ArticlePDF Available

Communicating Power and Resistance: Exploring Interactions between Aboriginal Youth and Non-Aboriginal Staff Members in a Residential Child Welfare Facility


Abstract and Figures

Aboriginal youth are highly overrepresented within the child welfare system. High-risk youth are often placed in out-of-community residential placements. Such residential placements have been described by some as a continuation of colonial practices. Using communication theory as a conceptual model, we propose a qualitative analysis of micro-interactions that take place between Aboriginal youth and non-Aboriginal workers during the management of high-risk behaviors within a residential program. Three broad categories of interaction emerge from the data: complementary, symmetrical/complementary (where youth show a form of submission despite resistance), and symmetrical (characterized by a power struggle). Despite the diversity of interactions along this symmetrical to complementary continuum, interventions always start and finish in the same fashion. Moreover, the nature of interactions depended mostly on how quickly youth accepted the consequences of their behaviors. We also extracted five categories related to culture, race or context that are perceived as influencing the interactions that take place between staff and youth. The analysis of micro-interactions within clinical, organizational, social and historical contexts points to mechanisms by which asymmetrical power relations may be replicated on a day-to-day basis despite the best intentions of residential workers.
No caption available
Content may be subject to copyright.
Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at
Download by: [Bibliothèques de l'Université de Montréal] Date: 23 November 2015, At: 12:02
Qualitative Research in Psychology
ISSN: 1478-0887 (Print) 1478-0895 (Online) Journal homepage:
Communicating Power and Resistance: Exploring
Interactions between Aboriginal Youth and Non-
Aboriginal Staff Members in a Residential Child
Welfare Facility
Sarah Fraser, Mélanie Vachon, Ghayda Hassan & Valérie Parent
To cite this article: Sarah Fraser, Mélanie Vachon, Ghayda Hassan & Valérie Parent (2015):
Communicating Power and Resistance: Exploring Interactions between Aboriginal Youth and
Non-Aboriginal Staff Members in a Residential Child Welfare Facility, Qualitative Research in
Psychology, DOI: 10.1080/14780887.2015.1106629
To link to this article:
Accepted author version posted online: 20
Oct 2015.
Published online: 20 Oct 2015.
Submit your article to this journal
Article views: 5
View related articles
View Crossmark data
Communicating Power and Resistance: Exploring Interactions
between Aboriginal Youth and Non-Aboriginal StaMembers
in a Residential Child Welfare Facility
Sarah Fraser
, Mélanie Vachon
, Ghayda Hassan
, and Valérie Parent
Université de Montréal, Psychoeducation, Montreal, Quebec, Canada;
Université du Québec à Montréal,
Psychology, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Aboriginal youth are highly overrepresented within the child welfare
system. High-risk youth are often placed in out-of-community resi-
dential placements. Such residential placements have been described
by some as a continuation of colonial practices. Using communica-
tion theory as a conceptual model, we propose a qualitative analysis
of micro-interactions that take place between Aboriginal youth and
non-Aboriginal workers during the management of high-risk beha-
viors within a residential program. Three broad categories of interac-
tion emerge from the data: complementary, symmetrical/
complementary (where youth show a form of submission despite
resistance), and symmetrical (characterized by a power struggle).
Despite the diversity of interactions along this symmetrical to com-
plementary continuum, interventions always start and nish in the
same fashion. Moreover, the nature of interactions depended mostly
on how quickly youth accepted the consequences of their behaviors.
We also extracted ve categories related to culture, race or context
that are perceived as inuencing the interactions that take place
between staand youth. The analysis of micro-interactions within
clinical, organizational, social and historical contexts points to
mechanisms by which asymmetrical power relations may be repli-
cated on a day-to-day basis despite the best intentions of residential
Received 24 October 2014
Accepted 20 July 2015
Aboriginal youth; child and
youth protection;
communication theories;
interactionism; critical social
Youth in residential care often present with a history of rejection, abandonment, abuse,
and social and scholastic failure (ABT Associates 2008; Rivard et al. 2004). Low self-esteem
and diculty with cognitive control mechanisms and problem solving are not rare among
these youth (Small et al. 1991). Exposure to such life events can lead to a series of
behavioral problems including increased impulsivity, aggressive and/or delinquent beha-
viors, and mental health problems (Grogan-Kaylor et al. 2008; Malinowsky-Rummel &
Hansen 1993; Rivard et al. 2004) that can place themselves, their families, and/or their
communities at risk (ABT Associates 2008; Baker et al. 2006; Small et al. 1991). It is often
in this context of personal, family, and community risk that youth are placed in residential
CONTACT Sarah Fraser Université de Montreal, École Psychoéducation C. P. 6128,
succursale Centre-ville, Montréal, Québec H3C 3J7, Canada.
© 2015 Taylor & Francis
Downloaded by [Bibliothèques de l'Université de Montréal] at 12:02 23 November 2015
Residential workers often have a mandate of controlling the uncontrollable child(Anglin
2004; Bala 1991; Cohler & Zimmerman 2001;Imber-Black1992) all the meanwhile helping
youth modify their behaviors, rehabilitate, and reintegrate into community life. Dealing with
opposition, verbal aggression and physical aggression is a common reality for stamembers
working in residential settings. Imber-Black (1992) and others (e.g., Anglin 2004) suggest that
stamembers working for child welfare services in Canada may have a certain double, at
times contradictory, mandate of controllingand helpingyouth. This double mandate has
been the subject of discussion around issues of federal government practices toward
Aboriginal peoples. Residential school policies were part of a series of policies meant to
civilizeor modernizethe savagesin order to solve the Indian problem.The residential
school era lasted an entire decade, with the last schools closing in the early 1990s. Behind this
mandate of educating children and youth lay a multitude of oppressive practices including,
but not limited to, physical and sexual abuse, as well as strict rules prohibiting the use of
traditional language and practices. The negative long-term consequences of residential
schools on individuals, families, and communities have been well documented (Barnes
et al. 2006;Bombayetal.2011; Elias et al. 2012). The 1960s and 1970s were marked by
what is now known as the 1960s scoop, a widespread removal of Aboriginal youth from their
homes and communities to be placed in non-Aboriginal homes (Bennett 2005).
In the 1970s, certain communities started developing their own models of child welfare.
Since the 1970s, a variety of models have ourished with the objective of increasing self-
determinationof Aboriginal peoples (National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal
Health 2009). Certain reserves now administer their own child welfare agencies under
the provincial legislations and federal budgets. Despite these important eorts, inequalities
within the system of care remain and include the systematic underfunding of First Nations
child welfare agencies (Blackstock & Trocmé 2005), as well as the important overrepre-
sentation of Aboriginal children within child welfare systems (Blackstock et al. 2004;
Galley 2010; Lavergne et al. 2008;Oce of the Auditor General 2011; Trocmé et al.
2004). In a recent study conducted in,Canada it was found that 18% of youth reported to
child welfare services were Aboriginal when Aboriginal people constitute only 5% of the
overall population (Lavergne et al. 2008). Aboriginal children are twice as likely to be
placed in out-of-home care compared with non-Aboriginal children (Trocmé et al. 2004).
Due to the incredibly high rates, some have coined this phenomenon the millennium
scoopin relation to the earlier 1960s scoop. As Lafrance and Bastien (2007) note, many
are concerned that the child welfare experience may inadvertently parallel the colonial
experience of residential schools and may have similar long-term negative ramications
for Aboriginal communities.These various policies and practices have been described as
methods of surveillance and social control (Kirmayer et al. 2003; Stevenson 2014) where
the expressed objective has been to protect childrenin a context where parents and
communities are perceived and assessed as being unable to care for the children (Kirmayer
et al. 2003). The foundation that denes relationships between the state and Aboriginal
peoples is the Indian Act, which in itself denes Aboriginal peoples as Crown wards,
subjects for whom the state has a responsibility to provide care.
Many have suggested that large social phenomena arise from the accumulation of
everyday interactions between individuals. These interactions are inuenced by the
wider social context within which they take place. In this sense, social context, including
social status, social roles, institutional cultures, social expectations of behaviors, all
Downloaded by [Bibliothèques de l'Université de Montréal] at 12:02 23 November 2015
participate in generating and maintaining social dynamics via the micro-interactions that
take place among the members of a system. Patterns in micro-interactions can become a
space to reect upon the social dynamics that simultaneously participate in creating and
replicating these micro-interactions.
Considering the longstanding presence of social control within a system meant to
ensure the protection of children and youth, we questioned how issues of control may
be expressed and experienced within day-to-day interactions between Aboriginal youth in
care and staof residential facilities.
The objective of this study was to explore interactions that take place between youth
and residential stamembers mandated to manage high-risk behaviors of youth in a
residential setting. The goal of the study was to better understand the interactions and
behaviors that emerge from such interactions in order to improve residential practices and
increase opportunities for rehabilitation of youth in care.
Theoretical frameworks
Interactionism has known success in the elds of sociology, social psychology, and commu-
nications, but has been less present in clinical and experimental elds of research, two elds
that help dene the way interveners (i.e., educators, social workers, psychologists, counselors)
should and will interact with clients. Interactionism has found a small space in the eld of
cultural psychology, as theorized by Boesch in his symbolic action theory (1991). This
interpretivist approach toward cultural psychology places context at the forefront of its
analysis (Lonner & Textor 1991). There has been a call for its use in the eld of social
work (Denzin 2002;Forte2004;Martel&Brassard2008). The interactionist perspective is
descriptive and highly focused on observation of face-to-face interactions (Rose 2013;Lauer
&Handel1983). Interactionists study daily situations linking micro level interactions with
the macro contexts within which the interaction takes place applying subjective interpreta-
tions (Giddens 1984). Interactions are constructed as a function of multiple factors, including
peoples identities and social roles. Behaviors are seen as a form of personal and social
communication (Blumer 1986;LeBreton2004;Szasz1974;Watzlawick1964), where roles,
identities, the self,social dynamics, and power relationships are present. They re-enact
larger social dynamics all the meanwhile creating new experiences and ways of interacting.
