Holy Family University’s and Beck Institute’s Dr. Patrick McElwaine Brings Institute’s Culturally Responsive Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Substance Use Disorder Workshop to Navajo Indian Reservation

Over his spring break in early March, Holy Family University faculty member Patrick McElwaine, Psy.D., LPC, made the 2,153-mile trek from Philadelphia to Chinle, AZ for an adventure unlike any other he has ever experienced.  Facilitated by the world-renowned Beck Institute where he also serves on the faculty, Dr. McElwaine boarded two flights and then drove four hours to the Navajo Indian Reservation to provide a two-day workshop for therapists, social workers, case managers, psychiatrists and even several medicine men on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for substance use disorders that was culturally responsive for the traditional and mostly reserved Navajo audience. Many of the participants drove hours to attend the training.

CBT is a form of psychotherapy that has been found to be effective in treating a wide range of psychiatric disorders, psychological problems, and medical conditions with psychological components in over 2,000 clinical studies.

“We started each day with a Navajo prayer and worked from 8:30 a.m.4 p.m. both days,” Dr. McElwaine said.  “I shared information on a variety of interventions they can use for substance abuse disorder, what a session should look like.  I also spoke about motivational interviewing to help those who are chronically struggling with treatment. It was an amazing, receptive group.”

Dr. McElwaine’s efforts drew a standing ovation and even tears from one of the participants who was so grateful for the much-needed training.

“It was an amazing experience,” Dr. McElwaine said.  “There is a lot of poverty there, a very high unemployment rate, many homes without running water or electricity, a lot of substance abuse problems and not a lot of treatment options. The biggest problem is lack of resources and lack of access, and having to drive hours and hours to receive services.  I was honored and excited to be invited there.”

About Beck Institute
Beck Institute is a 501(c)3 nonprofit established in 1994 by Dr. Aaron T. Beck and Dr. Judith S. Beck. As the leading source for Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) training and resources, Beck Institute has provided more than 45,000 clinicians from 130 countries with state-of-the-art training in CBT, the most highly researched and widely adopted of the evidence-based psychotherapies. In 2019, Beck Institute opened the Beck Institute Center for Recovery-Oriented Cognitive Therapy (CT-R) to train professionals and staff who work with individuals with serious mental health conditions. In addition to professional training, Beck Institute provides information and resources for the public on CBT and CT-R and operates a small, in-house clinic to treat clients. For more information, visit www.beckinstitute.org.



Jan Giel