"Healing for me is reconciling myself with my history, my family and the associated heartache, despair, trauma, addictions, self-doubt and hopelessness that comes with an inability to truly connect with other people because no-one understands my pain, loss and questions." Voices from the campfires: Establishing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation
Australian Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation
Quotes from ten different people participating in a national consultation process:
"Initially, I think healing is about recognition. Recognition, both internally and externally, of self, of others and as a collective that there are ‘issues’. That there is pain. That there is anger and hurt and sadness that stems from past events. And that this anger, hurt and sadness is handed down, like an unwanted legacy, though the generations of our people. Once there is that recognition, collective recognition, of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and of all Australians, then begins the process of healing. Healing is a change. A change of attitude, a change of behaviours that have become entrenched."
"It [healing] meant knowing where I fitted in the world. It was about being accepted and about belonging to someone or something. It meant feeling at peace, at one with the land and then within the family."
"Healing to me is being able to come to terms with the trauma I’ve experienced throughout my life, and the fact I cannot change what has already occurred, but I can start to connect with my spiritual self and take the time I need by myself to discover what the road ahead has in store for me."
"Healing to me also means cleansing my mind from the memories of traumatic events, and realising that whatever took place was beyond my control and wasn’t my fault."
"Healing comes from acceptance, within your skin and within your people and community."
"Healing for me is reconciling myself with my history, my family and the associated heartache, despair, trauma, addictions, self-doubt and hopelessness that comes with an inability to truly connect with other people because no-one understands my pain, loss and questions."
"Whitefella sorry business way is not sorry business blackfella way."
"Healing means to be or make whole. To put together the broken or damaged bits so that the one can feel good again and be more resilient in the future. Healing often is painful as a process but results in learning more about myself and what I need to be well in myself."
"Too many of our people have turned to drugs and alcohol to ease pain and it’s not the way we heal."
"Once the healing is done there needs to be celebration on an individual, community and cultural level in recognition that the trauma, grief and pain has been overcome and healing is taking place. Acknowledging progression along the healing journey, no matter how small the steps, is very important."
Voices from the campfires: Establishing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation
Aboriginal Healing Foundation in Canada
Summary of findings from interviews of clients and staff of five healing programmes:
"… healing is an active, not passive, process: it is something you do, not something you think or that is done to you. In this sense, healing is work, it is ongoing and requires dedication. First and foremost, it requires commitment from the individual. No one can heal you or make you heal. Personal agency is stressed above all else.
The dominant metaphor in our research describes healing as a journey... The journey has a clear direction toward healing, yet it is a journey fraught with challenges. Falling off the path of healing is common, even expected by treatment staff. There is no shame to temporary setbacks, nor are these seen as failures; rather, the individual is welcomed back to continue on his or her journey when he or she feels ready...
Healing was rarely thought of in biomedical terms, and even conventional psychotherapeutic understandings were largely absent. Rather, what emerged is a common theme that healing is ultimately about the reparation of damaged and disordered social relations. The individual, through outwardly and self-destructive behaviours, has become disconnected from family, friends, community, and even his or her heritage.
The reason for undertaking healing is often found in the clients’ desire to make amends and to be accepted back into the web of relationships. Healing, then, speaks to a form of Aboriginal sociality that reduces the degree of self-indulgence and self-pity and frames one’s problems and the solutions in broader, collective terms.
It does not deny historical processes or the legacy of the residential schools, which have created the conditions for social and psychological discontent; rather, it helps individuals understand why they have problems in a manner that allows them to simultaneously see that, while victims of oppression, they retain the necessary agency to change their lives for the better. Healing, then, is ultimately about hope for the individual, the family, the community, and the future..." Aboriginal Healing in Canada: Studies in Therapeutic Practice and Meaning.
Aboriginal Men's Healing programs in Australia run by Colin Moore and Mark Williams - Owner/ Directors of Authentic Community Training. These programs draw upon cultural practices, modern psychotherapy, connection to land, elders, spiritual connectedness and leadership development.
> What is Healing and How Does It Occur?