Ian McDougall

Ian McDougall was elected a Life Member of the New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists in 1992, in recognition of his contribution to the advancement of psychotherapy in New Zealand. The Association continues to honour, respect and value that contribution.

Ian first became interested in psychotherapy as a medical student in the 1950s. He qualified as a psychiatrist in the 1960s and practised as a psychotherapist and supervisor throughout his subsequent professional career. As a psychotherapeutically oriented psychiatrist he had a beneficial influence on the way psychiatry was practised in Wellington, which was particularly evident through his role in teaching and supervising psychiatric registrars.

In 1972 Ian joined the New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists. At the time there was a lot of debate about future directions for the Association. Ian soon became involved in Association affairs. He served on the Council from 1976 until 1989, and chaired the Applications Committee from 1982 to 1985. During his time on Council there were very significant developments in making the Association both more truly inclusive and more accountable. In 1978 Ilse Macaskill, Don Fergus and Ian did some early work on defining the central role of supervision in training as a psychotherapist, and later Ian and Don conducted a series of workshops on the process of supervision. He was one of those who spearheaded the work of defining the knowledge base for Members of the Association, and developed a ‘user friendly’ description of psychotherapy.

Ian had a particular interest in transactional analysis. In the 1970s he trained in this modality with Bob and Mary Goulding in California, and on his return to Wellington he set to work to gain his qualifications as a TA therapist, teacher and supervisor. For a decade or more he ran a TA training group, and he set up assessment procedures for TA accreditation in New Zealand. This was a pioneering venture with far reaching effects, as his trainees went on to establish training programmes elsewhere in the country. Ian is widely regarded as the ‘grand father’ of transactional analysis in New Zealand.

Ian’s practice and teaching of psychotherapy was not however confined to classical transactional analysis theory. He incorporated aspects of body work, psychodynamic, systems and developmental theory in his work and was able to help other psychotherapists, via teaching, supervising and modelling, to bring about integration of ways of working suited to their personalities and the needs of their clients. His positive belief in the client’s own restorative, developmental and creative potential was inspiring, and his awareness of the psychotherapist’s responsibility to attend to their own personal preparation was sobering. Above all he understood and taught that techniques don’t ‘cure’, relationships do, and that love is the vital ingredient.