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Psychologist from Tanzania Meets with APA Staff

In Tanzania, psychology as a discipline does not stand on its own. At our universities, for example, there are no departments of psychology.

By Amena Hassan

In an ongoing effort to promote psychology in Tanzania and create a stronger base for the newly-formed Tanzanian Psychological Association (TAPA), Fr. Bonaventura Balige visited with APA staff in March to gain insight on the structure of psychology within the United States. After meeting with Norman Anderson, PhD, APA CEO and Mike Honaker, PhD, APA Deputy CEO. Balige talked with staff across the association, including Barbara Spruill, Director of Membership, Jamie Chamberlin, Assistant Managing Editor of the Monitor, Lynn Bufka, Assistant Executive Director of Practice Research and Policy, and Kim Mills, Associate Executive Director of Public and Member Communications. Psychology International had the opportunity for a brief question and answer session to find out about what Fr. Balige hoped to accomplish on his trip to the United States.

PI: How is psychology different in Tanzania in comparison to other countries?

Balige: The only countries I know, as far psychology as concerned, are Tanzania and the USA. There is a very big difference between the two countries. In Tanzania, psychology as a discipline does not stand on its own. At our universities, for example, there are no departments of psychology. Psychological services are not regulated in Tanzania as in the US. There is no licensing of psychologists.

PI: What types of improvements in psychology/in mental health services would you like to see in Tanzania?

Balige: I would like to see the newly formed Tanzanian Psychological Association (TAPA) grow into a well organized association that will have an impact on psychology in Tanzania. I would also like to see the government be more involved in the promotion of psychology in Tanzania. The psychological model has to grow alongside the medical model, in the approach to mental health treatment in Tanzania. The government and other mental health stakeholders have developed the medical model while neglecting the psychological model. We need both. I hope TAPA will work hard to speed up the development of psychological services in Tanzania, and it will help the government in establishing necessary measures to regulate psychological services.

PI: What did you learn at APA that will be helpful to building the Tanzanian Psychology Association?

Balige: The most important thing I learned was that there are people wishing us well, who would like to see TAPA grow. It gave me hope that we, in TAPA, are not alone. I was well received by everyone at the APA offices, and everyone I met was happy to hear about the initiatives we are taking. The main aim of my visit at APA was to get to know people so that whenever we have questions we know whom to ask. That was achieved beyond my expectations. Overall, my visit was fruitful and the ideas I received from APA will help us as we get on our feet. For example, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Mike Honaker briefed me about the internal structure of APA. The difference between the governance structure which comprises all elected officials who have no salaries, e.g. president, etc, and the internal structure which comprises employed staff, who are experts that carry out all the activities of the association, was very enlightening. We shall remember this as we are electing our leaders. In June we are having our General Meeting, and the main activity of the meeting will be to elect the leaders. This will be our first General Meeting since TAPA received its registration.

PI: Who else are you meeting in the United States?

Balige: The major purpose of my trip to the U.S. was to seek some financial help from individuals and foundations in the USA to complete our counseling center in Moshi, Tanzania. I visited David Johnson, a PhD student at North Carolina University who secured me a return ticket. I met David in Moshi, Tanzania where he had come to do some research in schizophrenia at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center (KCMC). While in North Carolina, David introduced me to some professors at North Carolina and Duke Universities who are also involved in mental health treatment. I also visited Denver and Chicago for the same purpose.

PI: How have you benefitted so far from your visit to various cities within the United States?

Balige: I have made important contacts that will be beneficial to our cause. No money yet but I am still hopeful. Ψ