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


Christopher Burnett

Committee Member

James Hibel

Committee Member

Shelley Green


The purpose of this ethnographic study was to examine the process of a family therapist entering and then navigating the cultural system of working with substance abusing Seminole tribal clients. The study also utilized two tribal members sharing their opinions about how Seminoles view therapy. As noted in the interview questions and responses, the research presented guidelines for family therapists to follow when working with tribal members. Because there has been no study conducted with family therapists providing clinical services to tribal members, this study introduced tools for clinicians to keep in mind and utilize when working with tribal clients.

The interviews illustrated what specific routes therapists may take with tribal clients in order to join and connect. This study provided the field of family therapy an opportunity to become familiar with the Seminole tribe, and guidelines of how to remain mindful when working with this unique population. These results were supplemented by the researcher providing personal reflections on her experiences with tribal clients.

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