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September 17, 2013

Reconciling Indigenous Healing

Two JIBC Instructors Host Friday TRC Session

Two Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) instructors set to host a session at Truth and Reconciliation events in Vancouver this week want to ensure participants at Reconciling Indigenous Healing and Health Education, will carry a little bit of healing away with them on Friday afternoon. 

Instructors Shirley Turcotte and Alannah Young-Leon, joined by Musqueam Elder Jeri Sparrow, have spent many hours with other volunteers preparing small jars of a healing salve made from herbs (calendula, rose petals, lavender, chickweed, red clover, chamomile, sage sticks and others) grown in the Aboriginal garden on The UBC Farm.  The wonderfully earthy salve was made to help participants stay grounded if they become overwhelmed by what they are hearing and feeling at BC’s Truth and Reconciliation events this week. 

Turcotte and Young-Leon are instructors within JIBC’s Aboriginal Focusing-Oriented Therapy (AFOT) and Complex Trauma Certificate, offered through JIBC’s School of Community and Social Justice. The specialized 21-day Certificate is intended for therapists, health professionals and anyone who works with Indigenous agencies or communities and clients with complex trauma and post-traumatic stress caused by residential school, family violence, addictions, loss and grieving, suicide, sexual,  and physical and emotional abuse.  AFOT can be used with all cultures and age groups. 

Turcotte, a Metis knowledge keeper, registered clinical counselor and certified trainer of AFOT, says that residential school survivors in attendance at TRC may want to bring some very specific items to help them this week. They may want to bring something that keeps them in an adult state, items that are culturally sensitive. They could choose to bring a person or people with them, either spiritually or physically, and they may want to bring some earth in the form of trees, water, and bark. Turcotte says each survivor she has worked with as a counselor reacts differently to having told their stories in response to the trauma of their residential school experiences. 

Alannah Young-Leon, Opaskwayak Cree/Peguis Anishinabe, and a Ph.D. candidate at UBC, views the Certificate as a way to train front-line workers in order for them to spread AFOT to a core group of aboriginal leadership. Alannah’s mother is a residential school survivor. 

Focusing, a body-centred, person-centred approach to healing was developed two decades ago by Eugene Gendlin, who, in collaboration with the late humanist Carl Rogers, found it possible to predict how much clients would benefit from therapy based on their ways of being. Clients who experienced the greatest benefits paused more often, stopped in the middle of a sentence to sense what they had said or to sit with some uncertainty. They seemed willing to deal with unclear aspects of their experience. They were sensing some totality of their inner experience that was vague and difficult to describe and the more they focused on this vague sensation, giving it attention and respect, the inner experience became clearer and a space opened up for new insights and unexpected possibilities. The “felt sense” of the situation changed and the shift in their bodily felt experience is what often led to changes in behavior.

Turcotte describes Land-Based Aboriginal Focusing Oriented therapy as an adaption from Gendlin’s therapy that allows clients control over the pace and direction of their healing journeys.

The session, Reconciling Indigenous Healing and Health Education, is happening at the PNE Forum building between 1 pm and 3:30 pm, Friday, September 20th. It is free of charge and open to the general public.

Tags: Aboriginal

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Last updated April 4, 2017