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School of Psychology
In partnership with the Family Centre,
Lower Hutt, Wellington, and the Taos Institute


Post-Graduate Diploma in Discursive Therapies
M.Phil in Psychology


In recent years, a group of therapeutic practices have developed that are concerned with how people make sense of their worlds, and, when the sense people make of their worlds leads to problems for them, how better or more preferable ways of making sense may be constructed in therapy. This Diploma provides an overview of the theoretical background to some of these therapeutic practices, and related issues with respect to culture and gender in psychological practice.

This Diploma is unique in a number of ways. First, it stems from a partnership between the School of Psychology at Massey University, the largest University in New Zealand, with over 30 years experience of distance teaching, and the Family Centre, Lower Hutt, Wellington, which is internationally recognized for its pioneering therapeutic, social policy and research work. Second, it draws its materials from leading contributors and practitioners from around the world. The management structure and ethical principles that guide this programme are based in values shared by the various contributors. Teaching is through a combination of Web-based lectures, readings and discussion groups. It is not a 'practice-based' qualification, but an academic one.

The Diploma can be completed over 1 year as a full-time student, or over 3 years as a part-time student.

On completion of the Diploma, students will be qualified to progress to a supervised thesis, the successful submission of which would fulfil the requirements for the award of a Master of Philosophy degree. Note that progression to the M.Phil programme is not automatic, and individual applications need to be approved by the University's Academic Board.

Note: This Diploma has gained final academic approval & validation at Massey University, as of August 2001. It will be available for part-time students as a 3 year course of study from February, 2004, and for full-time students as a 1 year course of study from February, 2005. Details of enrolment and application procedures are available from the School of Psychology's website, and application forms are available on line in both .pdf and .rtf formats. Note that the application process is a two-part one. Students need to apply for admission to the Diploma, and, if accepted, then follow the University's normal enrolment process. This can make the process rather drawn out, so early applications are advised.

Further information can be gained from the Massey University Calendar, or from the programme coordinator, Professor Andy Lock. Brief details of individual courses and contributing teaching staff can be found below. More detailed information on syllabi can be found below, linked to the outlines of each of the component courses. The next intake will be in February, 2007. Applications are invited now.

Paper Number and Title Coordinators
175771 Contemporary Theoretical Perspectives Prof. Andy Lock and Dr Tom Strong
175772 Contemporary Therapeutic Perspectives Prof. Andy Lock and Dr Tom Strong
175773 Principles of Just Therapy The Family Centre, Lower Hutt, Wellington
175774 Issues of Culture and Gender in Psychological Practice The Family Centre, Lower Hutt, Wellington
175775 The Narrative Perspective Profs. Michael Bamberg & Vincent Hevern
175776 On-Line Professional Seminar Dr. Lois Shawver
175777 Special Topic Dr. Lois Holzman

Prof. Andy Lock
Massey University
Dr. Tom Strong
University of Calgary

Prof. Ken Gergen

Prof. Mary Gergen
Pennsylvania State University
Prof. Rom Harre
Prof. John Shotter
University of New Hampshire

Contemporary theoretical perspectives

Postgraduate Diploma in Discursive Therapies


175.771 Contemporary theoretical perspectives (30 credits)

This paper presents an overview of the sources that have animated contemporary therapeutic practices. The focus will be on the writings of particular theorists who are drawn on: (1) for understanding the ways in which language and conversation function; (2) as the 'background' to the contemporary schools of therapy dealt with in the parallel 175.772 Contemporary Therapeutic Perspectives course; (3) to establish how peoples' views of the world are constructed; and (4) to understand the 'conversational' nature of therapeutic practice itself. It will also deal with the emerging empirical literature on discourse processes, subject positioning in discourse, and the exercise of power in conversational, everyday life.

Prof. Andy Lock
Massey University
Dr. Tom Strong
University of Calgary

Dr. Susanna Chamberlain


The Houston Galveston Institute
Dr. Harlene Anderson
Dr. Sue Levin
Dr. Saliha Bava


Prof. Gale Miller
Marquette U.
Dr John Briggs

Dr Theresa Zakutansky
Solutions Behavioral Health Group

Contemporary therapeutic perspectives
Postgraduate Diploma in Discursive Therapies

175.772 Contemporary therapeutic perspectives (30 credits)

This paper outlines a number of contemporary schools of therapeutic practice, for example, narrative therapy, collaborative language systems therapy and solution oriented therapy. In each case, orienting material is provided by leading figures in each of the schools, and this is complemented by case notes and examples of therapeutic practice that make concrete the background material dealt with in the parallel 175.771 Contemporary Theoretical Perspectives course.

