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Many Paths: Intersections of Traditional and Western Healing

Southcentral Foundation

Southcentral Foundation in Anchorage, Alaska, has become a leader in providing traditional healing services that complement services provided by the major Western medicine center, the Alaska Native Medical Center. The Traditional Healing Clinic offers traditional healing practices to patients upon request or referral, in coordination with Western-trained providers. The clinic also offers a range of wellness, lifestyle, and trauma recovery programs for Alaska Natives.

In June 2011, the Southcentral Foundation Traditional Healing Clinic received the Indian Health Service Director’s Special Recognition Award for outstanding leadership “in demonstrating how tribal doctors, elders, and traditional healing practices can work side-by-side with Western medicine…for the ultimate benefit of Native patients, families, and communities.”

In November 2011, the Southcentral Foundation received the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award, in recognition for its outstanding commitment to excellence and results in health care.  SCF’s success is centrally based on the Nuka System of Care, which views the Alaska Native people as “customer-owners” and builds strong relationships between customers and the health providers, staff, and facilities.  “Medical, behavioral, dental, and traditional health practices and supporting infrastructure work in partnership with the Native Community to support physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness.”

Among Southcentral’s programs is the Family Wellness Warriors Initiative, which addresses domestic violence, abuse, and neglect in the Alaska Native community. Through ceremony and group therapy sessions, the program appeals to male family members to resume their traditional role as family protector, offering healing messages of individual responsibility and redemption.

The Native practices at the Southcentral Foundation Traditional Healing Clinic include:

  • Healing hands and healing touch
  • Prayer
  • Cleansing
  • Song and dance
  • Counseling
  • Talking circles
  • Medicinal garden