Our interactions are thus means of reproducing culture (enculturation) and ways of modify-
ing it. The interactionist perspective has multiple components that parallel certain Aboriginal
perspectives on knowledge transmission and socialization, including learning through obser-
vation, putting observations in a larger context and seeing reality within interactions
(Arnakak 2002). The application of this perspective will consequently allow for critical
reection around meaning of behavior and the impact of intervenersactions on behaviors
that may be viewed by clinical psychologists as pathological.
This study is based on secondary analyses of data collected over an eight-month period for
internal quality assurance of a residential program developed specically for Aboriginal
Downloaded by [Bibliothèques de l'Université de Montréal] at 12:02 23 November 2015
youth. Both the residential program and the quality assurance study were funded by the
Board of Health and Social Services of the region. Ethics approval to further analyze and
publish the results of this quality assurance was obtained from the health board as well as
the Institutional Review Board of the research hospital to which the primary researcher
was aliated at the time.
The data were left in the possession of the lead researchers for logistical reasons.
However, the data remained under the ownership and control of the health and social
service institution of the communities. All names presented in this article have been
altered to protect the condentiality of youth and workers.
The residence
The residence was developed specically for Aboriginal youth of a specic region and of a
same cultural identity
for whom in-community placement was not available or not
working, most often due to the youthshigh-risk behaviors. The residence had the capacity
to receive a total of eight girls and eight boys at any given time. Youth stayed on average
between three and twelve months before moving on to other services or going back home.
At the time that the study took place, all youth had received at least one diagnosis for their
externalized behaviors, including Attention Decit Disorder (ADD); other labels, such as
impulsive,”“aggressive,and anger management diculties,were often used in clinical
les to describe the youth. Youth in placement had experienced a variety of personal and
family diculties, including alcohol and drug use, neglect, abuse, and exposure to violence
and family suicides. According to clinical les and data from sta, 95% of youth had a
history of suicidal ideations and/or attempts, 8090% of youth had known drug and/or
alcohol use, and 75% of youth had a history of problems with the law.
The residence was managed by a general manager, a boysunit manager and a girls
unit manager. Each unit was assigned a teacher and a group of educators. Intervention
agents (IAs), security personnel, worked on both the girlsand boysunits. They were on
stand-by at all times and only intervened on educatorsrequest when youth presented
challenging behaviors. Otherwise, they generally interacted with youth during free time
and unstructured activities (i.e., smoke break, recreational time, gym).
The residential stawas composed of a coordinator, a unit manager for the girlsunit
and a unit manager for the boysunit, a unit team leader for each unit, an intervention
agentsteam leader, educators and intervention agents on rotation with at least three
educators on the oor for each unit at all times, and three intervention agents who
covered both units at any given time. There was also an administrative secretary who
also acted as cultural consultant, two teachers (one for each unit), a nurse (three days a
week), an art therapist, and a psychologist (one day a week).
The role of the educator included supervising, managing, and intervening with youth,
as well as organizing, coordinating, and animating program activities. Educators applied
psycho-educational techniques in day-to-day experiences with youth to foster rehabilita-
tion among youth with behavioral diculties.
The role of the IA was to provide support to educators in moments where youth did
not comply with an educators request and to help implement interventions, such as
accompanying youth to the transition room, or performing physical restraint. They also
Downloaded by [Bibliothèques de l'Université de Montréal] at 12:02 23 November 2015
were in charge of transportation of youth on and ocampus, room searches, and
accompanying youth from one building to another when needed.
An IA always had to be present with youth. They were dressed as civilians and could
participate in activities and interact with youth at all times.
Materials and methods
Intervention Agent Forms (IAF) were collected and analyzed. These forms were developed
by the residential managers and were completed by intervention agents every time they
had to intervene in a special incident. In the rst section of the form, intervention agents
must check categories that describe the type of assistance, the behavior displayed by youth,
the place of intervention, and actions taken. In the second part of the form, IAs qualita-
tively and subjectively describe the incident. This section could include information on the
challenging behaviors displayed by youth, the context in which the intervention took
place, the intervention used and the outcome. Intervention agent forms were collected for
eight months following the opening of the residence. All forms reporting routine activities
such as transportation and room searches were not included for analyses.
An ethnographic approach was also used for this study. This involved many hours of
participation in regular activities on residence oors with youth and sta.Themain
researcher and two research assistants took part in routine activities with the youth (i.e.,
sewing, girl-talk group, activity center, and smoking breaks) as well as team meetings.
Detailed records of observations, decisions and reections regarding youthsexperience
of placement, clinical practices, and organization of care were kept throughout the
evaluation process. The main researcher also took part in various administrative activ-
ities, including weekly program development meetings, and clinical discussions regard-
ing the youth.
In this study we explored relations between Aboriginal youth and non-Aboriginal work-
ers. We rmly believe that culture, race, social, and organizational status are engrained
within all interpersonal interactions. However, the way in which these factors inuence
interpersonal interactions is often times dicult to discern unless made explicit in
language or behaviors. For this reason we chose to conduct two types of descriptive
analyses that would then be followed by an interpretive analysis. In the rst level of
descriptive analyses we do not place emphasis on aboriginality per se, but rather on all
observableaspects of interactions that take place between at risk youth and sta
members who have the mandate of aiding youth in rehabilitation. In the second type of
descriptive analyses we extract only the forms where there is written mention of personal
or interpersonal aspects explicitly related to the fact that youth are Aboriginal in an out-
of-community placement.
First level of descriptive analysis
Three research assistants and a researcher took part in every step of the analysis. The
researchers involved in the observation and analysis are non-Aboriginal Caucasian
Canadians. The primary author is a psychologist with clinical experience in a youth
Downloaded by [Bibliothèques de l'Université de Montréal] at 12:02 23 November 2015
protection program within Aboriginal communities. She has been working in the eld of
Aboriginal health and wellbeing for approximately seven years. The three research assis-
tants were unfamiliar with the reality of Aboriginal peoples and communities of Canada at
the time they started participating in the internal quality assurance and secondary data
analysis. Two were students in psychology and one in psychoeducation with extensive
experience in residential settings.
During the rst phase of data analysis, the researcher and research assistants immersed
themselves in the research environment and data. This inadvertently led to the develop-
ment of empathy and aect around the participants and specic issues. In this case, the
researcher and two research assistants participated in ethnographic eldwork, viewing
interactions between staand youth on a day-to-day basis over an eight-month period.
These experiences, accompanied by the experiences of immersing themselves in 100
intervention agent forms, each lent to a certain aectivity and the emergence of a set of
questions including: Are certain intervention methods necessary? Do these methods elicit
reactions among youth? Why would stamembers require certain methods? When do
youth accept consequences? How do youth feel about the consequences? Are only certain
youth displaying aggressive behaviors? Why do youth display aggression on certain
occasions and not on others? What does the aggression represent?
In a second phase, the researcher and two research assistants coded behavioral
sequences of micro-interactions between staand youth as described on 100 intervention
agent forms. From this coding process, three main patterns of macro-interactions
emerged. The patterns were largely characterized by youth behaviors: resistance, accep-
tance/resistance, and submissiveness. The three coders met and discussed these patterns
that brought upon a new set of questions such as: What, in the nature of the interactions,
brings on resistance or submissiveness? What stabehaviors may be inuencing youth
resistance or submissiveness? And what youth behaviors may be inuencing these sta
In a third step, communication theories were used to conceptualize what was being
observed in the data. Communication theories highlight the reciprocal nature of behaviors
and speech (Ericson & Rogers 1973). For this particular study, communication theories
grown from the initial proposals of Bateson (1972) and Watzlawick et al. (1967) were
used. Watzlawick et al. suggest that interactional patterns can be placed on a symmetrical-
complementary continuum. Symmetrical interactions dene the situations where two
individuals attempt to gain control over the other. Complementary interactions are
those where one individual shows controlling behaviors or communication patterns
while the other submits him/herself to this control. At its extreme, one individual will
exhibit no self-initiated behaviors and only subordinate him/herself to the others
demands. Both micro-interactions and general pattern of interaction can be coded within
this complementary-symmetrical continuum (Tracey et al. 1981). Authors have proposed
more dynamic coding to describe the shifts in interactions that occur during communica-
tions (Sluzki & Beavin 1965; Ericson & Rogers 1973; Watson 1982). Watson proposes ve
exhaustive and mutually exclusive categories of actions within interactions: dominance,
structuring, equivalence, deference, and submissiveness (see Table 1). Each action/com-
munication is coded as a function of the previous action/communication.
A two-way iterative coding process was used to simultaneously code micro-interactions
within each intervention using Watsonsve categories, and to trace the path of micro-
Downloaded by [Bibliothèques de l'Université de Montréal] at 12:02 23 November 2015
interactions from beginning to end of intervention on the symmetrical-complementary
continuum (Sluzki & Beavin 1965; Bateson 1958), using the one-up, one down and one
across scheme(Bateson 1958) to describe the changes in patterns and the person who
initiated the change in pattern (see Table 2).
Similarities and dierences among types of macro-interactions were explored as a
function of the attributes described above.
Second level of descriptive analysis
All IAFs were re-read by a research assistant and the principal investigator to extract all
forms where there is any mention of personal, interpersonal or situational characteristics
specic to race, culture, and context related to out-of-community placement. Each coder
coded a list of characteristics, which were then agreed upon during a discussion period.
The coders then returned to the IAFs and extracted the nature of the interaction (using
the Watson coding scheme) to explore in which typologies these specic characteristics
were being highlighted within the IAFs.
Table 1. Description and examples of types of interactions.
Description Examples
Dominance: attempt to severely restrict the behavioral
options of others (+ up)
Youth: attempting to run away, being aggressive toward
Sta: transition room, isolation, physical restraint
Structure: attempt to restrict the behavioral options of
others but leaving a variety of options open to the
other. (up)
Youth: not listening to rules, being oppositional, being
Sta: given youth a choice, reminding the rules.
