Dreaming Indigenous graduate student experience into existence: laying medicine on the path for culturally safe counselling psychology programs




Day, Stephanie

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This study highlights the voices of six Indigenous graduate students (including the author) currently and previously enrolled in counselling psychology through a collective narrative that tells the stories of our educational experiences and dream for the future of counselling psychology education. The significance of this research lies in its unique methodological considerations and expansion of existing literature from professional perspectives. Indigenous methodology and qualitative organizational tools were used to explore the study’s research questions. The six kʌtyóhkwa who engaged in this study came from diverse backgrounds and lived experiences and had attended one of three educational programs: 1) mainstream counselling psychology; 2) Indigenous communities counselling psychology; and 3) Aboriginal communities counselling psychology. We explored the research questions through one-on-one storytelling visits, talking circle facilitation protocols, and dreaming for the future – all grounded in Indigenous principles of relationality. Findings demonstrate themes of: relationality, experiential learning, diversity in knowledge sharers, and relevancy of program members, as well as the importance of mandatory Indigenous pre-requisite courses, cultural humility, teachings about how to be a good person, rather than how to be a good counsellor, and interviews for program entry are part of the collective dream for the future. Areas of further research include: 1) a larger study with a broader circle of participants; 2) the prevalence of cultural isolation or fulfillment amongst Indigenous graduate students and their supervisors in counselling psychology; 3) in-depth exploration of programmatic policy changes necessary within counselling psychology programs; and 4) development of measures to assess the effectiveness, strengths, and areas for growth of a national Indigenous faculty and student mentorship pilot program in counselling psychology.



Community-led Research, Counselling Psychology, Cultural Safety, Indigenous Pedagogies in Education, Institutional Decolonization, Wholistic Mental Health and Wellness and Indigenous Peoples