Aboriginal Women's Encounters with Mainstream Mental Health Services: The Critical Incidents that Facilitate Healing
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This study examines Aboriginal women’s encounters with mainstream mental health services. Using the Critical Incidents Technique, the researcher developed a list of categories to describe factors that help or hinder healing for this population. Interviews conducted with six participants yielded a total of 57 incidents (of which 46 facilitated and 11 hindered healing). These incidents were sorted into 15 categories (12 helping, three hindering). Many of the helping categories reveal the importance of cultural connections and traditional value systems. In addition, they highlight the need for culturally competent practitioners who are collaborative and strengths-based in their treatment approaches. Conversely, the hindering categories describe the detrimental impacts of culturally incompetent practice and prescriptive, non-collaborative treatment approaches. Additionally, they reveal how fears of racism and negative stereotypes continue to serve as a barrier to service for some Aboriginal women. Notably, a unique finding that emerged in this study is that some participants found healing through a combination of medical (i.e. formal diagnosis and psychotropic medication) and traditional (i.e. ceremony) interventions.