Moving from Colonization toward Balance and Harmony: A Native American Perspective on Wellness


American Indians; cultural competency; Native Americans; practice perspectives; spirituality


At best, mainstream mental health services are often ineffective with Native American clients, and, at worst, they are a vehicle for Western colonization. As such, the authors explore the notion of abandoning the Western therapeutic project and rebuilding the helping process on the basis of indigenous knowledge foundations. To this end, they discuss a Native perspective on wellness that emphasizes balance among the interconnected areas of spirit, body, mind, and context or environment. From this perspective, mental health is a product of balance and harmony among these four areas. The authors conclude with a discussion of the practice implications of this relationally based perspective in which practitioners target interventions toward improving balance and harmony.

Original Publication Citation

Hodge, D., Limb, G., & Cross, T. (2009). Moving from colonization toward balance and harmony: A Native American perspective on wellness. Social Work, 54(3), 211-219.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


National Association of Social Workers




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Social Work

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor