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.