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Native American Psychology

Native American Psychology

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Native American Psychology

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  1. Native American Psychology

  2. “What the Dominant Society Can’t Give Me” Elders are held in high esteem in the Native American culture, although the younger generation are increasingly more “bicultural” than the older generations. This movement away from traditional ways is concerning to the elders, but also to the young generation who grew up with Native American traditions but find it difficult to hold on to traditions in this society.

  3. The younger generation feels the lack of traditional guidance too, and as one person put it “I’ve asked myself what would my elders think and all that time it gives what this dominant society can’t always give me”. The Native American tribes have been trying to recapture interest in native traditions for young people, but the survey taken on Native American college students indicates that they are still very much in touch with their traditions and put great value on their culture. (Drywater-Whitekiller, 2006)

  4. Youth Development Programs • Various programs are being created to incorporate traditional values and customary practices back into children’s lives. Project Venture has activities such as camping, story telling and hiking, but also has activities such as building adobes and learning important cultural information.

  5. There are over 300 reservations and 500 federally recognized tribes, culturally-based programs for children are a great tool to increase interest in their own culture and a good way to pass on tribal values in a fun way that brings children together (Kenyon, Hanson, 2012)

  6. Blending Spirituality With psychology • As a Psychological tool , the Native American “Medicine Wheel” (Greater Circle) as a model for self-esteem, self determination, body awareness, and self-concept. Also the use of pet therapy stems from the Native American idea of “being one with all beings”, and helps children’s self-esteem and sense of responsibility.

  7. The strong spirituality of the Native American traditions works well with psychological therapy in which the purpose is to get the patient to have a better sense of self, self-esteem. The use of the modified Medicine Wheel as a tool to help children stay on task using philosophies from Native American culture that emphasizes emotional wellbeing, social connection, and connecting with the world around them. (Hunter, Sawyer, 2006)

  8. Ethnic Identity • A strong ethnic identity is believed to strengthen resilience for minorities, but with Native Americans more likely to drop out of school and abuse alcohol and other substances, it is questionable if they have a strong sense of ethnic identity due to historical and persistent culture hardships.

  9. In 2005, a measurement scale to determine ethnic identity was created in the form of a survey to measure the level of actual ethnic identity and other variables such as health. The three sections of the survey that were evaluated to determine ethnic identity were Exploration (exposure or participation in culturally relevant activities), Resolution (level of understanding of culture), and Affirmation (level of comfort of being ethnic). (Yetter, Foutch, 2013)

  10. Native American Youth Suicide • Suicide rates are 70% higher than the general public for Native American and Native Alaskan children and teens and has been described as an “epidemic”. Native American adolescents face a lot of risk factors for suicide, including poverty, depression, drug and alcohol abuse (either themselves or family members), stress, or exposure to suicide.

  11. Health care, which the US is suppose to provide for the Native Americans on the reservations, has been seriously underfunded for years, and thus cannot afford proper mental health care for these people who need it so badly. In 2003, a suicide prevention program was created to better help children and their families address risk factors and screen for mental illness. While programs like this no doubt help, it does not address the full situation and the causes of so many adolescents taking their own lives. Training of parents, teachers, and medical professionals (physical doctors, psychologists, and counselors) are desperately needed to help stop this epidemic. (Dorgan, 2010)

  12. Mental Health Services • While many funding and insurance plans are in place for Native American healthcare, a disproportionate amount actually goes to mental health (7% of the budget) to be dispensed across to those who are in need of it, and only 300 licensed medical personnel to care for the over 500,000 people living on or near a reservation.

  13. As mentioned before with the increasing amount of adolescent suicide and other Psychological issues that are seen everywhere in society but seem to be ignored on the reservations, a serious change needs to be made in psychiatrists, social workers, and other healthcare providers. (Gone, 2008)

  14. Financial Aid • Most Native Americans attending college today are first generation college attendees, and often lack social and cultural contexts to thrive in college, and are often torn between their traditional ways and the current culture often found at college campuses. Additionally, most colleges fail to incorporate any kind of multicultural programs, so the education that these Native Americans are trying to achieve completely lacks cultural perspective. Poverty is an extreme issue to Native Americans, any many cannot attend college without financial aid.

