Ground-breaking Indigenous Healing Practice Training Standards launched

PACFA and the College of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Practices (CATSIHP) have launched ground-breaking Indigenous Healing Practice Training Standards. 

CATSIHP is an Indigenous-led college within PACFA, formed in 2019 in response to a call from Bundjalung and Jiman woman Emeritus Professor Judy Atkinson to take action to address the trauma of generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and walk together towards healing. 

Within the standards, Indigenous Healing Practice is broadly defined as encompassing ‘traditional, contemporary, and emerging healing modalities created by and founded in Indigenous wisdom, systems of knowledge and ways of being.’  

The standards identify 8 key features of Indigenous Healing Practice:  

- Deep listening 

- Relationships 

- Connection to Country 

- Culture 

- Family and Community healing focus 

- Mind, body and emotions 

- Indigenous pedagogy and de-colonising practices 

- Spirituality. 

CATSIHP co-Convenor Dr Carlie Atkinson said: ‘The College of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Practices Leadership Group is proud to put forward these standards, which both recognise Indigenous Healing Practices and provide a structure for their development and expansion. 

‘By providing a pathway for accreditation of Indigenous Healing Practitioners, non-Indigenous Healing Practitioners, and training programs, we have planted the seeds for Indigenous Healing Practice to flourish. 

‘There is a great need for Indigenous Healing Practice in Australia, and for the tenets of Indigenous Healing Practice – connection to Country, Family and Community – to permeate thinking around what contributes to “mental health”.’ 

The standards document articulates the minimum training and requirements for PACFA-registered Indigenous Healing Practitioners, PACFA-registered non-Indigenous Healing Practitioners and PACFA-accredited Indigenous Healing Practice training programs. 

The standards framework acknowledges that the formation of a PACFA Registered Indigenous Healing Practitioner requires integration of training, experiential learning, walking the path of healing, and understanding one’s own story in relation to the collective story and relationships.  

The standards also outline the strengths-based, holistic focus of Indigenous Healing Practice and reference some of the many modalities with which Indigenous Healing Practitioners engage, including: 

- forms of talk therapy as part of processes of deep listening and yarning 

- body-based therapies 

- mindfulness and deep resonance techniques 

- animal assisted therapies 

- cultural practices 

- bush medicine 

- dance, movement, art 

- ceremony and/or story-telling and story-making.  

‘As the relationship to country and ancestors is foundational to Indigenous Healing Practice, a healing session may take place outside or it might include aspects of nature within the session – for example using smoke, ochre, totems or other natural objects to support the connection to Country and ancestors,’ the standards state. 

We will inform PACFA members when applications for accreditation are open – this is expected to be in early 2022. 

The PACFA Board and CEO Johanna de Wever acknowledges the contribution and commitment of the members of the CATSIHP leadership group in developing the standards: Dr Carlie Atkinson (Chair), Emeritus Prof. Judy Atkinson, Dr Kate Briggs, Rayleen Councillor, Danielle Dyall, Bianca Field, Thaedra Frangos (Project Officer), Dr Graham Gee, Anne Jenkins, Scott Kratzmann, Miranda Madgwick, Dr Gavin Morris, Gina O’Neill, Richard Scott, and Bianca Stawiarski.  

Read the Q&A with Dr Carlie Atkinson about CATSIHP and the Indigenous Healing Practice Training Standards. 

Read the member profile of Dr Carlie Atkinson.