Equivalence: attempt at mutual identication, an
interactional mode that does not seek to control the
ow of interactions. (across)
Youth: talking with staabout what happened.
Sta: processing with youth, discussing what happened.
Deference: willingness to relinquish some behavioral
options to others while retaining some choice of
options (down)
Youth: going to the transition room showing resistance,
speaking his/her frustrations.
Sta: accepting youths request to talk to someone or do a
specic activity when not supposed too. Allowing youth to
show opposition/resistance.
Submissiveness: willingness to relinquish behavioral
options to others while retaining little choice. (+ down)
Youth: going to the transition room without retorquing,
accepting consequences without resistance.
Sta: N/A
Symmetrical competitive = Dominance/Dominance, Structuring/Structuring.
Symmetrical neutral = Equivalence/Equivalence.
Complimentary = Structuring/Deference, Structuring/submissive, Dominance/Deference, Dominance/Submissive.
Table 2. Description and examples of one-up, one-across and one-down patterns of interactions.
Description Example
One-up : attempts to obtain greater power than the other
in his/her previous behavior
Youth disobeys (one-up), stasends youth to the transition
room (one-up), youth becomes aggressive toward sta
one across: attempts to neutralize the other individuals
control remaining in the same category of action as the
previous behavior
Youth disobeys (one-up), stareminds youth of rules (one
across), youth continues to disobey (one across).
one down: moments when the behavior gives greater
power to the other individual by accepting the others
request via supportive responses.
Stasends youth to the transition room (one up), youth
obeys (one down), stastarts processing with youth (one
Downloaded by [Bibliothèques de l'Université de Montréal] at 12:02 23 November 2015
Interpretive analysis
Once all descriptive analyses were completed, we engaged in an interpretative thematic
analysis where we circumscribed these interactions within a context of Aboriginal place-
ment. The members read through personal notes written during the participatory obser-
vation, jotted down reections, and regrouped reections into reoccurring themes. The
primary author had individual reexive discussions with the three research assistants to
explore relations between typologies of interactions and interpretative categories. The
primary author took detailed notes and engaged in a reexive discussion with an
Aboriginal worker with experience in youth protection services. All interpretative com-
ponents of the analysis are exposed in the discussion section of this article.
Types of interactions
Three main patterns of macro-interactions emerged from the intervention agent forms,
complementary, symmetrical/complementary and symmetrical. The complementary/sym-
metrical pattern was further dierentiated into four subtypes of interactions. Before
describing the dierences among categories, we elaborate on their commonalities (see
Figure 1).
Indeed, there were important similarities across interactions. First, the beginning
(section 1) and end of all the interventions (section 3) were surprisingly similar. The
coded interactions generally began with an educator asking a youth to stop a given
behavior or reminding the youth of rules (structuring). Youth generally continued the
behavior or told the educator to leave them alone (structuring one across). It is important
to note that if youth listened to the staat this point of the interaction, it would be
recorded in an intervention agent form. We therefore did not have access to those
interactions. Stawould repeat the request (one across) until they nally requested that
the youth go to the transition room (dominance one up). In this sense, nearly all
interventions began with a symmetrical interaction.
All interventions also ended in a similar fashion (section 3). The youth would accept
the given consequence (complementary one down); this would be followed by a period of
processingbetween an educator and the youth (equivalence). Processing is a time of
discussion around the event that took place. Following the processing period the youth
would be given permission to return to his/her activities within the program.
The nature of interactions between staand youth diered in the process towards
conict resolution (section 2) between the beginning (symmetrical) and the end (com-
plementary or symmetrical neutral) of the intervention.
Complementary: Youth initiated complementary interaction
Complementary interactions were the shortest and simplest interactions to describe. The
youth behaved in a way that was deemed unacceptable or deant, which was coded as
symmetrical one up.A consequence was given (symmetrical one up, structuring), and
the youth accepted this consequence without retorquing or displaying any behaviors of
disapproval (complementary one down). In almost all instances where this pattern was
observed, the consequence that brought about the switch from symmetrical to
Downloaded by [Bibliothèques de l'Université de Montréal] at 12:02 23 November 2015
Figure 1. Process of sta-youth interactions on a symmetrical-complementary continuum
Downloaded by [Bibliothèques de l'Université de Montréal] at 12:02 23 November 2015
complementary was being sent to the transition room. During these interactions little to
no aggression or opposition was described in IAFs. Following the transition room time,
stamembers would engage in complementary one down behaviors of verbally processing
with youth.
The following exert from an IA form gives an example of a short interaction between
the youth and the IA:
Amanda was playing basketball with other youth. One girl called her name. Amanda threw the
ball very aggressively at the other girl. Staasked Amanda to go to the transition room to calm
down, which she did. Stathen went to process the event with her and she was reintegrated into
the program. (modied excerpt from Intervention Agent Form)
Youth initiated behavioral complementary/symmetrical interactions: The most frequent of
the complementary/symmetrical interactions were youth initiated behavioral interactions.
The youth was generally asked to go to the transition room (structuring, symmetrical one
up). He or she complained and resisted with verbal or physical aggression (symmetrical
one up), but accepted the consequences (complementary one down). Forms of resistance
included swearing, throwing an object on the oor, hitting a wall, or throwing a fake
punch at an educator. The staignored the aggressive actions (complementary one down)
all the meanwhile maintaining the initial consequence (structuring, one across). The youth
stayed in the transition room (complementary own down).
The switch from a dual complementary/symmetrical interaction to a clear complemen-
tarity generally took place as the youth spent time in the transition room or after the youth
spoke with an educator (equivalence one-across).
Kurt was swearing and making hand gestures to an educator. The educator asked the inter-
vention agent to escort him to the transition room. Kurt continued swearing and threw his hat
to the oor, but followed the intervention agent to the transition room. When he calmed down
the educator went in to process with him. (modied excerpt from Intervention Agent Form)
Youth initiated verbal complementary/structural interaction: Other forms of dual
complementary/symmetrical interactions also took place. On few occasions the youth
used verbal and reective communication to express their frustration. They listened to
the consequence (complementary one down) all the meanwhile expressing their frustra-
tion or feelings of injustice (structuring one across). On these occasions stamomentarily
responded with a complementary one-down by backing away, but continued with the
initial consequence and the focus on the initial behaviors (structuring one across).
Youth initiated self-controlled complementary/symmetrical interaction: On certain
occasions, youth chose to go to the transition room themselves without being requested
to do so. By requesting to go to the transition room they simultaneously showed
complementary one-down and one-up by submitting themselves to the structure
organized by the unit to control behaviorsand taking control of the situation
Stainitiated verbal complementary/symmetrical interactions: The nal complemen-
tary/symmetric interaction was a micro-interaction that could happen in any of the macro
types of interactions. These micro-interactions were generally short-lived, as will be
discussed below. This dual complementary/structuring interaction was initiated by sta.
Downloaded by [Bibliothèques de l'Université de Montréal] at 12:02 23 November 2015
For example, they might give youth a choice to either go to the transition room by
themselves or to be escorted by a stamember (held by the arms), or tell youth to calm
down or be escorted to the transition room. These interventions were simultaneously a
reminder that they were ultimately in charge (structuring one up) all the meanwhile
oering youth the possibility to make a decision for him or herself (deference one
down). Youth generally responded in a dual symmetrical/complementary fashion by
calming down (deference one down) all the meanwhile retorquing (structuring one up),
or going to the transition room as they demonstrated their frustration.
As mentioned above, in almost all interactions stamembers would only do an
intervention qualied as equivalence (processing) when the youth had already shown a
complementary one-down behavior of accepting the consequences that were given to
him/her. However, in certain occasions we documented moments during interventions
where the intervention agents engaged in equivalenceactions before the youth
showed a complementary one-down behavior. In such instances, the stacould use
forms of positive reinforcement and nonrestrictive communication, including reassur-
ing the youth, validating his/her emotions, asking the youth what he/she is feeling,
giving the youth options, going for a cigarette with the youth, giving the youth space
or going for a walk outside with the youth. One of the stamembers described a
situation that demonstrates the ecacy of connecting with youth and using humor to
There is a boy and he got upset at an educator cause he was talking to a girl and they
exchanged, the girl took his jewelry. And the educator basically said: stop, stop, look at
me, look at me,trying to get his attention in a very assertive way. And it bothered this boy
and this boy said: Fuck o,and walked away. He walked away angry. Now I guess
because we know what can happen when this boys gets angry, the intervention agents
followed him. [. . .] They focused on discipline as opposed to how the boy felt. [. . .] So the
intervention agents went right behind him, while he is sitting on the couch and he [the
youth] is getting red in the face. So they told me to move aside. I kind of get in and said
what can I do to help? I used some of the things him and I had talked about before. [. . .]
But humor works very well with this boy. Even in moments like this where it could appear
inappropriate. So he said: get my fucking earring back.At that point I was wearing
earrings and said: Do you want an earring. Take my earringand he smiled, so I had
him [connected with him]. So I said: Can you do me a favor? I have never asked you. Can
you come with me?And he came, and it took ve minutes for him to calm down. So we
didnt need to use discipline then.
This intervention focused away from the behaviors and focused on the positive relation-
ship between staand youth. These forms of interaction seemed to facilitate cooperation
of youth and the overall process of crisis management. However, these moments were
often short-lived and followed by a symmetrical one-up intervention on behalf of a sta
member, which was then followed by youth displaying symmetrical one-up as well. These
changes in orientation of interventions seemed to be interrupted by other stamembers
not agreeing with this complementary one-down position and encouraging or forcing a
certain re-structuring (symmetrical one up).
