Terry Cross, executive director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association, explains his innovative work with the "Relational Worldview" of youth care. For more information, go to NICWA's Relational Worldview introductory page.
Time: 4:12 | Size: 5.77 MB
NCFY: Welcome to Voices from the Field, a podcast series produced by the Family and Youth Services Bureau. An enrolled member of the Seneca nation and an expert on cultural competence, Terry Cross also pioneered the so-called Relational Worldview of Native American youth work in the late 1980s.
He's now the Director of NICWA, the National Indian Child Welfare Association, where his ideas inform nationwide training, outreach and advocacy efforts. We asked Cross about the origins and continuing relevance of the Relational Worldview.
TERRY CROSS: The Relational Worldview model is a composite of many different tribal teachings. And almost every tribe on the continent has some teachings about the circle of life or life as a holistic process or balance. So this model takes those teachings and applies it to understanding human behavior in growth and development.
The Relational Worldview as depicted in a four quadrant circle, mind, body, spirit and context. And the traditional teachings that this is based on is that life is a balance of those four quadrants. And the more that those four quadrants can come into balance, the more we're set to live a healthy life.
This work really came out of my own learning and understanding of what helping is from our own cultural traditions and trying to make our practices and our tribal community be as culturally specific and relevant as possible.
NCFY: Cross explained how this approach to youth work differs from more traditional models.
TERRY CROSS: The Western European models of understanding and hidden behavior and change are very linear in nature. It comes from a tradition of education that reduces things to their smallest parts to understand them. So in other words, you have to understand the linear cause and effect relationship between things online. The relational world view is just the opposite in that it tries to embrace the complexity of our existence and understanding human behavior.
NCFY: We asked Cross how the Relational Worldview can complement the current emphasis on evidence based models of youth work.
TERRY CROSS: The emphasis on evidence based practice tends to push the practice, push our work, towards that linear end of the scale. Because we have to prove the relationship between the intervention and the outcomes. So work with youth I think has gotten more linear than less.
One of the things we're doing with the relational world view is working on how to measure it and how to look at outcomes. So we're looking at the multiple levels of relationships that exist across the circle. So we're really here trying to make sure that youth get holistic services and that you can really have a strength based approach business model that doesn't spend a lot of time asking the question what's wrong. It asks what kind of life d you want to have? And how do we help you get there?
NCFY: To learn more about the Relational Worldview and the National Indian Child Welfare Association, go to www.nicwa.org/relational_worldview
(END OF TRANSCRIPT)