• October 2009
  • Vol. 10, No. 8

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Evidence-Based Practice in American Indian Communities

Organizations serving children and youth are encouraged to incorporate evidence-based practices into their work, but research shows that services are more effective when they are tailored to the cultural values and traditions of the communities they serve. In response to the growing need for culturally appropriate treatment programs for children who have experienced trauma, the Indian Country Child Trauma Center (ICCTC) at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center offers several evidence-based treatments for use with American Indian and Alaska Native children and youth.

A recent article in ABA Child Law Practice describes how ICCTC, in collaboration with the National Childhood Traumatic Stress Network and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), adapted existing evidence-based treatments to incorporate traditional healing practices, teachings, and concepts relevant in Indian Country. Each program emphasizes the American Indian value of respecting and honoring children and incorporates the importance of cultural identity and individuality:

  • The Honoring Children, Making Relatives program is based on parent-child interaction therapy.
  • The Honoring Children, Respectful Ways program provides treatment for children with sexual behavior problems.
  • Honoring Children, Honoring the Future makes use of an evidence-based youth suicide prevention curriculum.
  • Honoring Children, Mending the Circle incorporates trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy adapted for traditional beliefs and practices.

For more information, read "Adapting Evidence-Based Treatments for Use With American Indian and Native Alaskan Children and Youth," by Delores Subia BigFoot and Janie Braden, published in ABA Child Law Practice, 28(5), pp. 76-78:

www.abanet.org/child/clp/archives/vol28/jul09.pdf (96 KB)

Related Item

SAMHSA recently released a new pocket resource for service providers working with Tribes. "CultureCard: A Guide to Build Cultural Awareness: American Indian and Alaska Native" is a portable guide that provides brief summaries of customs, beliefs, and social norms to improve cultural competence when serving families in Tribal communities. Workers are encouraged to carry the guide with them and read it as a refresher before they visit Tribal communities.

Some of the many topics addressed in the guide include:

  • Communication styles
  • Self-awareness and etiquette
  • Spirituality
  • The role of veterans and elders
  • Community strengths
  • Historic distrust
  • Regional and cultural differences

Download the "CultureCard" or order copies on the SAMHSA website:



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