Talk therapy did not begin with Freud’s “talking cure”. Rather, strategic conversations have likely always been an important tool in the tool kits of Indigenous healers. My teachers often referred to deep, therapeutic discussions as “wisdom talks,” opportunities to speak with the elders, consider the problems in one’s ways, and, in the process, change one’s life.
Most likely, traditional healers have always known about “cognitive distortions,” those “crazy ideas” we all carry around with us, concepts and beliefs that make living in balance difficult. That said, it is important to understand that wisdom talks are only partially about the mind. Rather, they seek to balance mind, heart, and gut (intuition) in the service of the individual, and thus, the community, a community built on diversity and acceptance. Mind alone is not viewed as particularly trustworthy. Mind, heart, intuition, and spirit are all essential to human life, equally valued. We, as whole persons, are held in the arms of the larger community; community is then supported by innumerable beings, seen and unseen, that work with people to create continuity across generations. All of this occurs in a world saturated by relationship and Spirit. Thus, therapeutic conversations are understood to be about the sacred. Continue reading