It is important to note that one series of interviews with one potential client is not a full representation of an entire culture and its’ inherent struggles and successes. My interview with an American Indian woman revealed that there are perception hurdles and there are knowledge and information hurdles and we often confuse the two... That is to say, from my interviewee’s point of view, there are not that many cultural barriers remaining for Native American\American Indian\First Nation cultures. There is a lot of information and help for them, but having the knowledge to utilize that knowledge is the biggest hurdle. My goal is to take what I have learned from my interviews and synthesize the information from class, along with my assumptions and determine the counseling implications for a drug and alcohol recovery program.
Issues concerning addictions and substance abuse among American Indians is high but many treatment options are available that can include traditional native practices. The primary reasons American Indians do not receive treatment is simply because they are not ready to work on their sobriety and recovery.
Addictions counselors will face unique challenges when providing services for American Indian clients. There is a high rate of domestic violence, suicide, and substance abuse within this cultural group. Addictions counselors need to present a thorough screening and assessment of clients to help determine other issues surrounding substance use so that appropriate treatment and services can be provided to help these at risk individuals. Addictions counselors should be prepared with appropriate referral services that must include resources on domestic violence, social services, psychiatric and medical consultations.
A tool that I find informative and useful is the Culture Card published by SAMSHA. The Culture Care will serve me as a quick reference guide when for working with American Indians. The Culture Card explains tribal sovereignty, myths, facts, customs, and cultural variations. I know that I will need relevant instruments like the Culture Card to help improve communication and gain understanding of my Native American clients.
I have come to appreciate the concept of healing tribal beliefs and I will give consideration to implementing indigenous healing approaches when working with some American Indian clients. I now understand that some American Indians adhere closely to traditions and indigenous healing. According to Sue and Sue, these approaches can significantly enhance the recovery process and treatment outcomes for many individuals. Most non-Western indigenous forms of healing take a holistic outlook on physical and mental wellbeing. (Sue & Sue, 2008. p. 222, ¶3)
I discovered that Native traditions believe that healing from substance abuse and co-occurring disorders cannot be separated from culture and spirituality. Native traditional healing practices and cultural enhancement activities are considered both core and complimentary interventions in promoting wellness and long-term recovery. These practices and activities are woven throughout Native American behavioral health programs. These indigenous healing methods can include: Sweat Lodges, Smudging/Purification, Talking Circles, Songs and Drumming, Red Road teachings, Native crafts, Storytelling. (“Native American Connections”, 2013, Behavioral Health Section).
I composed and asked the following questions for my interview:
1. What is your cultural background?
2. How do you identify yourself?
3. Do you consider yourself a part of a certain Tribe?
4. Would you feel comfortable working with a counselor from a different race (White)?
5. Does your cultural background influence how you feel about self disclosure?
6. How do you feel about counseling in general?
7. Do you have any personal concerns of racism, discrimination?
8. Do you have any personal concerns of poverty