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August 2019

Am Indian Alsk Native Ment Health Res. 1995 ; 6(3): 1-22.

Healing the warrior: admission of two American Indian war-veteran cohort groups to a specialized inpatient PTSD unit.

Scurfield RM.

Pacific Center for PTSD, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813, USA.

The American Lake VA Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Treatment Program provides intensive inpatient treatment for war-related PTSD and associated conditions. As part of a substantial outreach effort to American Indians (AI) in the Northwest U.S., the program significantly modified its admission criteria and treatment to be more clinically and culturally relevant. An all-AI cohort, and then a group that was 50% AI, were admitted. Highlighted are lessons learned regarding: treating "traditional" versus more "assimilated" AI veterans; culture-specific additions of building and utilizing a sweatlodge on the hospital grounds, hiring an AI spiritual leader as a clinical advisor, and promoting attendance at weekend Pow-Wows; the relevance of the "regular" treatment components; and the need for regular debriefings about counter-transference dynamics among staff.


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