Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy

Academic Discipline

Community Psychology

First Advisor

Brad Olson

Second Advisor

Ericka Mingo

Third Advisor

Judah Viola



The Palestinian need for aid is entirely a result of a decades long conflict with Israel. Western funders to Palestinian NGOs working in psychological services may have good intentions, but their traditional approaches to therapy and well-being may be inconsistent with a collective Palestinian identity of liberation. These colonizing therapies may stigmatize Palestinians as "traumatized", encouraging a defeated or passive mentality, undermining values of resistance, while ongoing Israeli oppression continues. The NGO policies and modes of work can also influence the worldview, practices, and motivations of Palestinian Mental health workers who are serving populations with much experience of violence and oppression. One goal of this qualitative research is to learn how mental health workers position themselves with respect to basic aspects of psychological colonialism (body, the other, language, imagination, etc.).

The aims are to open the horizons of possibility for decolonial practices. This research begins a dialogue with Palestinian psychologists around the dynamics of mental health work in settler-colonial war zones. The project describes and analyzes the programs, projects and directions of these NGOs, and their institutional impact on communities under colonial violence. This study additionally attempts to understand how mental health workers perceive coloniality within their organization and practice, and their readiness to engage their own practice and their clients into the process of decoloniality. One central goal of interest to the present researcher is to understand how these themes relate to theories of justice therapy and sociopolitical well-being. The themes found in the analysis were brought back to Maldonado-Torres' 10 theses on Coloniality and Decoloniality theory and interpreted more deeply into the broader global context.