12 Principles of Indigenous Healing

When I first became interested in Indigenous healing a number of years ago, I did a great deal of reading about the healing of trauma and intergenerational trauma. I summarised what I considered to be 12 principles of healing, which are relevant to Aboriginal people here in Australia and other Indigenous peoples around the world. I first posted about these principles on Sharing Culture in 2014 and then on The Carrolup Story in 2018.

1. The Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples must be recognised and respected
Recognition of, and respect for, the Human Rights of Indigenous peoples is fundamental to improving their health and wellbeing. Society must ensure that Indigenous peoples have full and effective participation in decisions that directly or indirectly affect their lives.

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Factors Facilitating Recovery: Mutual Support

I continue with my series of blog posts relating to the factors that facilitate recovery from addiction, which I have detailed in the second last chapter of my eBook Our Recovery Stories: Journeys from Drug and Alcohol AddictionThese factors are also relevant to recovery from mental health problems.

“Acceptance is just one aspect of the fifth key factor underlying recovery, being supported by others. People in recovery stress the importance of having someone believe in them, particularly when they don’t believe in themselves. They also stress the importance of having a person in recovery as a mentor or role model as they travel their journey.

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Healing Section of Recovery Stories

HealingThe aim of the Healing section of Recovery Stories is to take you on a journey into the fascinating field relating to the healing of intergenerational trauma, sometimes called transgenerational or historical trauma. The section ‘operates’ differently to other parts of the website. If you are new to this field and are keen to learn, I suggest you start reading my first post, entitled Indigenous Trauma and Healing. You can then access the second post by clicking the link at the bottom of the page…. and so on.

At present, there are sixteen posts, mostly relating to intergenerational trauma (rather than healing) at this stage. I will gradually add more and more posts over time. Here is the current list:

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‘What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing’

Recently, I read one of the best books I have read relevant to my work. The book, What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing, is written by Bruce D. Perry M.D., Ph.D. and Oprah Winfrey. The book is essential reading for anyone interested in trauma and the healing of trauma. Many people who become addicted to drugs have experienced childhood trauma.

The book was informative, inspirational and deeply-moving. Bruce has put together so well what he has learnt throughout his career (including a great deal from the young people he has worked alongside), and has described his theories of how we function as human beings, and how trauma can have such a devastating impact on us. He describes the many ways we can facilitate the healing of trauma. The use of storytelling—Bruce’s clinical experiences and Oprah’s personal experiences—is very powerful.

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Society is Failing to Tackle Historical Trauma

images-2‘The bureaucratic interventions of the state – the processes of law, social welfare, and health care – have not addressed the core issue of human traumatisation. These issues, in many cases, compounded the trauma by creating and increasing dependency on the state, which, while intensifying the feelings of victimisation, also enforces the beliefs of being powerless to change destructive circumstances.’ Judy Atkinson

If we are to help Indigenous people improve their health and wellbeing, we have to tackle core underlying problems such as transgenerational trauma. However, our health care systems do not address transgenerational trauma—they just manage its symptoms, e.g. by prescribing medications to ‘treat’ emotional distress.

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Healing Section of Recovery Stories

In more recent years, my work has in large part been focused around the healing of trauma. I set up the educational initiative Sharing Culture in 2014, which focused on the healing of intergenerational trauma amongst Indigenous peoples. [The website is still live, but I have not updated my blog for some time.]

Late in 2018, I launched a storytelling, education and healing online resource, The Carrolup Story, with Social Anthropologist John Stanton and our webmaster Ash Whitney (he built the Recovery Stories website as well). I published the eBook Connection: Aboriginal Child Artists Captivate Europe in June 2020.

This book, along with the website, plunges us into a world where traumatised Aboriginal children of Western Australia show resilience in the face of great adversity. Their achievements challenge the very foundation of a government’s racist and dehumanising policies. Their beautiful landscape art inspires four generations of artists… and takes a 50-year journey, encircling the world before returning home.

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‘Our Recovery Stories’ eBook Available Tomorrow

‘Learn from the True Experts’

Recovery from addiction comes from the person with the problem. They do the work in overcoming their substance use and related problems, getting well, and getting their life (back) on track. Recovery is a process of self-healing. Practitioners, peer supporters and others may facilitate recovery, but they do so by catalysing and supporting natural processes of recovery in the individual. 

Our Recovery Stories: Journeys from Drug and Alcohol Addiction comes out tomorrow as a self-published eBook (170,000 words). It can be purchased from Apple, Amazon or Kobo. It is available via Apple, Amazon or Kobo (price: £4.99, A$8.99, US$6.99, €5.99). Please note, that you must purchase and download the book from the supplier’s store in your country or region. Just search for the book using the words of the main title. The Amazon and Kobo links above are for the UK stores. There is no link for Apple, as their system works differently through the Apple Books app. Further information about purchasing can be found at the bottom of this page.

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‘Ruby’s Story’: Marion Kickett

It’s hard to believe that it is over seven years ago since I launched Sharing Culture, an educational initiative to facilitate the healing of intergenerational trauma. It is also over seven years since Michael Liu and I went out with Professor Marion Kickett to her home country in York to film her describing her life, country, culture, spirituality, family, education and resilience. Marion is a Noongar leader from the Balardong language group, who is Director of the Centre for Aboriginal Studies at Curtin University in Perth.

