Emotional and Spiritual Aspects of Care: Traditional Healing at Southcentral Foundation

Southcentral Foundation’s vision is a Native Community that enjoys physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness. SCF works with customer-owners to ensure that all of those aspects of wellness are achieved. While our primary care and behavioral services have already been discussed on this blog, this article will detail another SCF department: our Traditional Healing Clinic.

SCF’s Traditional Healing Clinic offers both physical treatments and counseling sessions. Appointments are available for customer-owners through referral from other SCF departments. Departments that can refer a customer-owner to Traditional Healing include Primary Care, OB-GYN, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, and Behavioral Health.

Customer-owners go to the Traditional Healing Clinic for a number of reasons. The most common of these is pain; 53 percent of customer-owners who went to Traditional Healing in 2015 did so for either acute or chronic pain. The next most common reason was behavioral health and counseling, with 20 percent of customer-owners who went to Traditional Healing going for this reason.

Traditional healing is provided by tribal doctors, who are certified by the Traditional Healing Elders’ Advisory Council. Services provided can vary depending on the tribal doctor’s skills, but they are always culturally relevant, holistic and based on the customer-owner’s defined needs and goals. Traditional Healing honors Alaska Native healing practices and integrates spirituality into healing. Referral to the Traditional Healing Clinic is needed every six months so that the customer-owner’s primary care provider has input into care decisions as well.

At the 2016 SCF Gathering, customer-owners were asked how important it was to bring culture and traditions into their health care. 89 percent of respondents said that it was either “extremely important” (56 percent) or “important” (33 percent). Traditional Healing helps to address that need. When asked about the value of the Traditional Healing Clinic, one primary care provider replied “It is a unique service that meets a need not otherwise addressed. I have only ever received positive feedback from customer-owners.”

For SCF customer-owners who make use of the Traditional Healing Clinic, it is a valuable resource to help them achieve the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness we strive for.