  15. While many places are offering grants to help Native American students pay for a college education, lack of knowledge of the financial aid process often stops any efforts. Additionally, financial aid programs are very difficult to get as they require extensive academic success to qualify for them (and have to meet other standards as well such as income). The education system is not set up to be beneficial to students of ethnic decent, including but not exclusive to Native American students looking to further their education. (Mendez, Malcolm, 2011)

  16. Native American VS White On Psych Test • The California Personality Inventory (a personality test) was used on 70 Native Americans and 100 white participants. The results showed that the Native American background does have an effect on ones personality (as compared to white counterparts).

  17. Native American women were “more passive” and “less verbally controlling” • White men were found to be more “conventional” in their thoughts and values • Further research is needed to determine more personality differences between cultures. (Davis, Hoffman, Nelson, 1990)

  18. California Native American Youth • A study performed showed the importance between cultural activities in the “development of ethnic identity” in Native American youth in California through typical traditional Native American activities such as pow-wows and drum groups. The relationship was present in Native American children living in urban areas, but not for children living on a reservation, which suggests that the children were not exposed to Native American traditions as much and thus previously identified with the culture less.

  19. There is a concern that with many Native American families moving off reservations and into urban settings that they, as well as their children, will lose touch with their Native American traditions. Ethnic identity is an important factor in self-esteem and may even help lower substance abuse problems. (Schweigman, Soto, Wright, Unger, 2011)

  20. Overall… • Overall, Native American Psychological needs are being severely overlooked, and they are not receiving the assistance they need. Additionally, they don’t receive enough guidance on educational aspects, leading them to be undereducated and often poverty stricken, which turns into a vicious cycle. More attention should be drawn to the shortcomings of the system that they have been placed in, and amends should be made.

  21. Bonus Fact! • Dream catchers were used to protect a sleeping person, with the theory being that pleasant dreams would slip through the center of the dream catcher and slip down the feathers to the person. Negative dreams would get caught up in the web and be destroyed when the sun came up.

  22. Yetter, G., & Foutch, V. (2013). Investigation of the Structural Invariance of the Ethnic Identity Scale With Native American Youth. Cultural Diversity And Ethnic Minority Psychology, 19(4), doi:10.1037/a0032564 Trimble, J. E., & Clearing-Sky, M. (2009). An historical profile of American Indians and Alaska Natives in psychology. Cultural Diversity And Ethnic Minority Psychology, 15(4), 338-351. doi:10.1037/a0015112 Dorgan, B. L. (2010). The tragedy of Native American youth suicide. Psychological Services, 7(3), 213-218. doi:10.1037/a0020461 Gone, J. P. (2004). Mental Health Services for Native Americans in the 21st Century United States. Professional Psychology: Research And Practice, 35(1), 10-18. doi:10.1037/0735-7028.35.1.10 Norton, I. M., & Manson, S. M. (1996). Research in American Indian and Alaska Native communities: Navigating the cultural universe of values and process. Journal Of Consulting And Clinical Psychology, 64(5), 856-860. doi:10.1037/0022-006X.64.5.856

  23. Thomason, T. C. (1999). Improving the recruitment and retention of Native American students in psychology. Cultural Diversity And Ethnic Minority Psychology, 5(4), 308-316. doi:10.1037/1099-9809.5.4.308 • Mendez, J. P., Mendoza, P., & Malcolm, Z. (2011). The impact of financial aid on Native American students. Journal Of Diversity In Higher Education, 4(1), 12-25. doi:10.1037/a0021202 • Davis, G. L., Hoffman, R. G., & Nelson, K. S. (1990). Differences between Native Americans and Whites on the California Psychological Inventory. Psychological Assessment: A Journal Of Consulting And Clinical Psychology, 2(3), 238-242. doi:10.1037/1040-3590.2.3.238 • Schweigman, K., Soto, C., Wright, S., & Unger, J. (2011). The relevance of cultural activities in ethnic identity among California Native American youth. Journal Of Psychoactive Drugs, 43(4), 343-348. • All Images obtained via google images