Dissertation Title:

Standing Elk: Soul of the Ancient Healing Circle


Valerie Marvin

Date, Time & Place:

April 11, 2022 at 3:00 pm


The psychological wounds correlated to childhood sexual assault for the woman survivor are often delineated by unspeakable terror when initiating the journey toward wellness. The process of reintegrating the split-off aspects of the Self to re-establish a cohesively functioning ego may respond to a psychodynamic approach that amplifies salient imagery as representational patterns of behavior. This study aims to identify commonality between the traditional healing practices found in a number of North American Indigenous communities and depth psychology. Utilizing a hermeneutic method of inquiry supported by an Indigenous perspective and an imaginal perspective, the research examines a Sundance ceremony and Sandpainting ritual as possible healing events to produce pathways to metaphoric representations. Immersing into the methodology of both healing rituals, resulted in a comprehensive narrative that chronicles a centuries-long trajectory of egregious government policies that have deeply impacted North America’s diverse Indigenous communities. The results of the study suggest that while both a Sundance ceremony and Sandpainting ritual are likely to produce salient imagery, without a foundation clarifying the context of colonization practices that non-dominant societies have endured for centuries, then an attempt to facilitate a cross-culture dialogue falls short of its expectation to demonstrate cohesion between respective belief structures.

  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Psychology Psychotherapy, T, 2014
  • Chair: Dr. Mark Montijo
  • Reader: Dr. Elizabeth Perluss
  • External Reader: Dr. Joseph Dunn
  • Keywords: North American Indigenous Healing Traditions, Sundance Ceremony, Sandpainting Ritual, Hermeneutics, Indigenous Perspective, Imaginal Perspective, Depth Psychology, Women Survivors, Childhood Sexual Assault