An educator saw Beverly running away from the group towards the campus entrance. The
educator called an intervention agent to follow Beverly. The intervention agent followed Beverly
asking her to stop walking. Beverly didnt stop. The intervention agent walked in front of
Beverly and put his hands on her shoulders to stop her from walking. Beverly pushed the IA,
Downloaded by [Bibliothèques de l'Université de Montréal] at 12:02 23 November 2015
told him not to touch her and continued walking. The IA told Beverly that she did not have to
return to the unit right away but asked that she please stop walking for a moment so that they
could talk. Beverly stopped walking and sat down. IA sat nearby and asked her what was
bothering her. She said that everything bothered her, everything hurt. Then another IA arrived
and asked the youth to go back to the unit. The youth did not respond. The IA pulled the youth
to stand up. The youth yelled at the IA saying: stop touching me and walked herself to the unit.
Once at the unit she displays aggressive behaviors and is brought to the transition room.
(modied excerpt of Intervention Agent Form)
Jody was slightly apart from the group. She seemed sad. She asked the educator for computer
time. The educator denied her request saying that she had to stay with the group. Jody stood up
and walked away from the group, towards the unit. The Intervention agent followed. Jody asked
to have space. The intervention agent explained that he had to follow but that he could stay
behind and let her walk. She walked a bit and then calmly joined the group again. (modied
excerpt of Intervention Agent Form)
Symmetrical pattern
A third general pattern of interactions was characterized by greater symmetry that quickly
became a power struggle between youth and intervention agents. The interaction was
predominantly symmetrical, and with time this led to competitiveness and hence an
escalation in aggressive actions. The youth was generally asked to go to the transition
room, a request that he/she refused to follow. The IA could then physically escort the
youth to the transition room. This physical contact increased the youths negative emo-
tions, which were expressed via greater aggression. The IA responds to the aggression with
physical restraint. The youth could struggle aggressively during the restraint and the
restraint may have to be repeated. The youth then submitted him/herself and was placed
in the transition room or isolation room until he/she has regained his/her calm. Once
again, time and space triggered the switch between the symmetrical and complementary
interactions on behalf of the youth. Once the youth had demonstrated a complementary
behavior the stawould also engage in complementary one-down behavior via the
processing technique. The youth was then given permission to reintegrate into the
group (Equivalence).
These patterns of interaction often started with mild tensions that then ruptured into
aggression. For example, youth could be requested on multiple occasions to do or stop
doing something (structuring), youth did not listen (structuring), a stamember could
then grab the youths arm (structuring, one-up), and youth could become aggressive (one-
up). In other instances, the youth made a request such as having access to their cigarettes
(structuring one up), doing a certain activity or talking to a specic individual. When the
request was denied (structuring, one-up) the youth became aggressive (structuring, one-
up) and the aggression was immediately restrained (dominance, one-up).
Escalation of crisis and the observed power struggle most often included forms of
bodily restraint, including physical contact or physically escorting youth to the transition
or isolation room, or physical restraint, a technique applied by the IAs in order to restrain
youthsmovements and limit his/her ability to hurt one-self or others. The use of the
isolation room also often preceded an escalation in crisis, similar to the transition room,
but used when educators or IAs felt youth were losing internal control.
Behaviors displayed by youth during such escalations included swearing, hitting or
kicking a wall, spitting, pushing a stamember, throwing objects or breaking objects. As
Downloaded by [Bibliothèques de l'Université de Montréal] at 12:02 23 November 2015
opposed to the previous pattern of interaction, youth did not show signs of complemen-
tarity and stareacted to the aggression. Youth then maintain aggression until highly
constraining consequences are put into place.
The following modied excerpts illustrate a typical interaction characterized by a power
Following a sewing activity, Sandra requested permission to keep bracelet rope to nish a
bracelet. She was given permission to keep the rope for 30 minutes. Following this lapse of time,
Sandra refused to return the rope. Starequested the intervention agent to be on standby. As
she heard this, Sandra stood up and walked straight towards the educator deantly. The
educator asked the intervention agent to escort her to her room. Sandra went into her room,
lay on her bed and put a sweater over her head. The IA removed the sweater. Sandra then put a
shirt around her neck. The IA then removed the shirt and physically escorted her to the Quiet
room. Sandra was screaming. She tried to push the IA and escape the room. She was physically
restrained and then calmed down. (modied excerpt of Intervention Agent Form)
Jonathan was in his room refusing to go to bed and turn ohis light. He started speaking
aggressively to educators who were asking him to go to bed. The intervention agent removed
him from his bed and brought him to the transition room. Jonathan started yelling, kicking and
hitting the walls. IAs restrained him after which he calmed down. In the transition room he
started picking at the wall until a screw came out. He was removed from the transition room
and brought to the isolation room yelling throughout the transition. After a certain time, he
stopped yelling and an educator went in to process. (modied excerpt of Intervention Agent
These cyclical interactions were sometimes followed by suicidal ideation or attempt or
other forms of psychological decompensation. Of all the suicidal ideations and attempts
reported in IAFs (N = 21), half occurred following an interaction with the IA or a sta
member where the youth was either told what to do, brought to the transition room or
physically restrained.
Similarly, psychological decompensation, dened here as a loss of inner control,
regressive, or self-injurious behaviors following a trigger related to past trauma, was
observed in few situations but always occurred following the use of the transition room,
the isolation room, or physical restraint. In many cases, the youth was physically
restrained several times in the same incident. Most of these incidents occurred with two
specic youth, who had been assessed by dierent health and social service professionals
and who had received care from other centers, but for whom a solution to help decrease
crisis situations remained unfound.
Ted started running away from the group. Two intervention agents started running after him
and were able to catch up. Intervention agents restrained Ted and brought him to the transition
room. Ted started to cry and yell. He tried to bite one of the intervention agentshands as he
was being escorted to the transition room. The intervention agent changed his grip in such a
way that Ted was unable to bite. He then started to kick the IAs. When in the transition room
he went into a corner crying and pulling his hair. He urinated on himself and started to vomit.
He nally calmed down and fell asleep. (modied excerpt of Intervention Agent Form)
Aboriginal placement
As mentioned above, the way in which race, culture, context, social or organizational
status inuences interactions is rarely observable unless made explicit by those being
Downloaded by [Bibliothèques de l'Université de Montréal] at 12:02 23 November 2015
observed. The thematic analysis regarding Aboriginal identity, culture, and context related
to Aboriginal out-of-community placement exposed few IAFs where these themes were
discussed. They were divided into ve themes: cultural activities, racial slurs, native
language, being far from home, and armation of belonging. The ve themes had very
distinct places within the sta/youth interactions.
Cultural activities were mentioned at times where youth were told that it was not time
to do a specic cultural activity that they would have requested to do. When described in
IAFs this refusal of request would be a trigger for youth who would then engage in any of
the three large categories of interactions with sta(complementary, complementary/
symmetrical, or symmetrical). It is the reaction of youth, and not the context related to
being refused to do a cultural activity, that legitimizes the nature of the stas actions in
the IAFs. Cultural activities are datathat describes the context but does not seem to
inuence stasdecisions of consequences.
Intervention agents would describe youthsuse of racial slurs toward stamembers in
contexts of symmetrical/complementary interactions. Youth were requested to go to the
transition room, escorted or restrained, youth obeyed all the meanwhile showing aggres-
sive resistance via racial slurs. The slurs seemed to be a proof of disrespect that warranted
a reminder to respect staand rules.
Jenni was being disrespectful towards sta. She was asked to be respectful. She continued yelling.
She was escorted to the transition room where she was asked to take oher jacket and boots.
She started yelling racial slurs, took oher jacked, threw it on the oor, kicked oher boots,
started to bang a wall in the transition room but stayed there and calmed down. (modied
excerpt of Intervention Agent Form)
Intervention agents described youthsuse of native language in the two extreme ends of
symmetrical and complementary interactions. In symmetrical interactions this took place
during the climax of escalation between staand youth. It was described as taking place during
periods of intense aggression and use of coercive methods such as isolation and restraint.
After an unspecied conict between a staand a youth, the youth attempted to bite the sta
member. The staproceeded with physical restraint. The youth continued to be highly aggres-
sive. He was told that if he did not calm down he would have to be hand cued and escorted to
the transition room. He continued to be aggressive. He was then physically restrained and
physically escorted to the transition room during which time the youth was yelling in his native
language. He continued yelling in his language until he nally calmed down. (description of an
Intervention Agent Form)
Use of native language was also noted in few contexts where youth were clearly in a
submissive complementary stance.
We spoke to Jordan about bullying behaviors and the importance of stopping those behaviors.
At rst, Jordan was listening but then he started becoming angry as the conversation continued,
not taking responsibility for his actions and then he started screaming. He was told to stop
screaming but he didnt so he was escorted to the transition room. He didnt resist but then sat
in the corner crying and speaking () (his native language). We spoke with him calmly and
encouraged him to slow his breathing. He nally fell asleep. (modied excerpt of Intervention
Agent Form)
Being far from home was a theme that emerged from the IAFs as being related to youth
behaviors and reactions. This included receiving bad news from home via phone conversations,
Downloaded by [Bibliothèques de l'Université de Montréal] at 12:02 23 November 2015
youth feeling far from home when their friends or family were going through dicult times, or
youth nding out that a family member would not be coming to visit after arrangements had
been made. The way in which this theme inuenced interactions was quite particular in the
sense that it was used to explain a youths behaviors and was often followed by providing youth
personal space, with agents on standby, as opposed to direct interventions.
In only two of the analyzed reports we observed an interesting theme; that of arming
ones rights. In these two instances the armation took place during a symmetrical
interaction, as a form of protest.
John asked us to open the F. . .door. I told him that I wouldnt be able to open it if he didnt
ask the proper manner. He started swearing and saying This is my country.He smashed the
wall twice. I asked for someone to help me. Two other agents came and we stood in front of
John, talked to him until he calmed down. (modied excerpt of Intervention Agent Form)
The objective of this qualitative study was to describe the interactions between interven-
tion agents and youth when managing dicult behaviorswithin a residential setting in
order to critically analyze certain forms of interaction based on these observations, and
reect upon how to improve interventions for youth, more specically for Aboriginal
youth. Three layers of analyses were conducted: a rst descriptive analysis that describes
types of interactions between staand youth; a second descriptive analysis that looks
specically at themes related to culture, race, and context as related to out-of-community
placement; and a third more analytical layer that is developed later in this discussion.
