Abstract: The Use of Storytelling As a Competent Therapeutic Modality with Indigenous Survivors of Sexual Violence: A Scoping Review and Thematic Analysis (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

167P The Use of Storytelling As a Competent Therapeutic Modality with Indigenous Survivors of Sexual Violence: A Scoping Review and Thematic Analysis

Friday, January 13, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Farah Mahmoud, MSW, PhD Student, Florida International University, Miami, FL
Background: Indigenous populations across the United States experience sexual violence in staggering numbers. Approximately 56.1% of women and 27.5% of men have experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives. 49% of Indigenous women and 19.9% of Indigenous men who have experienced sexual violence reported needing mental health services to assist in mitigating distress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. However, services offered to reduce PTSD symptoms lack the inclusion of cultural healing practices that are present in Indigenous populations. The use of storytelling may incorporate healing practices that are culturally appropriate for Indigenous survivors of sexual assault. A scoping review has been conducted to determine the present status and extant of the literature and the scope of what is currently known.

Methods: An online database search was conducted using PsychINFO, ProQuest, PubMed, PILOTs: Published International Literature on Traumatic Stress, Web of Science (WoS), and Google Scholar. Relevant articles reference lists were also searched. Articles were included if they used storytelling as an intervention, focused on Indigenous populations who experienced sexual violence, and used a qualitative approach. Exclusionary criteria were articles not written in English and published more than 20 years ago. Inductive thematic analysis was used to determine higher level themes present in the articles. Discernable findings were coded using ATLAS.Ti software for thematic analysis to ensure inclusion of different disciplinary and cultural perspectives.

Results and Discussion: The search yielded 959 articles resulting in 7 relevant studies that met the inclusionary criteria. Two studies were based in the United States, two in Canada, two in Australia, and one in New Zealand. Several themes emerged while conducting the thematic analysis. The overarching themes include a foundation of trauma, adverse methods of coping, mental health implications, an introduction of culturally appropriate interventions, and the resulting healing of the wound and spirit through cultural closeness. Some subthemes that persisted through the analysis are historical and generational trauma, colonization, sexual abuse, empowerment through sharing voices, resilience, and importance of reconnecting with culture. The introduction of storytelling highlighted resilience of Indigenous communities and the benefits of individuals giving voice to the trauma they experience personally and as a part of a larger whole.

Implications: The benefits of storytelling as a component of the therapeutic process should be integrated into healing practices for Indigenous populations. Moreover, it is important to provide an environment where Indigenous people can discuss the racism, colonialism, and other historical traumas that have adversely impacted them and their community. Consideration of those implementing storytelling approaches must be mindful of the underlying trauma Indigenous populations experience and withhold from engaging in colonial settler practices. Further research is required to determine the adaptability of storytelling for those who are frequently experiencing discrimination and historical trauma whose voices have also been stifled or silenced.