SEXUAL VIOLENCE CAMPAIGNER DR KIM McGREGOR MOVES BACK TO ‘REAL FACE-TO-FACE WORK’
New Zealand’s leading advocate for survivors of sexual violence, Dr Kim McGregor QSO, is shifting her focus back to private practice by joining the team at Auckland’s Robert Street Clinic.
Dr McGregor, who last year was made a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order for her services to the prevention of sexual violence, has for the past 10 years been the Executive Director of Rape Prevention Education Whakatu Mauri; was the co-founder of both the national bi-cultural network Te Ohaakii a Hine – National Network Ending Sexual Violence Together (TOAH-NNEST) and Project Restore (restorative justice for survivors of harmful sexual behaviour), and has been New Zealand’s foremost author, advocate and clinical authority for survivors of childhood sexual abuse and interpersonal violence.
Although Dr McGregor has continued to work as a therapist with survivors of sexual violence since starting out in clinical practice in 1986, over the past 10 years she’s spent more and more time helping lead the national debate surrounding sexual violence – including training healthcare professionals how to respond appropriately and sensitively and working alongside Government to improve systems for survivors of interpersonal trauma.
But Dr McGregor said she’s now excited to be stepping up her private practice caseload alongside the team at Robert Street Clinic in Ellerslie.
“I ran a Non-Governmental Organisation for 10 years and I feel really excited to get back to doing face-to-face work in private practice,” Dr McGregor said.
“It feels to me that that’s the real work – being with individuals who’ve experienced interpersonal violence and trauma and that’s been my drive to work in this field for almost 30 years. I’m a survivor of child sexual abuse myself so originally that’s what I wanted to give back to the system I’d received a little bit of help from.”
Dr McGregor said her experience working to help create the national structure around and raise awareness about sexual violence was a driving force behind her clinical work.
“It’s really important to be in private practice and to be working with survivors of interpersonal violence on a day-to-day basis because the impact and the system in which they are engaging informs all my other research and training and political work.
“Over the past 10 years, I haven’t been able to take new clients but because I’ve been quite politically active at a systems level, I think people are keen to work with me because of my more holistic view of the system that they are having to work through.”
Louise Nicholas, who Dr McGregor recruited and supported into an advocacy role, said at the time of her QCO honour that “If it wasn’t for Kim, the sector wouldn’t be where it was today”, and certainly she’s made a notable impact on the awareness of sexual violence in New Zealand.
“I’ve been heavily active over past decade in encouraging Government in particular to tackle the problems around sexual violence because Government had been focused on domestic violence,” Dr McGregor said.
“So I’ve worked for 10 years in an advocacy role encouraging Government to step into this sphere and feel I’ve been successful in doing that – in particular I targeted minister Paula Bennett when she was Minister for Social Development to become the lead minister for sexual violence issues and she stepped into that lead role and then she announced the most significant funding for that sector in more than 20 years ($10.4 million over two years) and that was because she realised the lack of infrastructure and agencies’ ability to respond to sexual violence.
“It’s really important for independent practitioners to be advocating on behalf of their clients and making sure the needs of their clients are being represented at the highest level because governments don’t get to hear about potential gaps in systems and system failures unless they have someone able to articulate that through to government structures and funding.”
Dr McGregor will work from Robert Street Clinic on Thursday afternoons and she said she thought the clinic – which offers private psychotherapy, psychology, psychiatry and relationship counselling across a range of issues – was a good fit for her skills.
“Having a team of such a variety of experienced practitioners around me, I thought it would be great to be part of a team like that,” Dr McGregor said. “In practice, the personal is the political – everything we do is political and I think therapy is therefore a tool for empowerment.”
Director Kyle MacDonald said the Robert Street Clinic team was thrilled to welcome Dr McGregor on board.
“Dr Kim McGregor has been the national driving force behind New Zealand’s understanding and treatment of survivors of sexual trauma for more than a decade. Her tireless work in the media, alongside central Government and at grassroots level is nothing short of inspirational – and her decision to devote more of her time to private practice at Robert Street Clinic will allow her to bring the wealth of that experience to those who need it most.”
For more information on Dr McGregor’s availability or to find out more about the Robert Street Clinic’s range of child, adolescent, adult and family therapy call 09 973 5950 or email the clinic via their website robertstclinic.co.nz.