Three main patterns of interactions were observed in the rst layer of analyses. The
stabehaviors were largely dependent on the degree of resistance of youth to the given
consequence, most often being sent to the transition room. In the rst pattern, youth
showed little resistance toward intervention agents. Specically, the intervention agent
would take a role of authority, which the youth would submit to. The second pattern
simultaneously included elements of submission and of resistance by youth, to which sta
members generally responded to by maintaining initial consequences without focusing on
the resistance displayed by youth, even though youth were being aggressive. In the third
pattern, youth resisted IAsrequests. In these cases, youth showed resistance to author-
itative actions. The aggression displayed by youth became the new target of intervention;
this led to an escalation or power strugglethat would end with youth being physically
restrained and placed in transition or isolation rooms. As mentioned by Bateson (1935),
symmetrical interactions, if not controlled, will lead to mutual hostility.
Interpersonal and organizational perspectives
Aggression among youth was common during the sta-youth interactions. Stamembers
were exposed to high levels of aggression and physical violence that placed them and the
youth at risk. From our participatory observation it was clear that the frequency and
intensity of exposure to violence and aggression inuenced stamembersinterventions.
We witnessed repeated discussions around fear of being hurt and the felt need to control
situations. This parallels work by Breeze and Repper (1998) that suggests that these
Downloaded by [Bibliothèques de l'Université de Montréal] at 12:02 23 November 2015
dicult clients can threaten a stas feeling of control over a situation, which can easily
convert into strategies to take control over youth rather than take control over the
situation with youth. Indeed, the fact that in the current study, aggression was generally
ignored when accompanied by submissiveness, and the youth was immediately restrained
when no submission was observed, may suggest that physical restraint and isolation are
not only attempts to control aggression, but also attempts to regain control. A certain
power imbalance where stamembers are advantaged may be less dicultfor them.
In order to change the symmetrical pattern of interaction (power struggles), one of the
two individuals in the interaction must step down.This almost always rests upon the
shoulders of the youth. The degree of escalation depends on how quickly the youth will
submit to consequences. There were occasions where stamembers stepped downrst.
These moments seemed to be well received by youth, who generally followed their lead by
reducing the intensity of their actions and words. However, this position seemed to be less
well received by certain stamembers and could create tension or disapproval from co-
workers. There is most likely an internalized assumption or expectation that stamembers
should always be in controlof situations and that taking a complementary one-down
position in front of a youth, who is attempting to take control, may be viewed as a threat
to that control. This highlights the importance of exploring organizational culture and
policy, as well as stamembersunderstanding and beliefs regarding their role and the
impacts of interventions. Watson (1982) suggests that role expectations constrain beha-
viors and interactions, and in this sense, the organizational culture may inuence how a
stainteracts with a youth. Multiple studies suggest that organizational policy and
environmental context, including number of stamembers on oor, work experience of
sta, and inter-stadynamics, highly inuence the frequency of use of coercive interven-
tions (Earle & Forquer 1995; Joy 1981; Maier et al. 1987). In such residential settings, sta
members often have very few years of work experience and little training, which can be
accompanied by a certain fear or discomfort, which in turn is often dealt with by using
more authoritative and controlling approaches. In this specic context, the residence had
just opened, and therefore staand youth were adapting to a new context where protocols
and procedures were only slowly being put into place. Moreover, stamembers nd
themselves within structures where they are legally responsible of ensuring that youth
remain safe and respect the laws of society. These various characteristics and contexts lead
to dynamics in interpersonal interactions where youth learn that they must obey or receive
Social, cultural and contextual considerations
The asymmetrical interactions between staand youth within contexts of managing
dicult behaviorshighlight a structural power dynamic where stamembers, who
must control behaviors,may be also controlling youth.Consequential approaches
may be viewed by some as essential when dealing with high-risk youth who present with
behavioral diculties and, at times, problems with the law. However, the repetition of this
dynamic where stacontrol and youth obey leads to a phenomenon that could be called
oppressive: a state of asymmetric power relations characterized by domination, subordi-
nation, and resistance, where the dominating persons or groups exercise their power by
the process of restricting access to material resources and imparting in the subordinated
Downloaded by [Bibliothèques de l'Université de Montréal] at 12:02 23 November 2015
persons or groups self-deprecating views about themselves(Prilleltensky 2008). Some
have documented that the punitive disciplinary approach and the highly structured
organization may foster low self-esteem and demoralization and/or forms of active or
passive resistance, anger, fear, guilt, and depression among clients (Fish & Culshaw 2005;
Meehan et al. 2000; Sequeira & Halstead 2002; Tooke & Brown 1992). Sequeria and
Halstead (2002) found that retraumatization was common among psychiatric inpatients
who experienced physical restraint and/or isolation. Fish and Culshaw (2005) describe
how isolation can lead to sensory deprivation and reactivate old traumas. In the residence
under study, as observed in IAF, youth could decompensate and have suicidal behaviors
following restrictive interventions.
Moreover, the fact that stamembers are non-Aboriginal and youth are of Aboriginal
heritage leads to questions concerning the presence of systemic racism. Racism is dened
as being avoidable and unfair actions that further disadvantage the disadvantaged or
further advantage the advantaged (Paradies et al. 2008), whereas systemic racism is
described as requirements, conditions, practices, policies, or processes that maintain
and reproduce avoidable and unfair inequalities across ethnic/racial groups(Paradies
et al.). These structural inequalities can be seen when exploring re-occurring patterns of
interactions; however, when stamembers conduct interventions, they most likely look at
the event and the intervention in isolation. Each specic intervention can be framed as
necessaryin their mandate to control, protect, and rehabilitate youth. Also, stawould
most likely not view their actions as racist or oppressive, especially when conducted to
protect a youth from aggression. There seems to exist a certain tension between what sta
members perceive as helpful for youth in a specic moment in time and what might be
necessary for youth and for a people when observed in a larger context. Stamembers are
requested to act on the spot to immediate concerns and may not have the tools, infra-
structure and time necessary to put these interventions within a larger macro context.
Authors suggest that in contexts of social oppression, especially as experienced by
Aboriginal youth today, resistance may constitute a culturally appropriate form of resi-
lience (Kirmayer 2012; Tousignant & Sioui 2009; Ungar 2007,2008,2010). Some have
described community resistance as a contemporary approach to dealing with new social,
economic, environmental, and political issues (Ryan 1989). Resistance, or liberation, is
essential for personal, interpersonal, and collective wellbeing (Prilleltensky 2003,2008).
Those who attempt to liberate themselves from feelings of oppression fare better with
regard to mental health and wellbeing, as opposed to those who take on a complementary,
submissive stance (Caxaj et al. 2014). Resistance, whether engrained in tradition or a more
recent evolution, is, however, often denigrated, criminalized, or pathologized by the non-
Aboriginal observer (Berger & Epp 2006; Berlin 1987; Ryan 1989,1998). Adopting the
resilience perspective, even the most aggressive acts may be telling of a larger social
dynamic in which the youth is unable to thrive. Youth showing resilience use the
resources and methods that are available to them in order to communicate their needs:
in this case, physical, and verbal resistance. However, if the same aggressivebehaviors
are analyzed through the lens of more traditional residential cultures, or the medical
models of care, they can be understood as symptoms of psychopathology, behavioral
disorders or attachment disorders.
Results of the study suggest that aggression and resistance per se are not necessarily
restrained or controlled unless the aggression poses threat to the power relations expected
Downloaded by [Bibliothèques de l'Université de Montréal] at 12:02 23 November 2015
by sta(i.e., youth are not displaying signs of submission). This means that youth have a
certain freedom and ability to demonstrate frustrations. Whether these frustrations and
resistances are heardand understood or merely tolerated is less clear. Moreover, it
would seem that the resistance is tolerated only when accompanied by submission, which
questions the ability to create change via these resistances.
In this same line of thought, Arendt (1970) suggests that violence emerges when power
within a group is at stake. One could wonder whether, amidst the personal experiences of
abuse and neglect lived by these youth, experiences that invariably inuence impulse
control and interpersonal skills, aggressive actions are a consequence of larger social
oppression. Lateral violence has become a major issue within many Aboriginal commu-
nities where sexual, physical, and emotional abuse is much too common (Brennan 2011;
Brownridge 2003,2008; Homel et al. 1999; Hylton & Bird 2002). Violence to oneself via
self-harm and suicide ideation and attempts are also much too prevalent (Tatz 2005).
These issues have been related to transgenerational trauma and experiences of structural
oppression (Bombay et al. 2014; Hunter 1991; Hylton & Bird 2002). In this sense, the
accumulation of asymmetrical micro-interactions meant to control individual violence
may participate in the promotion of social violence if experienced by youth as being
Culture and clinical reections
The literature on Aboriginal wellbeing and Aboriginal placements under child welfare
systems clearly discusses the important links among culture, identity, needs of youth, and
presence of structural inequalities. Interestingly, in only a few IAFs in this study did the
agents explicitly mention culture, race, or any other context related to out-of-community
placement. This may suggest that interactions taking place when managing dicult
behaviorswere decontextualized, at least at the moment of retelling the story. Indeed,
considering that the forms were written by stafollowing the events they are only traces of
their recollection of interactions. The moments where culture, race and context were
described can tell us about when staperceived these elements as being important. For
example, youth may have spoken their language at many instances, but stawould not
necessarily have written it in the form unless it was perceived as playing a role in the
interaction. Four of the ve themes extracted from IAFs were descriptors of a situation
where focus was placed by staon youthsbehaviors. Using racial slurs or using ones
language seemed to be viewed as a form of resistance, distancing or lack of respect in a
symmetrical interaction. Interestingly, in these situations, the conictlay between the
staand the youth; cultural information was viewed more as a description or as a dicult
component of the interaction rather than a form of communication or a need on behalf of
youth. For example, the use of racial slurs was described as a lack of respect. However, we
wonder whether the use of racial slurs may be telling of larger social and psychological
dynamics related to self-esteem, group esteem, and feelings of social oppression as related
to being Aboriginal. Are youth communicating feelings of social oppression, a feeling that
would have to be recognized and discussed?
