Inviting Resilience into the Conversation

P1080006Tuesday, Dee Brightstar, Abenaki elder and healer, and I were guests on Moccasin Tracks on WRUV radio. It is always a joy to join Dee for a conversation or ceremony. I thank Deb Reger for inviting us to appear on her program. Here is a link to the edited podcast.

Fittingly, given the recent discussion on this blog, the conversation focused on the impacts of historical trauma on Indigenous people, and the way those traumas may shape and inform healthcare delivery, especially for mental health services. We also spoke about ceremony and, very importantly, the remarkable resiliency of Native people. Our chat lasted for more than an hour, loitering over shared experiences and ideas about addressing the issues facing Indigenous people.

This morning I spoke at length with my colleague, Carol Fournier, LCMHC. We chatted at length about our lives as Indigenous people of mixed heritage, and our work as mental health clinicians and teachers. We are planning to invite other clinicians, Native and non, to join us for a thoughtful conversation about Indigenous identity and psychotherapy in October.  More on this will be forthcoming.

I believe clinicians benefit from remembering Indigenous people are resilient; we have held tightly to our traditions for more than 500 years of colonialism.  Native people are also creative: our traditions and other cultural practices have always adapted to new challenges and opportunities.

The cornerstones of Indigenous resilience are  the land, family, and community, both rural and urban settings. Remembering this can aid clinicians to better understand both the challenges of historical trauma, and the healing resources available to Native people. Trauma informed, culturally competent and appropriate therapies for Indigenous people must take into account our complex history, our rich cultural traditions, and our connection to the land. They must understand the centrality of family and community, and of relationship to the sacred. These things will, when approached with an open mind and heart, and respect for Indigenous people, go a long way.

It has been good to speak with colleagues about our traditions and practices, and the new ideas we may bring to our healing conversations and ceremonies. I look forward to continuing the conversation, and hope you, too, will share your knowing.

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