Department of Family Therapy Dissertations and Applied Clinical Projects

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Family Therapy


Ronald Chenail

Committee Member

James Hibel

Committee Member

Kara Erolin


Despite the abundance of literature regarding potentially effective treatment modalities for Native American clients, researchers have been unable to identify an empirically proven effective treatment modality for this population. Common recommendations/considerations for therapists working with Native clients have been identified throughout literature; however, such findings were gathered by insiders (i.e., Native researchers or trained Tribal staff), which has left questions regarding the efficacy of such recommendations when applied by non-Native therapists. Due to Native American history, elaborate IRB requirements were put in place to ensure ethical research with this population but impedes the research process. I conducted an analytic autoethnography to explore my experiences of working on an Indian reservation as an outsider/Whitegirl marriage and family therapist. Experiences were explored contextually and explanatorily through a postmodern epistemology to determine similarities/differences to common recommendations/considerations in literature. Themes that emerged from the analysis of this study reflected common factors of psychotherapy and MFT rather than aspects of a specific MFT modality. This study contributes to the expansion of knowledge regarding effective practices and therapeutic considerations for Native American clients.

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