research within this field and proposes feasible alternatives to these complex issues, supported by successful examples from the child abuse and neglect domain within the child welfare systems in Australia. It concludes with key recommendations for future appropriate inclusive psychological research, with the ultimate goal of strengthening culturally endorsed “healing” practices, service delivery and policies.