An ethnographic study of sharing circles as a culturally appropriate practice approach with aboriginal people

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Hart, Michael
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The purpose of the study was twofold: (1) to outline the similarities and differences between particular social work approaches and an Aboriginal approach to helping, and (2) to study sharing circles as a means to address the lack of culturally appropriate methods of practice when working with Aboriginal peoples. In order to achieve the first purpose literature on Aboriginal and social work approaches to helping was reviewed and compared. Specifically, the person centred and life model approaches were compared to an Aboriginal approach that was developed through this literature review. To met the second purpose, an ethnographic research approach was taken. People who had conducted sharing circles were interviewed about sharing circles processes. As well, my personal experiences in sharing circles were reflected upon. The literature review found that while the Aboriginal approach outlined had some similarities to both the person centred and life model approaches, it clearly had its own attributes that made it a distinct from the two other approaches. The research findings described the approach and practice of conducting sharing circles as determined by the key informants and my participation. Discussion on the findings suggested that the Aboriginal approach described in the literature review and research findings on sharing circles are consistent with each other. In light of the discussion, recommendations for future social work research, education, and practice are made, and comments for Aboriginal people to consider are shared. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)