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Understanding Indigenous Women's Experiences of Engaging in Activities to Heal From Intergenerational Trauma

  • Author / Creator
    Tina Leanne Shrigley
  • This study investigated Indigenous women’s experiences of healing from trauma. The legacy of colonization and Indian residential schools continues to impact Indigenous peoples through historic and intergenerational trauma. Very little research exists on the impact of historic and intergenerational trauma on Indigenous women, including treatment and intervention for complex trauma.
    In-depth interviews took place with four Indigenous women from a First Nations community in Southwestern Ontario. These women self-identified as experiencing, and engaging in healing activities to recover from trauma, including intergenerational trauma. Interview transcripts were analyzed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA).
    Results from this study revealed that each of the participants reported experiencing a profound sense of isolation and loneliness at the start of the healing journey. The participants also described their healing journey as long, and happening during different segments over time. Results also showed that all women found counselling to have a significant impact on their healing journey. As healing progressed, participants also described being able to connect to others, wanting to give back to their community, engage in learning more about their culture, and also described a deeper spiritual connection.
    The findings of this study affirm current research and indicate the continued need for, and availability of, both traditional Indigenous and mainstream psychological intervention approaches. In order to work with Indigenous populations, mental health therapists using mainstream psychological approaches must be trauma-informed (including complex trauma and dissociation), resilience-informed, and culturally-informed, and culturally-humble. Future research may consider further understanding around the reported isolation women experienced as they healed from trauma. This research also provides recommendations to counsellors and to the First Nations community from where the participants reside regarding healing from intergenerational, complex trauma.
    This study investigated Indigenous women’s experiences of healing from trauma. The legacy of colonization and Indian residential schools continues to impact Indigenous peoples through historic and intergenerational trauma. Very little research exists on the impact of historic and intergenerational trauma on Indigenous women, including treatment and intervention for complex trauma.
    In-depth interviews took place with four Indigenous women from a First Nations community in Southwestern Ontario. These women self-identified as experiencing, and engaging in healing activities to recover from trauma, including intergenerational trauma. Interview transcripts were analyzed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA).
    Results from this study revealed that each of the participants reported experiencing a profound sense of isolation and loneliness at the start of the healing journey. The participants also described their healing journey as long, and happening during different segments over time. Results also showed that all women found counselling to have a significant impact on their healing journey. As healing progressed, participants also described being able to connect to others, wanting to give back to their community, engage in learning more about their culture, and also described a deeper spiritual connection.
    The findings of this study affirm current research and indicate the continued need for, and availability of, both traditional Indigenous and mainstream psychological intervention approaches. In order to work with Indigenous populations, mental health therapists using mainstream psychological approaches must be trauma-informed (including complex trauma and dissociation), resilience-informed, and culturally-informed, and culturally-humble. Future research may consider further understanding around the reported isolation women experienced as they healed from trauma. This research also provides recommendations to counsellors and to the First Nations community from where the participants reside regarding healing from intergenerational, complex trauma.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2019
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/r3-pc16-6h21
  • License
    Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.