Scholarship award after trying therapy to suit Maori women

Miriama Ketu-McKenzie
Miriama Ketu-McKenzie
A hunch Maori women could benefit from a non-Western therapy prompted a Dunedin psychologist to embark on an unusual study.

Dunedin Hospital psychologist Miriama Ketu-McKenzie has been awarded a New Zealand Psychological Society scholarship for her research into the effects of mindfulness on the stress hormone cortisol.

The eight women in the study had had a stressful childhood with adverse experiences.

In a couple of weeks, they will start a mindfulness programme with Dunedin practitioner Kovido Maddick. Their cortisol levels would be checked before, during, and after the eight-week programme.

It includes meditation and yoga, in addition to group activities, as well as individual practice.

Mrs Ketu-McKenzie said she believed mindfulness was more in keeping with the Maori world view than the likes of cognitive behavioural therapy.

"Mindfulness may be more attractive to Maori," Mrs Ketu-McKenzie said.

Maori lived in a more communal way with emphasis on relationships, she said.

Mrs Ketu-McKenzie, who moved to Dunedin from Tauranga a year ago, said recruiting enough women for the study was not easy. She believed Maori were likely to be under-counted as a demographic in the South.

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