Ngungkari:Traditional Healer

The traditional healer, or Ngungkari, is of central importance in Aboriginal society in central Australia. They are sought for help in all manner of physical, psychological and spiritual problems. They are usually paid a fee and people may travel long distances to see one that has a good reputation. Their treatment involves various magical techniques such as removing objects from people’s bodies, the use of culturally appropriate explanations for symptoms and the use of suggestion. Pharmacological intervention with bush medicine seems less common. I have had few direct interactions with Ngungkaris but have found it very beneficial to work in parallel with them. For example I will often ask a patient if they have seen a Ngungkari and perhaps recommend that they see one if they have not already done so. Even if the patient does not see their problems as relating to sorcery, the Ngungkari can be very useful to the patient. [it is suggested] that they can act in a supportive psychotherapy role. Their high standing within the Aboriginal community suggests that they are likely to provide the therapeutic benefits of making the patient feel understood.

~ Source: Australian Academy of Medicine here

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  1. I have worked with nungaris most of my life. first went to Wilpena Pound when I was 18.was working alongside full bloods when I was 16 in Wodonga.

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