Applied Indigenous Social Work Issues

Applied Indigenous Social Work Issues

Using the Steps of the Problem-solving Process Kim and Ann’s Case Study

Social Work Issues: From Benzos to Berries

An indigenous worldview is both holistic and relational. In this case, the community, land, and culture are more valued than its constituent components. Furthermore, the people are deeply connected with everyone and everything around them. This is very important to understand the First Nation cultures whereby to help an individual within the culture; one ought to understand what is around them. Therefore, the cultural context is more influential in the indigenous worldview than in the Western Worldview.

Indigenous Culture and Worldview

Understanding the culture and worldview is critical to helping an indigenous client with addiction and mental health problems. It is essential to note that the indigenous cultures are very diverse. The application of the indigenous worldview holistic healing is critical, which includes enhancing spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional health.

Substance Abuse and Addiction Among the First Nations People

As noted in Dell et al. (2011), substance abuse and addiction are more prevalent among the indigenous people than in the general population in Canada. The researchers focus on the abuse of solvents by the Inuit youth. This has been attributed to the lack of cultural balance in dealing with stress and adversity and community support leading to the abuse of drugs.

Social Work Issues

Inuit Culture

Within the Inuit culture, the individual’s inner wellbeing is connected with the land, community, and culture is very critical and helps the individual be resilient in the face of adversity. Therefore, a counsellor must be aware of the indigenous worldview and incorporate it in therapy. While the counsellor would take an individualistic approach from a Western worldview perspective, they would be required to take a more social-centric approach while dealing with the indigenous worldview.

Read Also: Provincial Law of Applicability First Nations

Mental Health Problems Among the First Nations People

Dell et al. (2011) explored the risk factors for addiction and mental health problems among the First Nations people in Canada. In the modern-day, the indigenous people continue to experience racism and discrimination, both systemically and overtly. This includes the historical trauma associated with being forced into the reservations by the European invaders.

Furthermore, there is violence within the Inuit culture, including gang, sexual, and domestic violence. Moreover, there is poverty and high levels of poverty and unemployment. While applying the indigenous perspective in counselling, storytelling was incorporated whereby the addicts relay their stories of struggles with substance abuse.

Western and Indigenous Worldviews

This calls for integrating the Western and indigenous worldviews while treating mental health problems among the Inuit people. The fact that intergenerational trauma is evident within the community means that a holistic approach that considers the past, present, and future would be of the essence to the therapist.

The effectiveness of applying the indigenous worldview at Nimkee NupiGawagan Healing Centre proves that cultural-based models can be effective in providing treatment to indigenous people. This is because it provides for the overall wellbeing of the individual with the inclusion of mental, physical, social, and spiritual health.

For example, spiritual intervention, which includes the use of healing songs, facilitates the internal strength and energy of the addict, something that is critical in the journey to sobriety. This is quite unlikely in the case of the Western Worldview.

Social Work Issues: Knowledge translation

Knowledge translation is a multidimensional concept that refers to applying measurements, methods, and mechanisms while influencing the interaction between the individual and contextual levels. The type of knowledge transfer used at Nimkee NupiGawagan Healing Centre is storytelling.

Here, the recovering substance addicts relay their experiences and difficulties resulting from the addiction. This is one of the evidence of the separation between the Aboriginal and Western worldviews, despite it being a valuable tool in the clinical setting.

Applied Indigenous Social Work Issues

In the healing centre, the youth who would abuse solvents relayed their trauma and pain attributed to the colonization. For example, Joseph narrated how learning his cultural heritage and spiritual beliefs facilitated his recovery from solvent abuse. He reveals that the spiritual pursuit was a path to his true identity. His family members also accompanied him to the healing centre, where they together learned about their heritage.

Social-centric vs Individualistic Indigenous Worldview

This confirms the claim that the indigenous worldview is social-centric rather than individualistic. Through storytelling, the youth who had previously fallen to substance abuse shared stories, which is also evident in the alcoholics anonymous under the Western worldview. While the recovering addict tells the story of his trauma, they create a connection with themselves due to the creation of the mind-body connection.

As the recovering addict relates their trauma to the other addicts, they can create a balance between their ability to cope with adversity and community support. Therefore they feel heard and not isolated from other members of the Inuit culture. Storytelling facilitates the flow of mutual compassion between the narrator and the audience. The recovering addict can connect with the community in the process of sharing something that facilitates a healthy mindset for the individual.


Through storytelling, the youth learn about the Inuit traditions, which facilitates the acquisition of identity, value, and language. Furthermore, knowledge translation facilitates the closing of the gap between practice and knowledge by increasing sensitivity to an experience. This exposes the separation between the Western and the Aboriginal understanding of mental illness and health.

Storytelling is in line with the socio-centric nature of the indigenous worldview. The indigenous worldview provides room for human agency. In the case of John, the spiritual intervention involves facilitating his reconnection with internal strength and energy. Intergenerational trauma is better dealt with in a collective setting through storytelling than individuals in isolation.

Social Work Issues


  • Dell, C. A., Seguin, M., Hopkins, C., Tempier, R., Mehl-Madrona, L., Dell, D., … & Mosier, K. (2011). From benzos to berries: treatment offered at an Aboriginal youth solvent abuse treatment centre relays the importance of culture. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry56(2), 75-83.
  • Heinonen, T. & Spearman , L. (2010). Social work practice: Problem solving and beyond (3rd ed.). Winnipeg , Manitoba: Nelson Education.

Read Also: Modern Day Native Americans in Anglo-American World

Calculate Price

Price (USD)

Calculate Price

Price (USD)