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A Narrative Inquiry into the Experiences of non-Aboriginal Counsellors working with Aboriginal Peoples Open Access


Other title
social justice action
multicultural counselling competencies
cross-cultural counselling
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Bowden-Gil, Amanda Susan
Supervisor and department
Yohani, Sophie ( Educational Psychology)
Caine,Vera ( Nursing)
Examining committee member and department
Caine,Vera (Nursing)
Buck, George ( Educational Psychology)
Yohani, Sophie (Educational Psychology)
Department of Educational Psychology
School and Clinical Child Psychology
Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Education
Degree level
With a call for non-Aboriginal counsellors to develop a better understanding of the health issues facing Canada’s Aboriginal peoples, future counsellors need to have a strong understanding of the changing social conditions and focus beyond existing paradigms of mental health care. Culturally relevant therapy is needed to engage with issues of poverty, unemployment, racism, and injustice (Nuttgens & Campbell, 2010). In this narrative inquiry study I explored the experiences of non-Aboriginal counsellors working with Aboriginal clients. I engaged with two counsellors, Bob and Liz, over a period of several years, in three to four conversations between two to three hours at a time. The conversations were transcribed verbatim and analyzed for narrative threads. Observations and field notes were collected, and reflections were incorporated into this study. Three narrative threads have been identified a) stories to live by, b) humility and c) being called to the work. It is important to understand non-Aboriginal counselling experiences across time, place, and diverse social contexts (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000). These experiences are embedded within life histories of people that raise questions about counsellor education and support. In order to provide effective and culturally relevant services counsellors may be required to step outside their current roles to include advocacy, outreach, prevention programs, psycho-educational and other forms of community based interventions. It is imperative for helping professionals to become educated on Aboriginal culture, cross-cultural practices, as well as multicultural counselling theory, indigenous psychologies and social justice action. Listening to the experiences of Bob and Liz also made visible the significant gaps and a lack of evidence informed teaching practices.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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