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The application of African psychology to the South African clinical context: a scoping review.

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This scoping review identifies research on the existing applications of African Psychology to the clinical context in South Africa. This scoping review endorsed the methodology of Arksey and O’Malley (2005) in terms of their six stages of conducting a scoping review. These were identified as the identification of the research question, the identification of literature relevant to this question, the selection of studies through a thorough inclusion and exclusion of sources, the charting of the data, the collection, summarising and reporting of the data and the conducting of a consultation exercise; these were applied accordingly, resulting in 76 sources that were analysed to identify the existing applications, relevant concepts and significant challenges facing African Psychology. Pre-existing applications were observed to include implicit or explicit applications or extensions from African Psychology, adaptations to mainstream models, and the development of unique models endorsing concepts specific to African Psychology (such as uBuntu therapy and Swa Moya), and the collaboration of psychologists with traditional healers, participatory action research, community psychology as well as initiatives in the training of psychologists were also evident. Concepts such as uBuntu, Badimo, uMvelinqanqi, traditional healers and rituals had the highest prevalence in sources embracing African Psychology. In terms of the challenges, multiple definitions and conceptualisations of African Psychology present problems for the standardisation of any particular African Psychology model or framework. Secondly, there exists several epistemological and ontological differences between African and mainstream psychology. This creates a concern for the empirical testing of proposed African Psychology applications in terms of their effectiveness as well as their standardisation. The study found that there remain large gaps in the application of African Psychology to the clinical context, despite the growing interest in African Psychology in South Africa.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.