Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium’s Behavioral Health Department: Doorway to a Sacred Place

Doorway to a Sacred Place is a culturally responsive guide for Alaska Native peoples. It was developed focusing on the use of traditional practices, and may be used to address critical incidents in rural communities. The guide and corresponding training deliver information related to four traditional healing strategies. Each tribe may adapt or modify the information in a way that best fits their local culture or community:

  1. The Talking Circle—a technique that allows people to learn about themselves and their connection to all living things
  2. Teaching Circles—a technique that allows a facilitator and a group of individuals to share information on various  topics, including substance abuse
  3. Body Energy Work & Korean Hand Therapy— techniques that help individuals “listen to the body” and facilitate the “releasing of blockages” within the body
  4. Song, Dance, Drumming, and Storytelling—essential and common components of the learning and healing process within Alaska Native tribal communities

Notable and respected Alaska Native elders, including those serving on the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Elders Health Advisory Committee, contributed to the development of the guide. The contributors include many of Alaska’s native cultural groups, including Tlingit, Tsimshian, Inupiat, Aleut, Athabaskan, and Yupik. The Consortium intends to promote the practices of the guide through regional partnerships and statewide trainings with tribal health partners.

With funding from SAMHSA’s FY2014 Subcontracts to Build Evaluation Capacity for Evidence-Based Interventions, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium’s Behavioral Health Department will enhance the evaluation of Doorway to a Sacred Place. The goal is to determine if the guide and corresponding trainings are useful for local level first responders, community members, and behavioral health practitioners in rural Alaskan communities. Specific evaluation activities will include:

  • Using pre- and post-test measures for the associated training, allowing for culturally appropriate and reliable collection of quantitative data and for improving collaborative relationships and buy-in among stakeholders
  • Collecting three-month follow-up data from those who accessed the guide or corresponding training  to determine if and how the strategies outlined in the guide have been used in the community
  • Providing feedback to behavioral health directors on the outcomes of the evaluation findings so that they can make decisions about the use of the guide based on the Alaska-based training and community-based experiences with the guide


Contacts

Chuck Barber
Partnerships and Grants Director
Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
3900 Ambassador Drive, Ste. 401
Anchorage, AK 99508
Phone: (907) 729-2423
Email: cjbarber@anthc.org

Laura Báez
Director of Behavioral Health
Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Behavioral Health Department
3900 Ambassador Drive, Ste. 401
Anchorage, AK 99508
Phone: (907) 729-4594
Email: lbaez@anthc.org

Lakota Holman
Program Manager, Behavioral Health
Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Behavioral Health Department
3900 Ambassador Drive, Ste. 401
Anchorage, AK 99508
Phone: (907) 729-3547
Email: lrholman@anthc.org