On the other hand, when youth reacted to an external trigger related to being away
from home, staseemed to give a certain space to youth all the meanwhile staying in
Downloaded by [Bibliothèques de l'Université de Montréal] at 12:02 23 November 2015
backup in case of a dangerous situation. In these scenarios, the source of tension was
between youth and external factors.
Cultural and contextual information can therefore be interpreted as clinical material
that inuences stasdecisions with regard to the nature of their interventions, mostly in a
context where the conict is not between staand youth, but between youth and external
factors. Is it possible that when the tension is between staand youth, culture becomes an
extra tension rather than a source of clinical reection?
The study looked specically at interactions between intervention agents and Aboriginal
youth when managing dicult behaviorswithin a residential setting. As specied earlier,
the IAs are called to manage situations that are particularly dicult or situations that
educators feel may be dangerous or dicult to control. Therefore, the study does not
provide an overall picture of the broader interventions that take place throughout the day
by educators, teachers and managers.
Moreover, intervention agent forms were analyzed over the rst eight months of the
residential program. At the time of the assessment, IAs, educators, and all other sta
members were slowly adapting to the needs of youth, their behaviors and reactions.
Changes in protocol have in fact been made since the assessment took place.
Interviews were not conducted with IAs or the youth themselves, which limits our
understanding of interventions and perceptions of youth behaviors. It is also important to
note that youth generally felt attached to IAs despite their mandate to manage high-risk
incidents with them.
Implications and recommendations
This qualitative study allows for a dierent conceptualization of youth behaviors, one
that places interaction, communication, and power relations at the forefront, and
circumscribes these interactions within a socio-historical context. The analyses were
conducted with the objective of improving interventions. In this study, using one-
downinterventions such as humor and focusing on the relationship can help control
both the situation and reduce power imbalances. Many reports have evaluated and
promoted less controlling interventions in order to limit the use constraining methods
(Harris & Morrison 1995;Holsteadetal.2010;Mohretal.1998,2003;Stirling&
McHugh 1997). Promising practices include encouraging self-regulation (Delaney 2009),
ensuring consistency in rule setting and structure, developing mechanisms of monitor-
ing and assessing practices via review committees, developing practices that encourage
negotiations, and youth choice (Anglin 2004;Chamberlain2003; Delaney 2009;Harris
&Morrison1995; Henggeler & Schoenwald 2011). Lochman et al. (2010) also suggest
creating a general atmosphere of shared decision making with youth, providing spaces
for open discussions about anger and frustrations with youth. This may be particularly
important in relation to Aboriginal placement: allowing spaces of resistance to enhance
individual and collective wellbeing.
Some may say that out-of-community placements for Aboriginal youth are culturally
insensitive and that any improvement of interventions will be far from sucient to ensure
Downloaded by [Bibliothèques de l'Université de Montréal] at 12:02 23 November 2015
the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal peoples. There are contexts where no other solution
than out-of-community placement has been found for a variety of reasons. When such is
the case, stainteract with youth in highly complex and fragile contexts. Interventions,
when viewed in isolation, may not be perceived as oppressive. However, in a context
where these dynamics are repeated and internalized, they create systemic racism and
hence repeat social injustices experienced by Aboriginal peoples. It is necessary to have
Aboriginal staand culture brokers within the residences to interpret, negotiate and
reect upon the various behaviors and interactions. However, for culture brokers to be
truly integrated within care, to be heard and valued, stamust be exible in their
conceptualization of rehabilitation,”“normal behaviors,and their own mandate as
intervenors. This requires constant reexive discussions with supervisors and youth to
explore the stas ability to regulate their own emotions to adapt to the needs of youth
despite the highly stressful and emotional interactions. The literature clearly highlights the
necessity of creating changes at the policy and organizational level in order to observe
changes in the types of interventions used by staand in their ability to critically reect
upon their actions and reactions (Betemps et al. 1993; Emerson et al. 2000; Fisher 2003;
Holstead et al. 2010; Pollard et al. 2007). Having said this, it is important to recognize that
among the more dicult and oppressive interactions both youth and stademonstrate the
ability for positive and egalitarian exchanges, which highlights their ability to adapt.
Interactionists hold as a premise that despite the strong environmental and social pres-
sures on the nature of micro-interactions, human beings have agency and hence the ability
to create changes in the nature of interactions.
1. The cultural identity of youth and the location of provenance will not be disclosed in order to
ensure anonymity of the residence, staand youth. We are well aware of the important cultural,
historical, geographical, and economic specicities of Aboriginal communities throughout
Canada and by no means do we wish to create a monolithic view of Aboriginal peoples of
We would like to acknowledge the Board of Health and Social Services of the region for their
support and funding of secondary analysis of data collected in residence for evaluative purposes. We
would also like to thank the directors, sta, and youth of the residence for allowing the evaluation to
take place and for participating in an ongoing reection on the evaluation. We recognize and
acknowledge that the directors and stawere constantly exploring ways of being as present and
caring for the youth as possible within this very complex context. We would also like to thank
Maria J. Arauz and Pamela Burmester for all their hard work.
Notes on contributors
Sarah Fraser is a clinical psychologist for children and adolescents having experienced abuse and
neglect. She is an assistant professor at the school of Psychoeducation at Université de Montréal and
researcher at the Institut de Santé Publique de lUniversité de Montréal where she does action
research in the eld of Aboriginal health and wellbeing, culture and intervention.
Mélanie Vachon is a clinical psychologist and a professor of Psychology at Université du Quebec à
Downloaded by [Bibliothèques de l'Université de Montréal] at 12:02 23 November 2015
Montreal. She specializes in the eld of qualitative methods with a particular interest in trauma,
grieving, and sense-making.
Ghayda Hassan is a clinical psychologist and a professor of Psychology at Université du Quebec à
Montreal. Her research and clinical activities focus on contexts of social and family violence with a
particular focus on culture, wellbeing and mental health.
Valérie Parent is a master student in the eld of Psychoeducation at Université de Montréal. In her
studies she adopts an interactionist perspective to explore relationships between youth and stain
residential placements.
ABT Associates Inc. 2008, Characteristics of residential treatment for children and youth with
serious emotional disturbances, National Association for Childrens Behavioral Health and
National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems, Washington, DC, viewed 29 October
Anglin, JP 2004, Creating well-functioningresidential care and dening its place in a system of
care, Child and Youth Care Forum, pp. 17592.
Arendt, H 1970, On violence, Houghton Miin Harcourt, Orlando, FL.
Arnakak, J 2002, Incorporation of Inuit Qaujimanituqangit, or Inuit traditional knowledge into the
Government of Nunavut,The Journal of Aboriginal Economic Development, vol. 3, no. 1, pp.
Baker, A, Kurland, D, Curtis, P, Alexander, G & Papa-Lentini, C 2006, Mental health and
behavioral problems of youth in the child welfare system: residential treatment centers com-
pared to therapeutic foster care in the Odyssey Project population,Child Welfare, vol. 86, no. 3,
pp. 97123.
Bala, N 1991, An introduction to child protection problems, in N Bala, JP Hornick & R Vogl (eds.),
Child welfare law, Thompson Educational Publishing, Toronto, pp. 114.
Barnes, R, Josefowitz, N & Cole, E 2006, Residential schools impact on Aboriginal students
academic and cognitive development,Canadian Journal of School Psychology, vol. 21, vol.
12, pp. 1832.
Bateson, G 1935, Culture contact and schismogenesis,Man, pp. 17883.
Bateson, G 1972, Steps to an ecology of mind: collected essays in anthropology, psychiatry, evolution,
and epistemology, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Bateson, GN 1958, Naven, Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA.
Bennett, M, Blackstock, C & De La Ronde, R 2005, A literature review and annotated bibliography
on aspects of Aboriginal child welfare in Canada, 2nd edn, First Nations Child and Family
Caring Society, Ottawa.
Berger, P & Epp, JR 2006, Practices against culture that workin Nunavut schools: problematizing
two common practices,McGill Journal of Education/Revue des sciences de léducation de McGill,
vol. 41, no. 1, pp. 927.
Berlin, IN 1987, Eects of changing Native American cultures on child development,Journal of
Community Psychology, vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 299306.
Betemps, EJ, Somoza, E & Buncher, CR 1993, Hospital characteristics, diagnoses, and stareasons
associated with use of seclusion and restraint,Psychiatric Services, vol. 44, no. 4, pp. 36771.
Blackstock, C & Trocme, N 2005, Community-based child welfare for Aboriginal children: sup-
porting resilience through structural change,Social Policy Journal of New Zealand, vol. 24, pp.
Blackstock, C, Trocme, N & Bennett, M 2004, Child maltreatment investigations among Aboriginal
and non-Aboriginal families in Canada,Violence Against Women, vol. 10, no. 8, pp. 90116.
Blumer, H 1986, Symbolic interactionism: perspective and method, University of California Press,
Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA.
Boesch, EE 1991, Symbolic action theory and cultural psychology, Springer-Verlag Publishing, Berlin.
Downloaded by [Bibliothèques de l'Université de Montréal] at 12:02 23 November 2015
Bombay, A, Matheson, K & Anisman, H 2011, The impact of stressors on second generation Indian
residential school survivors,Transcultural Psychiatry, vol. 48, no. 4, pp. 36791.
Bombay, A, Matheson, K & Anisman, H 2014, The intergenerational eects of Indian residential
schools: implications for the concept of historical trauma,Transcultural Psychiatry, vol. 51, no.
3, pp. 32038.
