20 Ways To Facilitate Indigenous Healing, Part 1

2007_0118walpole01151-220x164Some of you will know I also run the Sharing Culture website, which focuses on Indigenous healing. Today, I thought I would upload the same blog onto both websites. My action reflects the importance I attach to this area.

Society has the knowledge to facilitate Indigenous healing. This knowledge comes from individuals who have overcome great adversity and undergone a healing process (the lived solution); successful Indigenous healing initiatives, and scientific research demonstrating key principles underlying healing.

Sadly, however, this knowledge is neither disseminated well, nor implemented enough by government and health care, social welfare and criminal justice systems. As a result, society is not helping Indigenous people improve their health and wellbeing to the level it should.

In this and forthcoming blogs, I shall briefly describe 20 ways to facilitate Indigenous healing. Here are the first five.

1. Self-determination is the Foundation of Healing
Despite the fact that self-determination and self-direction are the foundation of healing and recovery, governments and systems of care still predominantly take power and control. This approach fails.

Solutions to Indigenous problems must come from within Indigenous communities – they must own and control the healing process. Healing programs must reflect specific needs and goals of the community and the individual.

2. The Importance of Empowerment
Empowerment is key because healing is something that comes from the person, not from a practitioner or treatment. People are empowered when they gain hope, understanding and a sense of belonging. They need the opportunity to make their own choices.

They may need encouragement to start focusing on their strengths instead of their losses. Sometimes, they need another person to believe in them before they’re confident enough to believe in themselves.

3. The Importance of Connections
Healing is rarely achieved alone; it takes place in the context of relationships (or community).

Indigenous people need to be connected to their land, culture, spirituality, family, community and history to facilitate healing. Culture and land provide meaning and purpose to life, a sense of wellbeing, and a strong positive identity.

Healing is about the reparation of social relationships that have often been damaged by a person’s self-destructive behaviours.

4. The Need to Address and Heal Trauma
The health and wellbeing of Indigenous people is impacted upon by past and ongoing trauma. These problems need to be addressed directly, rather than society continuing to manage symptoms.

The core experiences of trauma are disempowerment and disconnection from others. Healing is therefore based on empowerment and the creation of new connections. Society must create safe environments in which healing can occur.

5. Role Models & Healing Stories
People who have overcome adversity, such as trauma, addiction and mental health problems, are role models. They and their Stories provide hope that healing is possible and help people understand the nature of their problem and how it can be overcome.

People in the early stages of their healing identify with, trust and are inspired by the experiences of someone who is further along in their journey. Who better to help us then someone who has been there?