Therapy against settler colonialism: D. C. Wendt, K. Huson, M. Albatnuni, J. P. Gone, ‘What are the best practices for psychotherapy with indigenous peoples in the United States and Canada? A thorny question’, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 2022


Abstract: This conceptual article addresses “best practices” for Indigenous Peoples in the United States and Canada. This topic is “thorny” both pragmatically (e.g., rare representation in clinical trials) and ethically (e.g., ongoing settler colonialism). Method: We outline four potential approaches, or “paths,” in conceptualizing best practices for psychotherapy: (a) limiting psychotherapy to empirically supported treatments, (b) prioritizing the use of culturally adapted interventions, (c) focusing on common factors of psychotherapy, and (d) promoting grassroots Indigenous approaches and traditional healing. Results: Lessons from our four-path journey include (a) the limits of empirically supported treatments, which are inadequate in number and scope when it comes to Indigenous clients, (b) the value of prioritizing interventions that are culturally adapted and/or evaluated for use with Indigenous populations, (c) the importance of common factors of evidence-based practice, alongside the danger of psychotherapy as a covert assimilative enterprise, and (d) the need to support traditional and grassroots cultural interventions that promote “culture-as-treatment.” Conclusions: A greater commitment to community-engaged research and cultural humility is necessary to promote Indigenous mental health, including greater attention to supporting traditional healing and Indigenous-led cultural interventions.

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