Breeze, JA & Repper, J 1998, Struggling for control: the care experiences of dicultpatients in
mental health services,Journal of Advanced Nursing, vol. 28, no. 6, pp. 130111.
Brennan, S 2011, Violent victimization of Aboriginal women in the Canadian provinces, 2009,
Juristat, viewed 15 March 2014,
Brownridge, DA 2003, Male partner violence against Aboriginal women in Canada: an empirical
analysis,Journal of Interpersonal Violence, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 6583.
Brownridge, DA 2008, Understanding the elevated risk of partner violence against Aboriginal
women: a comparison of two nationally representative surveys of Canada,Journal of Family
Violence, vol. 23, no. 5, pp. 35367.
Caxaj, CS, Berman, H, Ray, SL, Restoule, J-P & Varcoe, C 2014, Strengths amidst vulnerabilities:
the paradox of resistance in a mining-aected community in Guatemala,Issues in Mental
Health Nursing, vol. 35, vol. 11, pp. 82434.
Chamberlain, P 2003, Treating chronic juvenile oenders: advances made through the Oregon
multidimensional treatment foster care model, American Psychological Association,
Washington, DC.
Cohler, BJ & Zimmerman, DP 2001, Youth in residential care: from war nursery to therapeutic
milieu,Residential Treatment for Children & Youth, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 125.
Delaney, KR 2009, Reducing reactive aggression by lowering coping demands and boosting
regulation: ve key stabehaviors,Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, vol.
22, no. 4, pp. 21119.
Denzin, NK 2002, The interpretive process, in AM Huberman & MB Miles (eds.), The Qualitative
Researchers Companion, Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA, pp. 34966.
Earle, KA & Forquer, SL 1995, Use of seclusion with children and adolescents in public psychiatric
hospitals,American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, vol. 65, no. 2, pp. 23844.
Elias, B, Mignone, J, Hall, M, Hong, SP, Hart, L & Sareen, J 2012, Trauma and suicide behaviour
histories among a Canadian indigenous population: an empirical exploration of the potential
role of Canadas residential school system,Social Science & Medicine, vol. 74, no. 10, pp. 1560
Emerson, E, Robertson, J, Gregory, N, Hatton, C, Kessissoglou, S, Hallam, A & Hillery, J 2000,
Treatment and management of challenging behaviours in residential settings,Journal of
Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 197215.
Ericson, PM & Rogers, L 1973, New procedures for analyzing relational communication,Family
Process, vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 24567.
Fish, R & Culshaw, E 2005, The last resort? Staand client perspectives on physical intervention,
Journal of Intellectual Disabilities, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 93107.
Fisher, WA 2003, Elements of successful restraint and seclusion reduction programs and their
application in a large, urban, state psychiatric hospital,Journal of Psychiatric Practice, vol. 9, no.
1, pp. 715.
Forte, JA 2004, Symbolic interactionism and social work: a forgotten legacy, part 1,Families in
Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, vol. 85, no. 3, pp. 391400.
Galley, V 2010, Summary of the review of Aboriginal over-representation in the child welfare
system,Prepared for the Child Welfare Review Panel, Regina, SK [Online], viewed 14 May 2014,
Giddens, A 1984, The constitution of society: outline of the theory of structuration, Polity Press,
Grogan-Kaylor, A, Ruolo, MC, Ortega, RM & Clarke, J 2008, Behaviors of youth involved in the
child welfare system,Child Abuse & Neglect, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 3549.
Downloaded by [Bibliothèques de l'Université de Montréal] at 12:02 23 November 2015
Harris, D & Morrison, EF 1995, Managing violence without coercion,Archives of Psychiatric
Nursing, vol. 9, no., 4, pp. 20310.
Henggeler, SW & Schoenwald, SK 2011, Evidence-based interventions for juvenile oenders and
juvenile justice policies that support them, Social Policy Report, vol. 25, no. 1, Society for
Research in Child Development.
Holstead, J, Lamond, D, Dalton, J, Horne, A & Crick, R 2010, Restraint reduction in childrens
residential facilities: implementation at Damar Services,Residential Treatment for Children &
Youth, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 113.
Homel, R, Lincoln, R & Herd, B 1999, Risk and resilience: crime and violence prevention in
Aboriginal communities,Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology, vol. 32, no. 2, pp.
Hunter, M 1991, The intercultural and socio-historical context of aboriginal personal violence in
remote Australia,Australian Psychologist, vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 8998.
Hylton, JH & Bird, M 2002, Aboriginal sexual oending in Canada, Aboriginal Healing Foundation,
viewed 3 February 2014,
Imber-Black, E 1992, Families and larger systems: a family therapists guide through the labyrinth,
Guilford Press, New York.
Joy, DS 1981, The maintenance of order on an adolescent inpatient unit: an analysis of work on the
evening shift,Psychiatry, vol. 44, no. 3, pp. 25362.
Kirmayer, LJ 2012, Changing patterns in suicide among young people,Canadian Medical
Association Journal, vol. 184, no. 9, pp. 101516.
Kirmayer, LJ, Simpson, C & Cargo, M 2003, Healing traditions: culture, community and mental
health promotion with Canadian Aboriginal peoples,Australasian Psychiatry, vol. 11,
Supplement, pp. S1523.
Lafrance, J & Bastien, B 2007, Here be dragons! Reconciling indigenous and Western knowledge to
improve Aboriginal child welfare,First Peoples Child & Family Review, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 105
Lauer, RH & Handel, WH 1983, Social psychology: the theory and application of symbolic
interactionism, 2nd edn, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Clis, NJ.
Lavergne, C, Dufour, S, Trocme, N & Larrivee, M-C 2008, Visible minority, Aboriginal, and
Caucasian children investigated by Canadian protective services,Child Welfare, vol. 87, no. 2,
pp. 5976.
Le Breton, D 2004, Linteractionnisme symbolique, Presses Univeristaires de France, Paris.
Lochman, JE, Barry, T, Powell, N & Young, L 2010, Anger and aggression,inPractitioners guide to
empirically based measures of social skills, Springer, New York, pp. 155166.
Lonner, WJ & Textor, RB 1991, Introductory commentary, in E Boesch (ed.), Symbolic action
theory and cultural psychology, Springer, New York.
Maier, GJ, Stava, LJ, Morrow, BR, Van Rrbroek, GJ & Bauman, KG 1987, A model for under-
standing and managing cycles of aggression among psychiatric inpatients,Psychiatric Services,
vol. 38, no. 5, pp. 52024.
Malinowsky-Rummel, R & Hansen, DJ 1993, Long-term consequences of childhood physical
abuse,Psychological Bulletin, vol. 114, no. 1, pp. 6879.
Martel, J & Brassard, R 2008, Painting the prison red: constructing and experiencing Aboriginal
identities in prison,British Journal of Social Work, vol. 38, pp. 34061.
Meehan, T, Vermeer, C & Windsor, C 2000, Patientsperceptions of seclusion: a qualitative
investigation,Journal of Advanced Nursing, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 37077.
Mohr, WK, Mahon, MM & None, MJ 1998, A restraint on restraints: the need to reconsider the
use of restrictive interventions,Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 95106.
Mohr, WK, Petti, TA & Mohr, BD 2003, Adverse eects associated with physical restraint,
Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 48, no. 5, pp. 33037.
National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health 2009, Child welfare services in Canada:
Aboriginal & mainstream, viewed 25 January 2014,
Downloaded by [Bibliothèques de l'Université de Montréal] at 12:02 23 November 2015
Oce of the Auditor General 2011, Programs for rst nations on reserves,June status report of the
auditor general of Canada [Online], viewed 15 November 2013,
Paradies, Y, Harris, R & Anderson, I 2008, The impact of racism on Indigenous health in Australia
and Aotearoa: towards a research agenda, Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health,
Pollard, R, Yanasak, EV, Rogers, SA & Tapp, A 2007, Organizational and unit factors contributing
to reduction in the use of seclusion and restraint procedures on an acute psychiatric inpatient
unit,Psychiatric Quarterly, vol. 78, no. 1, pp. 7381.
Prilleltensky, I 2003, Understanding, resisting, and overcoming oppression: toward psychopolitical
validity,American Journal of Community Psychology, vol. 31, no. 12, pp. 195201.
Prilleltensky, I 2008, The role of power in wellness, oppression, and liberation: the promise of
psychopolitical validity,Journal of Community Psychology, vol. 36, no. 2, pp. 11636.
Rivard, JC, McCorkle, D, Duncan, ME, Pasquale, LE, Bloom, SL & Abramovitz, R 2004,
Implementing a trauma recovery framework for youths in residential treatment,Child and
Adolescent Social Work Journal, vol. 21, no. 5, pp. 52950.
Rose, AM 2013, Human behavior and social processes: an interactionist approach, Routledge, Boston.
Ryan, J 1989, Disciplining the Innut: normalization, characterization, and schooling,Curriculum
Inquiry, vol. 19, pp. 379403.
Ryan, J 1998, Towards a new age in Innu education: Innu resistance and community activism,
Language Culture and Curriculum, vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 33953.
Sequeira, H & Halstead, S 2002, Restraint and seclusion: service user views,Journal of Adult
Protection, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 1524.
Sluzki, CE & Beavin, J 1965, Simetría y complementaridad: Una denición operacional y una
tipología de parejas,Acta Psiquiátrica y Psicológica de América Latina,vol. 11, pp. 321330.
Small, R, Kennedy, K & Bender, B 1991, Critical issues for practice in residential treatment: the
view from within,American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, vol. 61, no. 3, pp. 32738.
Stevenson, ME 2014, Life beside itself: imagining care in the Canadian Arctic, University of
California Press, Oakland.
Stirling, C & McHugh, A 1997, Natural therapeutic holding: a non-aversive alternative to the use of
control and restraint in the management of violence for people with learning disabilities,
Journal of Advanced Nursing, vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 30411.
Szasz, T 1974, The myth of mental illness: foundations of a theory of personal conduct, rev. edn,
Perennial, New York.
