Psychology plays a fundamental role in how individuals come to understand themselves and others, and also furnishes social institutions with the apparatus that informs practice and governance. Recently, regulatory bodies in psychology (e.g., APA, CPA) have recognized—through formal apologies and task forces—their historical role in the oppression, discrimination, racism, and colonialism of groups in society. While recognition is a step in the right direction, more is necessary to move forward in more socially meaningful, responsible, and responsive ways.

Concerning Indigenous individuals, families, and communities, long-standing conceptual, methodological, and practical commitments hinder the ability of the discipline, and those working within them, to offer culturally safe and aligned support. Speaking from a non-Indigenous perspective, this strengths-based workshop considers 'communal selfhood' as a social justice-oriented theoretical space from which decolonizing, equity-seeking, and community-engaged practice can be offered. The presenter will share insights from partnerships with Indigenous communities and scholars on seeking parallel paths forward to honour Indigenous ways of being, seeing, and moving through the world in accordance with Indigenous ethics and conceptions of wellness. 


  • Awareness of main past and present colonial and assimilationist practices in Canada.
  • Consideration of the role of disciplinary psychology as a colonizing force in glo-cal (i.e., global and local) communities.
  • Shared principles among Indigenous conceptualizations of wellness.
  • The role of non-Indigenous psychology practitioners in the decolonization of mental health.
  • Reflection and statement of intentionality towards decolonization from own positionality.

This workshop will utilize a combination of silent and conversational exercises through which participants will consider their experiences with decolonizing mental health. Participants will also be presented with case studies to generate analyses of affordances and constraints of mainstream practices in serving Indigenous individuals, families, and communities and how decolonizing perspectives could be enacted.


Completing this on-demand course will result in a 2.5 CE (2 1/2 hours) credits certificate. In order to earn your credits, you are required to read the materials, watch the whole webinar, complete a survey and submit a small final assignment.


The Presenter


Elisa Lacerda-Vandenborn

Dr. Lacerda-Vandenborn is an Assistant Professor in Counselling Psychology and the Director of Apoema Research Circle. Her research program is concerned with social implications of the translations and applications of theoretical disciplinary psychology concepts and ideas into social institutional practices, particularly those concerned with child welfare and mental health systems. Drawing from critical hermeneutic philosophy and socio-cultural and critical theories, her work considers issues of epistemological justice such as whose knowledge is offered as valid and is consequently implemented in social institutional practice and legislation, which research methodologies and tools count as evidence, and whose ethical principles hold weight and are reinforceable in the academy and society. Her body of work actively seeks the revisiting, revising, and re-envisioning of the individualistic presuppositions from which research, teaching, and service are offered in the discipline of psychology and other social sciences. A central concept she proposes, the communal self, serves as a theoretical space and framework for social equity, wherein intersectional scholars and citizens can consider the decolonization of themselves, their beliefs, and practices. The communal and social justice-oriented nature of her research program aligns neatly with Indigenist and intercultural scholarship.

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