News & Events


November 17, 2017

Healing Seasons Project Now Underway

The Indigenous Wellness Research Institute National Center of Excellence continues its tradition of community-based participatory research with the recent funding of Healing Seasons: Pathways to Our Heart, Mind, Body, and Spirit. Healing Seasons is a research project funded by the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities under grant number R01 MD 011574 and is led by Co-Principal Investigators Drs. Cynthia Pearson and Debra Kaysen. Drs. Michele Bedard-Gilligan and Denise Walker are lead clinical psychologists and provide supervision to trained community counselors and three research field Staff who assist with screenings, consents and recruitment. The Research Coordinator at IWRI is Lucy Smartlowit-Briggs; the Site Coordinator is Robin Pebeahsy.

This project partners with a Pacific Northwest Tribe, with tribal members who serve as the project’s Advisory Board (AB). The AB meets six times per year to provide project oversight, guidance and review of study materials, ensuring cultural protocols are done in a respectful way, assisting with project recruitment, and presenting with project staff to the tribal council when requested.

Photo: Mount Adams Healing Seasons aims to provide alternative therapy approaches that are client-driven and culturally responsive to the tribe by providing six free counseling sessions through evidence-based interventions, Motivational Interviewing Therapy with Skills Training (MIST) and Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET). MIST focuses upon the reduction of substance use through goal setting and skills based talk therapy, whereas, NET focuses on short term treatment addressing trauma throughout a person’s life as a whole while keeping their connection to the “here and now.” Utilizing a holistic approach, the study seeks to provide two interventions to 1) reduce and prevent further substance use development while reducing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and HIV/STI risks; 2) treat PTSD to decrease substance misuse and prevent HIV/STI behaviors while delivering sustainable therapeutic skills that will outlast the life of the grant.

Healing Seasons has already begun recruiting participants, seeking at least 200 American Indian/Alaska Native or descendent, males and females, living within 25 miles of counseling locations, aged 16 years and older, who have experienced a traumatic event and are concerned about substance use or relapse.

For more information about Healing Seasons, please contact Research Coordinator, Lucy Smartlowit-Briggs, at or (509) 899-8513 or visit