Answering the call to service the Far North | Te Whatu Ora - Te Tai Tokerau

Answering the call to service the Far North

Awanui–born Zabé Liddicoat’s return to the Far North as a newly-qualified clinical psychologist is the realisation of a childhood dream. 

“I have been determined to become a Psychologist ever since I found out what one was,” says Zabé. “As a young person growing up in this community, I saw many needs and began a search for a solution.

“As soon as I left school, I went into my studies in Psychology and worked my way through the various degrees to become a clinical psychologist (Kaimātai Hinengaro). I’m really passionate about Mental Health and building people’s resources and strengths. My aim was always to return home and share my newfound skills supporting my community.”

Zabé is now a member of Te Roopu Kimiora/Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Addiction Services with Te Whatu Ora – Te Tai Tokerau (formerly the Northland DHB). She is based in Kaitaia and works with the secondary level mental health service, supporting children and adolescents between the ages of 5-18 years who have moderate to severe mental health difficulties.

“Our service provides a team approach from initial appointment (Triage) then thorough assessments, and an individualised plan of therapies and expert supports.”

Zabé’s work consists of mainly therapy with the clients (rangatahi or tamariki) but can be parents or the whole whānau.

“I provide education and support to other parties, including teachers and schools. While the main part of my work is individualised therapies, I also complete a range of mental health assessments. The information gained from these assessments enables me to identify the best treatment or support options for those who come into our services. I work collaboratively with my colleagues to get a multi-disciplinary approach.”

As a practitioner working with individuals and whānau, Zabé says she doesn’t have a ‘one size fits all’ approach. She likes to draw on a range of knowledge to support the person and whānau.

“We are all unique, and therefore, I tailor my client’s therapy and supports on their individual needs. I’m trained in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, but I use a bit of an eclectic approach. I draw from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Trauma-Informed Practices, and other models. Our therapeutic plan is created for the whānau in front of us, rather than according to a therapy model.”

Gaining the qualifications needed to be a Clinical Psychologist is no mean feat, there are very limited places at some levels, and competition for places is intense.

“Muriwhenua is fortunate to have a young professional such as Zabé, who is not only dedicated to her field and the people she serves but also with such a strong calling to return home and give to her community,” says general manager of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Te Whatu Ora ­– Te Tai Tokerau, Ian McKenzie. “Her story is an inspiring one for me and I hope for many young people and whānau in our region.”

Zabé says that knowing she has her feet firmly planted on her turangawaewae with family nearby and the beaches she loves beckoning at the end of the work day means everything to her.

“I love being home, There is a beautiful, connected vibe that we have here. This is where I belong. Beaches, I’ve got to mention the beaches, they’re fabulous! Nothing beats a beach walk with my dog after a day of mahi.”

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