Robyn Hewland

Dr. Robyn Hewland QSM, graduated in medicine in Otago. She was a country General Practitioner in Marton, trained in Psychiatry at Sunnyside Hospital in Christchurch, and at the Maudsley Hospital and the Tavistock Clinic in London. She worked with the UK’s Medical Research Council’s Affective Disorders Unit in Surrey in 1972-73. When at school, in 1956, she had noted the need for counsellors, before school counsellors existed in New Zealand. In the 1990 New Years Honours, she was awarded the Queens Service Medal for Public Services.

Robyn gained her membership of NZAP in 1975, in Dunedin. Two years later she was elected to the Council of NZAPC. She was convenor of NZAP conferences in Christchurch at the Hospital, on the National Marae, and at the University. She introduced Saturday day registration and programmes to increase local education and networking. After a decade of attendance at all conferences and meetings and experience on Council, she was President from 1985-1987.  After that, she was asked to continue her Public Relations activities as NZAP’s first (solo) representative reporting to the then President and Council. She continued to network and lobby on behalf of members and of those requiring psychotherapy, until 1994 when she moved to Queensland, Australia. Her Honorary Life Membership recognises her twenty years of commitment. It is supported warmly by members.

Robyn encouraged and supported teamwork and each Council member in developing their areas of responsibility. She was quick to express appreciation for others’ ideas, and work, past and present, and of their support for her, to facilitate the aims and objects of NZAP. She aimed for conferences and council meetings to remain friendly, enjoyable, productive, respected and financial, and to make a difference to accessible, affordable, ethical therapy. She introduced the presentation of Membership Certificates at the AGM to welcome new members, which increased by around 75 in two years, to 275. She visited Nelson to initiate a regional committee for Nelson and Picton. She encouraged all regions to develop their own activities, supervision arrangements and supports. She networked to reduce fragmentation amongst the different therapy associations and to have most represented in NZAP.

When she became President there was no Executive Officer (until 1986). Robyn spent most weekends typing (with two fingers) and telephoning, to coordinate the Council’s activities, prepare for meetings, write for the newsletters, write submissions, letters and answer the considerable mail, which grew with her activities. They included lobbying for recognition of a separate occupational group in Welfare, Health and Justice Departments, registration for psychotherapists as health professionals, and recognition of the value of therapy for improved health and functioning in work, at home and socially, and for funding by private health insurances. Unfortunately, the Government’s policy then was for deregistration fo ost professionals. She networked while holding Consultant Psychiatrist positions within the Departments of Social Welfare/Child and Family, Justice (Prisons and Probation) and at Sunnyside Hospital. When assessing persons for Invalid Benefits she successfully promoted the Disability Allowance for therapy and tried to introduce specific accreditation for those therapists. She represented NZAP at ACC counsellors policy meetings.

When she was the Public Relations representative, she lobbied for NZAP to be recognised Professional Association with ACC. It occurred after six month’s hard work and obtaining an Order in Council signed by three Cabinet MPs to change an ACC Act. She liaised with DSAC from its onset for sensitive medical examinations of sexually abused, and therapy standards.

She visited Dr Isla Lonie in Sydney and initiated a formal liaison and attendance at the respective Council meetings and conferences of NZAP and of the Association of Australian Psychotherapists. She also initiated formal liaison with the NZ Medical Association and represented NZAP at their National Assemblies. She was a member of National Council of Women’s Standing Committees on Child and Family, and on Health, and represented NZ Medical Women’s Association there. She proposed and pursued a remit for N.C.W. on the provision of affordable, ethical psychotherapy of a professional standard until it became its policy. She lobbied N.C.W. for its inclusion in their submissions on relevant Government Bills. After starting therapy groups in Paparua Prison’s Protection Wing, she facilitated the first Prison Treatment Unit for sexual offenders, at Rolleston Prison, with support from N.C.W., local stakeholders, staff and therapists. She took an eclectic approach, using the therapy mode most useful at the time for a positive outcome. She combined up to date therapeutic and biological knowledge.

In presenting her with Honorary Life Membership Peter Reid noted that her middle name could be ‘networker’.

In both her first and last addresses as President, in 1985 and 1988, she quoted Virginia Satir:

I believe the greatest gift

I can conceive having from anyone is to be seen by them

Heard by them, to be understood, and believed by them.

The greatest gift I can give, is to see, hear and understand, touch another.

When this is done I feel contact has been made.