The Family Centre
Lower Hutt

Warihi Campbell
Kiwi Tamasese
Flora Tuhaka
Charles Waldegrave

Principles of Just Therapy

Postgraduate Diploma in Discursive Therapies

175.773 Principles of Just Therapy (15 credits)

Among the various schools of contemporary therapies, Just Therapy is perhaps the most explicit in linking theory and practice to the broad contexts of the cultural, social, spiritual, economic and psychological factors underlying the problems experienced by those with whom therapists work. This course presents an in-depth view of the foundations and working of this approach, and the ways in which it reflexively incorporates its emphasis on social justice into the organizational structure of its everyday work, thus making concrete how the issues of gender and culture dealt with in the following course can be put into practice.

The Family Centre
Lower Hutt

Warihi Campbell
Kiwi Tamasese
Flora Tuhaka
Charles Waldegrave

Issues of culture and gender in psychological practice

Postgraduate Diploma in Discursive Therapies

175.774 Issues of culture and gender in psychological practice (15 credits)

    Issues of culture and gender are fundamental to the way in which people create meaning, both for themselves and others around them. This course explores these issues in the therapeutic and broader social contexts. It will highlight the way in which cultural and gender identity has often been absorbed and marginalised into mainstream dominant perspectives. Using the "Just Therapy" approach, practices that affirm cultural and gender identity, meaning construction and ways of doing things as being fundamental to good health, will be addressed. The contexts of study will include the therapeutic situation, agency structures and the broader social environment.

Prof. Michael Bamberg
Clark University
Prof. Vincent Hevern
Le Moyne University

The narrative perspective

Postgraduate Diploma in Discursive Therapies

175.775 The narrative perspective (15 credits)

Note: This course will not be available to new students accepted into this programme in 2007 or subsequently. See course 175.777 Special Topic below

How meaning is constructed and the world is construed is a central concern of the therapeutic schools covered in this programme. Contemporary accounts of how people make sense of the world point to the 'storied' nature of human understanding. This course examines the emergence of narrative or story construction as an increasingly influential and integrating paradigm within psychology. The conceptual foundations of the narrative perspective will be traced thematically, with particular attention paid to autobiographical memory, self-narrative and identity development. Contributions of the cultural and social constructionist traditions to narrative psychology will be cited throughout.

Dr. Lois Shawver
San Fransisco

Dr Lynn Hoffman
New York
Dr. Valerie Lewis
Western Australia

On-line seminar in contemporary professional development

Postgraduate Diploma in Discursive Therapies

175.776 On-line seminar in contemporary professional development (15 credits)

This is a participatory course conducted through an electronic forum. Students will explore issues of the nature of therapeutic relationships, ethical considerations, and the central theoretical ideas animating the programme reflexively in a conversational format. Particular case studies and current dilemmas arising in the work of participating practitioners from the varying therapeutic schools studied in the other papers of this programme will provide a focus for articulating the practical relevance of the main academic content covered throughout the programme.

Lois Holzman, Ph.D.
New York

Fred Newman, Ph.D.
New York


Special Topic:
Social Therapy
Postgraduate Diploma in Discursive Therapies

175.777 Special Topic: Social Therapy (15 credits)

This course will introduce participants to the fundamentals of social therapeutic method through selected readings from its founders and commentators. Topics to be covered will explicate the objectives of social therapy, and include: human development and group creativity; the enhancement of sociality and engagement of alienation; the unique creativity and power of the group; how to relate to the group as the unit of development; the importance of group heterogeneity; the therapy group as a performance ensemble. The particular contributions of Marx, Vygotsky and Wittgenstein to social therapy will be emphasized.

Note: The 'special topic' is normally an opportunity for a student to take a course that meets their particular goals that falls outside the the list of courses above, but credit it to the award of this qualification. For 2007, the 'Social Therapy' course is introduced into the programme to replace the 'Narrative Psychology' course under the 'Special Topic' number. Students wishing to take advantage of the original intentions of the 'Special Topic' option should discuss this with the Programme Director



Last modified: 2 November 2007 © Massey University 2002