Mental Health Counties Manukau ‘Our People’ Profile

Our People – Ron Phillips

Where do you work?
I have worked for Child & Adolescent Mental Health services as a Family Therapist since February 1996. Yes, I started last century.
Twenty four years later I’m still working with young people all over South Auckland.
Why did you choose to work in Mental Health?
In 1976 I taught special education in California, and my wife and I founded Creative Alternatives.
I went to University to get a Masters in Psychology, but when I applied the traditional therapeutic stuff it didn’t work. So I created a Therapeutic Storytelling intervention, to talk with these kids on the other side of their attitude.
Where do you call home, and where are your traditional roots?
We’ve lived in New Zealand since 1991. We came for a one year working holiday and stayed, gaining citizenship in 2005.
I’m originally from San Francisco. It was awesome growing up in San Francisco during the sixties, a very happening place at a very interesting time. My parents were from Oklahoma and migrated to California during the ‘Grapes of Wrath’ dust bowl era. In 1993 my parents came to New Zealand to collect us and take us home. However they didn’t have a chance, we love our new life in New Zealand… it’s simply a better place to be.
Who inspires you?
  1. My parents were foster parents for forty years. The example of their love for children inspires my work.
  2. Numerous colleagues who have motivated me to keep on with my Therapeutic Storytelling approach.
  3. I’m also inspired by the perfect order of this garden planet we live on, and the good news of Christianity.
What is your biggest wish for the people of South Auckland?

I would wish people would start living their best lives, striving to make their life a success rather than striving to be successful.
For people to understand what makes them who they are, and more importantly the lessons necessary to know themselves.

What are you proudest of?
  1. My wife and family. I have been married 50 years, have three daughters and six mokos. My son-in-laws also are very cool young men.
  2. Founding Creative Alternatives.
  3. My wonderful 24 years at Counties Manukau Mental Health.
  4. The documentary Film Buff Productions is filming on my work and how this is part of the great healthcare we offer the people of South Auckland.
We are always looking for people to join our teams, please visit to view our current positions or email