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On Demand

Planting the Seeds: The Influence of Culture on Resilience, Hope and Wellness

You may earn this many credits: 1.5

Dr. LaVerne Demientieff, Ph.D.
1.5 Hours
Audio and Video


Session Description

Dr. LaVerne Xilegg Demientieff will discuss her on-going research related to understanding how cultural and traditional practices support well-being and health within the community. Some core beliefs guiding her work and this presentation include: Indigenous cultural practices must continue to exist for another 10,000+ years; cultural practices serve as a guide for wellness and healing in our communities and organizations and systems; Indigenous people and rural communities have the strength, resilience and capacity to confront the challenges that face them; and Indigenous communities should be at the helm of all research that involves them. This presentation will discuss utilizing cultural/traditional practices for prevention and intervention to enhance resilience and connectedness and decrease risk factors starting at a grassroots level, as well as increase the effectiveness of organizations and systems that work with Indigenous and rural populations. Examples of resilience and wellness are rooted in all cultures and communities across Alaska and beyond. Society as a whole can learn a lot from the wisdom and practices of these diverse cultures that incorporate connection, belonging, and healing into community practices. This presentation is aimed at building awareness and understanding related to the impact culture has on the well-being and quality of life of Indigenous people; as well as to highlight the inherent strengths, resilience, knowledge, coping mechanisms, and practices of Indigenous people historically, which aided in survival during difficult times. These are a foundation for wellness and healing processes today. As discussed within Indigenous literature and communities, “culture is medicine”. Indigenous people learn traditional values and how to be in relationship with the physical and spirit world through the cultural practices modeled by our Elders, parents, and community leaders and seeds of wellness are rooted within us.There are many statistics that highlight some of the many challenges Indigenous people face today. However, they do not highlight the potential and possibilities of a strong and enduring people. Wellness, as it has been written and discussed by many Indigenous scholars, is shaped by a holistic combination of factors (mind, body, spirit, environment, history, traditions, and relationships). Studies done through the guidance of community participation are not only proven to be more effective but increase the level of community action in creating solutions in a manner that fits with the community. It is essential that Indigenous people tell their own stories that describe the “who,” “what,” “where,” and “how” of Indigenous and rural life in order to shape their own destiny. Utilizing culture within interventions can serve as an important “buffer” to the challenges faced and have numerous other benefits.

This session is at the introductory level and is designed for psychologists and other mental health professionals.

At the end of this program, participants will be able to: 

  1. Describe the role of contemporary and traditional wellness and strength-based strategies in the healing and coping process. 
  2. Identify cultural resources that can strengthen and improve knowledge and practices when working with individuals who have experienced and who are healing from historical trauma and grief. 
  3. Identify alternative health and wellness strategies utilizing examples from rural and Indigenous communities. 

This session qualifies for 1.5 continuing education credits. You must attend the full program to receive continuing education credit.

The Minnesota Psychological Association is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Minnesota Psychological Association maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

This program was cosponsored with: APA Committee on Rural Health; Illinois P.A.; National Association of County Behavioral Health & Developmental Disability Directors; National Association for Rural Mental Health; Hawaii P.A.; Minnesota Association for Marriage and Family Therapy; Southwest Virginia Psychology Doctoral Internship Consortium; Kansas P.A.; Indiana P.A.; Southern Illinois University



Dr. LaVerne Demientieff, Ph.D. Related Seminars and Products

Associate Professor of Social Work

University of Alaska, Fairbanks

Dr. LaVerne Xilegg Demientieff is an Associate Professor of Social Work at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Bachelor of Social Work program, where she has taught since 2006.  She is a licensed master social worker through the state of Alaska.  Dr. Demientieff received an Master's of Social Work from Washington University, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, St. Louis, MO and her PhD in Social Work from the University of Utah in 2017.  Her PhD dissertation was focused on Indigenous wellness, and her current research is focused on looking at how traditional practices in Dene' communities (one urban, one rural) lead to health and wellness prevention and intervention.  She is a statewide trainer on the topics of historical trauma and historical wellness, adverse childhood experiences, resilience, trauma informed care, and healing centered care.  Dr. Demientieff's research interests focus on examining how cultural and traditional practices contribute to individual, family, group and community resilience, health, healing and wellness, specifically with indigenous people of Alaska.  


The presenter reports no conflicts of interest.