Tatz, C 2005, Aboriginal suicide is dierent: A portrait of life and self-destruction, Aboriginal Studies
Press, Canberra.
Tooke, S & Brown, J 1992, Perceptions of seclusion: comparing patient and stareactions,Journal
of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services, vol. 30, no. 8, pp. 2326.
Tousignant, M & Sioui, N 2009, Resilience and Aboriginal communities in crisis: theory and
interventions,International Journal of Indigenous Health, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 4361.
Tracey, TJ, Heck, EJ & Lightenberg, JW 1981, Role expectations and symmetrical/complementary
therapeutic relationships,Psychotherapy: Theory and Practice, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 33844.
Trocme, N, Knoke, D & Blackstock, C 2004, Pathways to the overrepresentation of Aboriginal
children in Canadas child welfare system,Social Service Review, vol. 78, pp. 577600.
Ungar, M 2007, Contextual and cultural aspects of resilience in child welfare settings, in I Brown, F
Chaze, D Fuchs, J Lafrance, S McKay & ST Prokop (eds.), Putting a human face on child welfare:
voices from the Prairies, Prairie Child Welfare Consortium/Centre of Excellence for Child
Welfare, Regina, pp. 123.
Ungar, M 2008, Putting resilience theory into action: ve principles for intervention,inL
Liebenberg and M Ungar (eds.), Resilience in action, University of Toronto Press, Toronto,
pp. 1736.
Ungar, M 2010, Researching culturally diverse pathways to resilience: challenges and solutions,in
HM McCubbin, K Ontai, L Kehl, L McCubbin, I Strom, H Hart, & J Matsuoka (eds.),
Multiethnicity and multiethnic families,Lea Press, Honolulu, pp. 253276.
Downloaded by [Bibliothèques de l'Université de Montréal] at 12:02 23 November 2015
Watson, KM 1982, An analysis of communication patterns: a method for discriminating leader and
subordinate roles,Academy of Management Journal, vol. 25, vol. 1, pp. 10720.
Watzlawick, P 1964, An anthology of human communication: text and two hour tape, Science and
Behavior Books, Palo Alto, CA.
Watzlawick, P, Bavelas, JB & Jackson, DD 1967, Pragmatics of human communication.A study of
interactional patterns, pathologies, and paradoxes, WW Norton, New York.
Downloaded by [Bibliothèques de l'Université de Montréal] at 12:02 23 November 2015
... Many studies have evaluated these directions of synchrony and reported their different functions in the psychotherapeutic field (Erchul et al. 1999;Fraser et al. 2016;Rogers and Farace 1975) but not yet in the NVS field. Hence, our third research question is, "Are complementary and symmetrical synchrony of the face linked differently with therapeutic alliance?" ...
Full-text available
Nonverbal synchrony (NVS) of a patient’s and therapist’s body parts during a therapy session has been linked with therapeutic alliance. However, the link between NVS of face parts with therapeutic alliance remains unclear. The clarification of this link is important in understanding NVS. Accordingly, we used a video imaging technique to provide quantitative evidence of this link. The 55 participants in this study were the same as in a previous study. Both the participants’ and the therapist’s faces were video recorded during structured psychotherapeutic interviews. Our machine quantified 500,500 participants’ faces and 500,500 therapists’ faces from the perspectives of facial movements and expressions. Results show that absolute synchrony of happy and scared expressions were positively related to therapeutic alliance. However, symmetrical synchrony of left eye movements negatively predicted therapeutic alliance, although participants’ sex, age, volume of facial movements, and volume of facial expressions were controlled. Absolute synchrony of facial expressions was regarded as emotional interaction within 2 s delay, whereas symmetrical synchrony of left eye movements was regarded as a blocker of emotional interaction.
... This resonates strongly with findings below also. Johansson (2010) captures the intrinsic nature of power in child welfare in her paper on child protection in Sweden with ethnic minorities and argues that 'professional workers have several sources of power ranging from coercive to normative' (Johannson, 2010; 537; see alsoFraser et al, 2016; 85). ...
This paper is based on findings from an Irish study of permanence and stability outcomes for children in long-term care which involved biographical narrative interviews with 27 children, young people, parents and foster carers. The study concluded that power and power relations featured significantly in the narratives of our interviewees. To advance guidance for practice, this paper aims to build on the findings of the study reported with an emphasis on the theorisation of power and power relations to inform practice. To do this, we use illustrative quotes from children, young people and their families to demonstrate how power markedly affected their experiences. The findings are considered in the context of an adapted version of Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model with a focus on the interaction between the social work system and individual social workers (exo system) the young person and their wider family (micro-meso system) as perceived by the latter. The wider impact of policy (macro system) and transitions and experiences over time (chrono system) are considered in the context of this interaction. In the discussion, the need for more explicit studies of power and power relations within the context of an ecological model to capture the complexity of layers and interactions of each child’s social system is highlighted. The contribution and limitation of the research is discussed. We end with a commentary about the importance of promoting an increased voice for children and young people in the development and improvement of public child welfare services.
... In other residential settings, such as child welfare services, staff have been identified with often contradictory demands between 'controlling' and 'helping' youth (Fraser et al. 2016). A past student reflected on the perceived absence of [ … ] freedom now, they [youth workers] think they just got to apply their rules, you know? ...
Boarding schools have been increasingly championed in strategies to move closer to educational equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. However, there is a significant lack of research and evidence on the implications of the boarding environment for Aboriginal students, families and communities. This paper presents a study of an Aboriginal residential program in South Australia. Semi-structured and narrative interviews with 55 participants (including residence staff, family, and past students) reveal the centrality of rules and relationships within this setting. Consideration of these themes from a Critical Race Theory perspective provides a sociocultural basis to analyse the implications of race, racism and power. In doing so, the underlying implications of the boarding model that should be acknowledged, explored and applied in this setting are identified. Implications for policy and practice are discussed.
Full-text available
Few addiction treatment options are available in Arctic Canada, leading many Inuit to seek treatment programs in southern cities. We conducted a case study to understand what contributes to a culturally safe experience for Inuit in a mainstream addiction rehabilitation centre in Southern Canada. We carried out more than 700 hours of participant observation, in addition to semi-structured interviews and member-checking activities with 20 Inuit residents, 18 staff and four managers. Data were analysed using an inductive interpretative process. Throughout their journey in the program, Inuit navigated through contrasting situations and feelings that we grouped under six broad themes: having Inuit peers, having limitations imposed on one’s ways of being and doing, facing ignorance and misperceptions, having conversations and dialogue, facing language barriers and being in a supportive and caring environment. This study highlights how cultural safety varies according to people, context and time, and relates to developing trustful relationships.
Full-text available
The health and wellbeing of Inuit youth and families has been a priority for a long time and much work has been done to assess the situation and make recommendations. It is a perfect time to integrate the efforts and resources to have a common vision that can be shared with all Inuit and non-Inuit working for families of Nunavik. Moreover, with section 37.5 of the youth protection Act, it is possible to strive for Inuit ownership of the services for youth and families to ensure culturally and contextually appropriate support. This transformation requires thinking outside of the box and thinking realistically of the challenges to putting the vision in action. The report is meant to support this process.
Full-text available
This article explores the historical, theoretical, and ideological background surrounding biased immigration patterns of immigrants to Canada. It discusses past eras of racial classification and categorization to uncover the practices used to exclude certain groups from white Canadian populations. These discriminatory policies continue to disadvantage these racialized immigrant populations to this very day.Finally, the study recommends that Canada needs a better understanding from the migrants’ perspectives on what they perceive as barriers, problems, or opportunities in order to develop an inclusive plans for migrant integration and equitable access to economic opportunity with a prospect of effective resettlement in Canada.
Full-text available
Objectives: The objective of this study is to explore representations and experiences with health and social services in an Inuit community of Nunavik. Methods: A total of 15 semi-structured interviews were conducted with Inuit adults from the community. The principal investigator also conducted informal interviews and participatory observation within the community on 6 visits over 2 years. A thematic inductive analysis of data was conducted and results were shared with local research partners for validation. Results: Experiences with care were related to the nature of the interaction with service providers, and feeling that needs were being met. Often these needs were socio-economic in nature. Perceptions were described as social constructions. They were based on concepts of trust, privacy and fear of consequences, three intrinsically related themes. The fear of child welfare services or police getting involved seems to influence access to services and the type of information provided to service providers. Misfits between community needs and available services can be related to structural barriers inherent to the nature of services as well as to communication barriers influenced by culture, trust and structural realities of services. Conclusion: In order for services to meet the needs of Inuit, there must be community spaces for informal interactions with service providers. Reflections must be made on how to address the socio-economic needs of patients and how to go beyond the immediate requests to hear the psychosocial needs that patients might not feel safe to talk about.
My first objective in this paper is to synthesize, synoptically, the literature on oppression and liberation with the contributions to this special issue. To fulfil this aim I introduce a framework for understanding, resisting, and overcoming oppression. The framework consists of psychopolitical well‐being; experiences, consequences, and sources of oppression; and actions toward liberation. Each of these components is subdivided into 3 domains of oppression and well‐being: collective, relational, and personal. Experiences of suffering as well as resistance and agency are part of the framework. My second objective is to offer ways of closing the gap between research and action on oppression and liberation. To do so I suggest 2 types of psychopolitical validity: epistemic and transformative.
Social workers have forgotten their interactionist ancestors. This article is the first installment in a 2-part series designed to remedy this amnesia. Part 1 introduces the tradition of applied symbolic interactionism and reports on the historical and exemplary partnerships between social workers and interactionists. Part 1 also reviews the social work use of symbolic interactionism in the areas of human behavior theory and practice with varied size social systems. Part 2 reviews interactionist contributions to social work in varied fields of practice, to social policy and welfare, to research, and to professional education. An appraisal of the social work use of the interactionist legacy and a summary of resources from within and outside North America for revitalizing the partnership are also provided in Part 2.