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Telling Our Stories Through Data

This article first appeared in “HIR Wellness Institute: Systems thinking to change the way we care for survivors of violence” published by HIR Wellness Institute on August 24, 2023.

At HIR Wellness Institute we believe that our communities are resilient and strong. However, trauma, loss, Persistent Toxic Systems and Environments™, and grief continue to negatively impact our communities. The added burden of historical trauma continues to follow the lives of so many - leaving a chain of pain for generations to come. We believe that healing our communities looks like mental health services that address the unique needs and priorities of those we serve.

In addressing these concerns, we believe in seeking community input through focus groups, community review boards, and Children’s Fire counsels when developing our services, programming, and providing to our community research that supports community-thriving. HIR Wellness Institute is stewarding a new and dynamic movement towards creating a mental health practice that is community-based and honors community value-based healing practices and informs counseling recommendations.

Our vision is to create a culturally responsive and informed mental health practice. In doing so, identifying best practices through culturally responsive Practice Based Generating Evidence approaches to inform our process. By utilizing this form of research, our community is joining this movement. They are supporting the healing process of those walking with us today and for generations to come. It is our honor to walk alongside our Indigenous leaders, scholars, creatives, storytellers, advocates, gatherers, Elders, grandparents, parents, healers, and warriors.

Together we address the root causes of the systemic ills that continue to bring unwellness into our communities.

What is Practice Based Generating Evidence?

This has been described as a range of treatment approaches and supports that are derived from, and supportive of, the positive cultural attributes of the local society and traditions. These services are accepted as effective by the local community (through community consensus) and address the therapeutic and healing needs of individuals and families from a culturally specific framework.

Practitioners of practice-based generating evidence models draw upon cultural knowledge and traditions for treatment and are respectfully responsive to the local definitions of wellness and dysfunction. Practitioners of practice-based evidence models have field-driven and expert knowledge of the cultural context of the community, and they consistently draw upon this knowledge throughout the full range of service provision: engagement, assessment, diagnosis, intervention, and aftercare.

“Lea and her team at HIR Wellness is the epitome of community-engaged research. It is groundbreaking and innovative. The community is a part of every step of the process from the development to the dissemination. HIR Wellness Institute’s approach to research comes from empathy, healing, and understanding - the essence of community engaged work.”

- Courtney Barry, PsyD,

HIR Wellness Institute Board Treasurer; Director of Interprofessional Education (IPE) for the School of Medicine; Assistant Professor; Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine; Department of Family and Community Medicine; Medical College of Wisconsin


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