Peter McGeorge has been a member of the New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists since the 1970s. He was an Executive member from 1982-89 and was President in 1987-88. As an office bearer he was influential in moving the Association towards a greater emphasis on professional standards and accountability. He stood for professional competence in practice rather than formal credentials as the basis of membership. NZAP had been pursuing the goal of registration for psychotherapists, but this foundered in the political climate of deregulation in the late 1980s. Peter and others were extremely concerned about the potential for harm in the unethical practice of some self-proclaimed ‘psychotherapists’, and embraced the task of developing a Code of Ethics for NZAP. This was achieved, and was followed by the establishment of the first Complaints Procedure.
For some years Peter ran training workshops in Gestalt Therapy and in doing so not only inspired psychotherapists and future psychotherapists with enthusiasm for this modality but also introduced them to a way of working on their own therapeutic needs. He modeled professional expertise combined with compassion and respect for the personal and professional growth of the trainees.
Peter has had an important role in the New Zealand psychotherapeutic community as a psychiatrist who believes in the value of psychotherapy. From the beginning of his involvement with NZAP he challenged his fellow members to focus on issues of mental health and illness and to explore ways of helping severely troubled clients. As a member of the planning committee for the Psychotherapy training course at the then Auckland Institute of Technology, and the first Chairperson of the Advisory Committee for the course, he insisted on the need for the course to include information on working with the mentally ill. In more recent years, he has brought a psychotherapeutic perspective to his work as a manager of Mental Health Services in the public sector.
Peter’s passion and recognition of pain touches and inspires those who know him. It leads him to put himself on the line in advocating for justice, compassion and excellent mental health practice, sometimes at personal cost. He is always willing to share his expertise and experience and continues to be valued as a warm, enthusiastic and generous “elder” of NZAP.