Counseling Native Americans: I chose to focus on Native Americans because of the large population of Seminoles we have here in Florida. I find Native American culture to be fascinating and I am sorry that they do not have as much power in society as they should and that their sociopolitical status is less than adequate.
I could not find anything about humor in therapy with Native American’s at first, but now after much research I find they mentioned it in the article linked below. A lot of strong evidence for using humor in therapy with this population is mentioned. A famous proverb by Larry P. Aitken, Native American from the Chippewa Tribe explains how “Laughter is a necessity in life that does not cost much, and the Old Ones say that one of the greatest healing powers in our life is the ability to laugh.” I never would have expected this to be the mindset of a Native American because they are usually portrayed as stoic and phlegmatic in books and stories (as you mentioned in your discussion). It’s beneficial to know that laughter and humor are so important in the Native American culture. It is a well-known fact that when we laugh, changes occur in our brains and our bodies that can be very beneficial not only to people aren’t ill but to those who are. Studies have found that laughter can improve clinical outcomes in disorders like asthma, cancer and heart disease by reducing physiological stress responses. So maybe there is something to the saying that laughter truly is the best medicine!
I also wanted to share something I found that the book by Diller explained very well. When reading about misidentification I felt moved by the case of the Navajo man who was misdiagnosed as schizophrenic and hospitalized for 18 months all because he didn’t have an interpreter and they misidentified his identity as Mexican. (I know that being labeled or misidentified is embarrassing from personal experience but I could anticipate that it would be especially difficult to deal with it when you’re labeled as something you are not by a culture that has oppressed you for hundreds of years. This is just another issue in working with anyone of a different culture, but especially damaging for this population. I do agree that incorporating laughter and humor into therapy will help the Native American client feel more comfortable despite cultural and sociopolitical hindrances.
5 Ways to Strive for Improvement:
1. Assess intentions of client–also do a whole health inventory and focus on what is good and helpful in their behaviors or support networks. Also start a gratitute journal with the client where they keep track of things they are happy and grateful for.
2. Give client more choice, allow them to choose what they would like to do, where their goals are etc.
3. Acknowledge that clients sometimes possess their own answers or solutions, empower the client, allow them to see themselves in a more positive way
4. Externatlize problems for the client, let them separate themselves from the problem, think about how life would be without the problem ever existing
5. Re-assess the clients motivation to change with them, let client draw their own clonclusions and use narrative therapy while focusing on what is going right in the client’s life.
Aiding Members of the Military or their families:
I have noticed a trend in research regarding families. The fact is most of the culture’s we have studied have strongly believed in the importance of family. We can use that factor to help them reunite through those silly misunderstandings or moments of discord you mentioned by externalizing some of those issues and placing meaning and value in their relationships. However, I do also agree there needs to be more emphasis on aiding members of the military with their issues, especially in regards to the family.
I found this site to be helpful with this issue:
It helped explain variety of things military members and spouses can do to understand the warning signs of and treatment options for mental health issues as well as mentioning the importance of the “Give an Hour” which a week of your time to provide critical mental health services those who serve and their loved ones.
Other Helpful Info:
Other Additional Considerations and Future Suggestions of working with Native Americans:
80 percent of Native Americans have experienced some kind of abuse compared to non-Native Americans. This is absolutely shocking! Any type of abuse is traumatic but I can see how CBT would be a very helpful therapy for these individuals. I have a few questions still about the study that I will try to read and figure out, but for now I will note them here: Was there any focus on DBT as well? I am wondering what kind of abuse was studied and if that impacted the results? Was it all physical or was it verbal/emotional as well? Was there a particular age group studied? I wonder if substance abuse could have played a part in the study as well.
Additionally, I found a site which explains how American Indian women living on Indian reservations experience unique challenges that intensify the epidemic of violence against them. However, comprehensive data on violence against women under tribal jurisdiction does not exist since no federal or Indian agency nor organization systematically collects this information. This proves to be an issue in helping Native American women who are abused, since some are unlikely to speak up for fear of persecution by someone outside of their tribe. It was mentioned that Natives are taught not to interfere with other peoples, because it’s a sign of disrespect. I also really found the way you described Native spiritual beliefs as animistic to be a helpful way to remember during treatment.
The site also talks about another important point about lack of services for these female clients. Longer-term housing and affordable permanent housing that goes beyond providing simply the physical structure, needs to be implemented in order to create opportunities for battered women leaving abusive relationships to live in a community that extends safety, support and a place to work toward reclaiming their connections with themselves and others.
Here’s the links to the 2 studies I browsed:
Bohn, D. K. (2002). Lifetime and current abuse, pregnancy risks, and outcomes among Native American women. Journal of health care for the poor and underserved, 13(2), 184-198.
Koss, M. P., Goodman, L. A., Browne, A., Fitzgerald, L. F., Keita, G. P., & Russo, N. F. (1994). The prevalence of intimate violence. American Psychological Association.
Diller, J.V. (2011). Cultural diversity: A Primer for the human services. California: Brooks/Cole.