20 December 2023

A first for our newest Clinical Psychologist

Congratulations to Kaikohe Psychologist and Massey University’s first Pacific Clinical Psychology graduate, Dr Rochelle Nafatali. Rochelle is one of our approximately 150 psychologists, and is based in Kaikohe. Her work takes her to other Northland Community Corrections sites and NRCF.

Her team is naturally very proud of her achievement. “We are very proud to have Rochelle qualify as a clinical psychologist following her internship with our Taitokerau psychologist team,” says Manager of Psychological Services - Taitokerau Angela Nelmes. “She enhances our team with her warm nature and cultural knowledge, and brings a valuable diversity to our work as psychologists.”

Following her graduation in Palmerston North on Friday, Rochelle returned to congratulatory flowers in the Kaikohe office.

Rochelle started at Corrections as a Psychology Intern in 2021, before taking time off to complete her research. She rejoined the Taitokerau psychologist team after becoming a registered clinical psychologist in August 2023.

For her doctoral research, Rochelle looked at Pacific understandings of autism, how Pacific families experience autism on a daily basis, their support needs and access, and how language and culture were being maintained within Pacific families raising autistic children.

It’s a subject close to her heart, as her son is autistic.

Since completing her research, she has delivered numerous talanoa, webinars, and presentations across Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and online, sharing the research findings with the Pacific autism community and health and education professionals.

She says the appetite for the results of her research is significant.

“Professionals want to know how to be more inclusive and accommodating of neurodiversity and how to work effectively with Pacific communities.”

If she could impart one piece of wisdom to aspiring psychologists, it would be “to engage in therapy yourself, know your ‘why’, and bring your whole self to the role; don’t leave your culture or your personality at the door. These are the things that will hold you through the challenging times in becoming and being a psychologist.”

By sharing her success Rochelle hopes to encourage other Pacific scholars into psychology.

Read more about Rochelle’s research which was conducted using Pacific methods of teu le vā, talanoa, and fa’afaletui – or weaving together through relational and cultural dialogue the shared experiences within each fale (house), and across Pacific families.

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