Date of Award

January 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling Psychology & Community Services

First Advisor

Rachel L. Navarro


This descriptive exploratory research is amongst the first to investigate Spiritual Microaggressions experienced by Indigenous Peoples across North America. Microaggressions can further be conceptualized and categorized as microassaults, microinsults, and microinvalidations. Participants who self-identify as Indigenous individuals ages 18 and over, from North America, who work in or are educated in the mental health field engaged in 60-90-minute interviews to explore the spiritual microaggressions incurred upon them. A total of 8 participants who identify as mental health professionals and graduate students in the mental health field were interviewed as an intensity sample. Participants discussed the implications of Indigenous Spiritual Microaggressions (ISM) including how they have been impacted emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, and interpersonally by these incidents. Participants also shared the impact that these incidents have had on their livelihood, how they have coped with them, and what they hope can be done to mitigate ISM in the future. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, de-identified, and analyzed for thematic content using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Experiential data were contextually coded, emergent themes were created, and sorted into relevant superordinate categories and sub-themes. A cross-analysis was then conducted to consolidate requisite thematic constructs across participants. Superordinate interview themes that were found include: ISM Microaggression Taxonomy Endorsement and Accouterments (Microinvalidation, Microinsult, Microassault, Lateral Microaggressions), ISM Perpetrator Characteristics and Responses, ISM Responses, ISM Coping, ISM Mitigation, Impact of ISM on Indigenous Peoples, and Research Interview Reactions. An auditing process took place for quality control, and superordinate themes and subthemes were depicted via the use of deidentified participant quotes. This mechanism for displaying thematic content holds deference to traditional Indigenous oral story telling culture, which emphasizes subjective and experiential knowledge gained through allegorical means. Implications for theoretical paradigm shifts, clinical practice, and social justice will be discussed, including suggestions for multiculturally appropriate coping skills, policy enactments and changes to mitigate microaggression frequency/severity, and a rationale for the novel conceptual category of lateral microaggressions.