Authors: Lewis Mehl-Madrona
Event: 2017 TheMHS Conference
Subject: keynote, video, indigenous, services
Type of resource: Video
Abstract: View the video of Lewis Mehl-Madrona's Keynote Presentation at TheMHS Conference 2017 in Sydney, Australia. The presentation is also followed by a Q&A session.
Conventional mental health systems have historically operated from a top-down, hierarchical model in which, as one cartoon puts it, “the client is always wrong.” This approach has alienated many consumers of services, especially marginalized populations such as indigenous people. The level of discontent with conventional services has only grown as biomedical psychiatry as come to dominate the field. This alienation has led to exciting innovations, including the recovery movement, the Hearing Voices Network, and the idea of accepting the client’s version of reality. Two-Eyed Seeing is an approach for integrating these perspectives. Developed within the aboriginal community of Canada (M’ikmaw Nation) by traditional elder Albert Marshall at Cape Breton University (Nova Scotia), the idea proposes a collaborative, interactive style of explanatory pluralism, in which we begin with the idea of inter-dependence and inter-connectedness. All voices involved in a problem need to be heard. All perspectives are treated as valid. Through interactive discussions, paths for healing are chosen that respect all perspectives and fit within the client’s world view. In aboriginal settings, this involves making traditional healers and culture keepers as available as conventional psychiatrists and psychotherapists and using approaches such as the Talking Circle (a North American indigenous version of Open Dialogue) to resolve differences and conflict. Alternatives and innovations become available in a manner that has both quality control and room to operate. Conventional hegemonies of power and control are displaced toward egalitarian and cooperative relationships for the benefit of both consumers and providers of services.