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Mental Health and Counselling

The Ilisaqsivik Society has been providing counselling to Clyde River residents since its founding in 1997.  Our counselling model combines western and traditional Inuit knowledge and counselling practices.  Over time, we have grown our services to include elders, youth, and family counselling, addictions, and critical incident and trauma.  Land-based counseling and healing workshops are also central to our counselling model.

Our goal is to offer counselling in a way that engages individuals and families holistically, so that the skills they learn can be easily incorporated into their daily lives.  We also focus on providing tools and methods  support individuals and families in situations of crisis and stress.  Our approach integrates storytelling, spending time on the land, and talking with and supporting each other while doing activities like sewing, hunting, and cooking.

Clyde River residents struggle with a range of interpersonal and personal challenges, many of which are similar to human communities everywhere, and others which may be more specific to the Canadian Inuit experience.  Topics that arise in counselling sessions and trainings include residential schools, the dog slaughter, the sanitorium experience, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse and addiction, teenage pregnancy, domestic violence, sexual abuse jealousy, issues that arise from living in multigenerational households, and adoption, among other issues.

In addition to providing ongoing counselling programs, lisaqsivik also offers counsellor training programs.  In partnership with Life Works Counselling and Training Services, we developed a two year, four-part training called “Our Life’s Journey: Inuit Counsellor’s Training and Mentorship Program.”

We have developed and run regional workshops, including the Baffin Region Counsellors’ Addictions Training and Mentorship Program (2008 − 2009), which trained caregivers in fields that included child welfare, health centers, school counselors, addictions programs, mental health workers, youth workers, home care workers, elder-care workers, clergy, corrections, and justice workers.

Our counsellor training programs address many specific knowledge and skill areas to help enhance the ability of counsellors to respond to the variety of needs (emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual) in remote, Inuit Arctic communities.  Specific topics include FASD, parenting, abuse and violence, impacts of relocation, impacts of residential schools, boundary-setting, suicide, emotional management, and mental illness.

Trainings incorporate Inuit language, culture, traditions and values.  They involve on-the-land training and incorporate arts and crafts such as carving, crocheting, or sewing traditional clothing as therapeutic methods.  They offer training in a variety of counselling and therapeutic models, including traditional Inuit counselling, utilizing counselling maps, storytelling, effective communication, developing a therapeutic relationship, constellation work, and play therapy.