Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Publication Title

Counseling American Minorities


The need for improved counseling and mental health services for Native Americans is readily apparent. Several significant mental health concerns exist within the Native American population, including high rates of depression, suicide, substance use, and post-traumatic stress syndrome (Indian Health Services, 2001). In fact, the Indian Health Services (IHS) reports that mental health concerns account for more than one third of the demand for services from IHS facilities. However, there is a serious lack of resources for meeting these needs. Furthermore, an astounding lack of attention is paid to Native American issues in the professional counseling and psychological literature, which further impairs the ability of professionals to offer high-quality and culturally relevant services.

The lack of both clinical services and empirical research highlights the necessity of attending to the mental health concerns of Native Americans. In this chapter, we review issues related to counseling and treatment of emotional and mental health concerns of Native American clients. To begin with, we review Native American perceptions and use of counseling and mental health services. This review is followed by a discussion of ways in which traditional Native healing approaches and conventional counseling might conflict. Finally, in the majority of the chapter, we address issues of treatment and assessment, paying specific attention to attempts to integrate conventional and indigenous treatment strategies.

First Page


Last Page



This chapter has been deposited on the UND Scholarly Commons with permission from its initial publisher McGraw-Hill. It is available in print as:

Juntunen, Cindy L. and Paula M. Morin. “Treatment Issues for Native Americans: An Overview of Individual, Family, and Group Strategies.” Counseling American Minorities (ed. Donald R. Atkinson), McGraw-Hill Companies Inc, 2004, pp. 193-216.