Crofoot Graham


Responding to high rates of suicide for American Indian youth, helping professionals often struggle to connect healing traditions from American Indian cultures to tools from European psychology. The differences between American Indian healing and European therapy can be vast. Finding connections or building bridges between these two perspectives may be more difficult than it appears (Duran & Duran, 1995). One method to bring together these worldviews is to use the Reasons for Living Questionnaire (RFL, Linehan, Goldstein, Nielsen, & Chiles, 1983); the Reasons for Living Inventory for Adolescents (RFL-A, Osman, Downs, Kopper, Barios, Besett, Linehan, Baker, & Osman, 1998), or other psychological assessments developed using the RFL as a foundation.

Reasons for Living (RFL) assessments have emerged as powerful strength based tools for assessing suicide risk (Range & Knott, 1997). RFL and RFL-A factors link to a relational worldview common to most American Indian people. A relational worldview considers a balance between forces often identified as spirit, context, mind, and body (Cross, 1998).

Using RFL or RFL-A in suicide assessments allows practitioners to assess where youth may be out of balance in one or more of the four traditional areas: spirit, context, mind, and body. This may assist specific referrals to culturally appropriate healing. RFL and RFL-A assessments could be augmented to improve their correspondence to the relational worldview.