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12 Principles of Indigenous Healing

When I first developed the educational healing resource Sharing Culture, I did a great deal of reading about the healing of trauma and historical trauma. I summarised what I considered to be 12 principles of healing, which are relevant to Aboriginal people here in Australia and other Indigenous peoples around the world.  I have decided to make an article on these principles the first  in our educational journey into Indigenous trauma and healing.

1. The Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples must be recognised and respected
Recognition of, and respect for, the Human Rights of Indigenous peoples is fundamental to improving their health and wellbeing. Society must ensure that Indigenous peoples have full and effective participation in decisions that directly or indirectly affect their lives.

Read More ➔

The Value of Deep Listening: The Aboriginal Gift to the Nation—Judy Atkinson

I was inspired into the field of trauma healing by a remarkable Aboriginal woman, Judy Atkinson.

Emeritus Professor Judy Atkinson is a Jiman (central west Queensland) and Bundjalung (northern New South Wales) woman, with Anglo-Celtic and German heritage. She lives in Goolmangar, New South Wales. Judy is Patron/Elder Advisor for We Al-li Programs, a remarkable healing initiative. She was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2019 for her services to the Indigenous community, to education and to mental health.

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Indigenous Trauma and Healing

images-1“We are like the tree standing in the middle of a bushfire sweeping through the timber. The leaves are scorched and the tough bark is scarred and burnt, but inside the tree, the sap is still flowing and under the ground, the roots are still strong. Like the tree, we have endured the flames and yet we still have the power to be reborn.” Miriam Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann, Senior Australian of the Year, 2021

This section of the website focuses on the healing of trauma and historical trauma, in particular in relation to Indigenous peoples.  I will write a series of articles, which will appear in the order they are written (oldest first), in an attempt to take the reader on a journey into this fascinating field.

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‘Our Recovery Stories’ Update

I just wanted to let you know that the eBook Our Recovery Stories: Journeys from Drug and Alcohol Addiction will be available from 9th April 2021. It will be available via Apple, Amazon or Kobo (price: £4.99, A$8.99, US$6.99, €5.99). I will provide links and any other relevant information shortly.

I have chosen this date for release, as it is my youngest son Sam’s birthday and is a day before Michael Scott’s, of Michael’s Story, 43rd Sober Anniversary. And I then learn that the 9th April is the 60th birthday of Kevan Martin, of Kevan’s Story. Couldn’t have chosen a better date.

Please note that the book will have to be read on a phone, tablet or a computer. I hope to publish a hard copy version at a later date. Here is what I have said in the publicity material:

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Sir Ken Robinson | Creating a New Normal

In his final public speech, Sir Ken Robinson (RIP) joined The Call to Unite to invite us all to imagine a new normal, and to understand how we can create a world that values the diversity of each individual’s unique gifts and talents. The Call To Unite. [15’50”]

This could be why you’re depressed or anxious | Johann Hari

In a moving talk, journalist Johann Hari shares fresh insights on the causes of depression and anxiety from experts around the world — as well as some exciting emerging solutions. “If you’re depressed or anxious, you’re not weak and you’re not crazy — you’re a human being with unmet needs,” Hari says. TED. [20’31”]

The Roots of Addiction

Gabor Maté stresses that addiction is an attempt to solve the graver problem of unbearable psychic pain. To understand addiction we need to understand that human pain can come from childhood experiences. The more adversity an individual experiences in childhood the higher their risk of resorting to addictive behaviour to sooth their pain, even temporarily. Addiction (alcohol, drugs, shopping, Internet, etc.) is an attempt to seek something from the outside that the individual is not able to generate from within. Child Health BC. [3’19”]

Fulfilling Trauma’s Hidden Promise

Psychiatrist, author, advisor to the White House, and professor at Georgetown Medical School, James Gordon is a world-renowned expert in using mind-body medicine to heal depression, anxiety, and psychological trauma. James shares how he has witnessed the healing power of mind-body medicine for traumatised children and families in areas such as Bosnia, Gaza, and Israel. TEDMED. [23’21”]

Learn the Signs and Symptoms of PTSD, with Dr. Bessel van der Kolk

Bessel starts this seven-minute film clip by describing how the diagnosis for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was created to remind the Department of Veterans Administration in the USA to take care of war veterans. It was quite clear that a large of number of Vietnam veterans were traumatised by their war-time experiences. Big Think. [7’15”]

Good relationships are the key to healing trauma | Karen Treisman | TEDxWarwickSalon

Dr Treisman talks about the importance of forging good relationships and effective society-wide systems when it comes to understanding and healing trauma. Dr Karen Treisman, a Clinical Psychologist, has worked across the globe with groups ranging from adopted children to former child soldiers to survivors of the Rwandan Genocide. TEDx Talks. [17’21”]

“We Shall Remain”

WE SHALL REMAIN was created to address the effects of historical trauma in our tribal communities. Many times, these untended wounds are at the core of much of the self-inflicted pain experienced in Native America. Much like fire, this pain can either be devastatingly destructive or wisely harnessed to become fuel that helps us to rise up and move forward in life with joy, purpose and dignity. The StyleHorse Collective. [6’16”]

The Value of Deep Listening – The Aboriginal Gift to the Nation | Judy Atkinson | TEDxSydney

Judy Atkinson is an expert in understanding inter-generational healing and recovery from trauma in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. At the core of this moving talk, she describes her approach to healing. It’s about listening. In order to heal, the stories behind the trauma must be heard. TEDx Talks. [16’14”]