Indigenous refers to the native people of a particular place. With indigenous people comes a variety of cultural and social backgrounds that are often regionally specific. So it would make sense that people deriving from different cultural and minority backgrounds would be better suited to participate in Indigenous group therapy with others who may have a better understanding of their particular issues.
South Australian research recently revealed that Indigenous Australians between the ages of 35 and 54 are nearly eight times more likely to die than their peers and alcohol abuse is the main problem. In 2015, alcohol was involved in 30 percent of Indigenous female and 40 percent of Indigenous male suicides. An Indigenous unemployment rate of 38 percent is also a leading causative factor that is driving Indigenous people towards drugs and alcohol.
Many Indigenous cultures have experienced certain generational traumas and working with them requires one to have a true understanding of what that means. Reflection of that deep understanding is vital to creating an environment of respect, empathy, and culturally safe. That is why many Indigenous men and women look to their people for help and support in their recovery process.
For Indigenous people, healing from addiction is rooted in culturally-based interventions. Group therapy can take many different forms, from sweat lodges to more traditional teachings, these regionally specific interventions are usually led by people who are authorized and recognized by traditional teachers of the culture, community members, or spiritual beings.
Regular group therapy and Indigenous group therapy involve one or more therapists, or in the case of indigenous peoples, their spiritual leader, teacher, or a member of the community, who works with many people at the same time. Group therapy can be used alone, but it is usually joined with a treatment plan that also incorporates individual therapy.
Indigenous Group Therapy Teachers
The exact manner in which group sessions are conducted is largely dependent on the goals of the group, their regionally specific teachings, and the technique of the therapist or teacher. Some teachers/therapists may allow more free-style dialogue, where every member of the group can join in where he or she sees fit. Other teachers/therapists may instead, have a specific plan in place for each session that could include practicing new skills with other members. While others may incorporate culturally specific therapies such as dancing or singing.
Studies have shown that Indigenous group therapy can be a very effective treatment for depression, addiction recovery, and other forms of traumatic stress. For indigenous people, having access to inclusive, effective, and culturally safe rehabilitation and treatment programs is vital to achieve and maintain stable recovery from substance and alcohol abuse.