Indigenous/First Nations Counseling

With the discovery of the burial site in Kamloops and the continued uncovering of the many children who did not survive the trauma endured at residential schools, the need for competent mental health services for Indigenous, First Nations people and their communities are more important than ever. Horror stories of the residential schools are not new and the trauma that resulted from these institutions are becoming more and more transparent. The impact of this trauma is far reaching, affecting not only direct survivors but their families as well.

It has been accepted that Indigenous peoples in Canada suffer more significant psychological distress and poor health outcomes compared to non-indigenous people. You are more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and intergenerational trauma as a consequence of colonization, residential schools, and limited access to adequate health care. At Ikigai Integration, we recognize that suicide, substance abuse, domestic violence and depression have become normal occurrences throughout your life.

Loss of Cultural Identity

Indigenous people share an ancestral tie to the lands and natural resources of which they reside. This relationship is deeply connected to their identity, livelihood as well as physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. This can be reflected by the medicine wheel teachings and how it holistically teaches us about wholeness, inter-relationships, interconnectedness, balance, and respect for all. However, due to colonization and residential schools this connection was severed leaving an entire culture lost. With the loss of language, cultural practices and healing modalities, Indigenous people were left to rely on alternative ways to cope. As a result, the use of alcohol, gambling and self-harm became the new mediums in which these people navigated the world. This can leave you feeling anxious, alone, and even grief. At Ikigai Integrative, we aim to integrate Indigenous teachings and philosophies to help empower our clients so that they feel more connected to their culture as well as heal the damage that has resulted from their loss of culture.

Intergenerational Trauma

Indigenous and First Nation people continue to experience collective trauma as a result of colonization, with the effects being passed onto future generations. The loss of culture, traditional values and family stability has made it impossible for parents and Elders to pass on essential knowledge and resilience to the children that were taken away and placed in residential schools or non-Indigenous homes or orphanages. Children are then left to their own coping mechanisms, resulting in either Adverse Childhood experiences (ACEs) or the development of mental health issues. Together, these events can significantly threaten a child’s physical, mental, and emotional health. These early-life traumas put residential school survivors at higher risk for physical health problems such as heart disease or diabetes. It can also put them at higher risk for systemic issues such as homelessness.

As survivors are not able to care for their children, the pain and suffering endured are passed on to the next generation recreating the cycle of trauma that their parents, grandparents and ancestors experienced. Poverty, substance abuse and domestic violence are the common experiences faced by Indigenous individuals who are raised by residential schools and sixty scoop survivors. This extends even deeper to the genetic level where even if you did not directly experience violence. Epigenetics describes how traits can be passed through our DNA and shape our development.

However, there is hope. If trauma and violence can negatively impact our future family members, so can love and connection. At Ikigai Integrative, we take a mind-body approach to help you cope and process with the demands of life. With both acupuncture and therapy, we work to help you heal so that the consequences of residential schools and the sixties scoop do not have to continue to harm the ones you love.

Decolonized Therapy

Something that many people are unaware of is how Western psychology is built on the foundation of sexism, racism, and oppression. As a result, individuals may find it difficult to find the help they need as the modalities that are an extension of this foundation primarily target individuals who don’t identify as Indigenous or First Nations.

At Ikigai Integrative, we aim to provide trauma-informed and anti-oppressive therapy, so that we can work together with our clients to meet their mental health goals without having to sacrifice quality care.

We do this by:

  • Acknowledging the power dynamics within the client-therapist relationship and actively minimizing this power dynamic. (This means you are the one that is driving the therapeutic school bus and we sit in the passenger side providing insight and additional perspectives.)
  • Recognizing the limitations of Western counseling psychology which primarily focuses on the individual and family of origin. (There are many factors that impact our well-being, and it is important to consider the cultural, societal, and ancestral variables that are a part of your constellation.)
  • Differentiate between cultural competencies and anti-oppressive practices. (We actually take the time to learn about you and the cultural and oppressive influences that both you and your lineage have and continue to experience.)
  • Maintain awareness of our own intersecting identities and privileges as well as the lived experiences that have or haven’t been had. (We don’t pretend to know exactly what you have been through or what you are currently going through, and we are aware that there are things we may not understand as a result as you assess your sense of safety.)
  • Are flexible and fluid when it comes to the interventions we use when working with clients. (We are aware of the foundations in which psychology was developed and understand that Indigenous people were not part of the conversation. As a result, we incorporate Indigenous wisdom and practices into the tools that we use when working with you.)
  • Are aware of the individual’s choice in addition to the systemic limitations that are present. (Every individual has a choice in therapy, however there are factors that may prevent you from being able to carry out what is required as part of your treatment plan. We actively work with you, so that you can be successful with your goals.)