Priscilla Dass-Brailsford, Ana Sierra, Kristie Krause — Session III

The effects of political violence among a group of Kaqchikqueles in Guatemala

Priscilla Dass-Brailsford, Ed.D, Ana Sierra, M.A., Kristie Krause, M.A. (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, International Psychology, DC Campus)

Guatemala has experienced high levels of political violence due to civil wars. The purpose of this study was to (a) explore the effects of political violence among a group of Kaqchiqueles – an indigenous group; (b) address the need for mental health interventions among indigenous people; and (c) add to literature in this neglected area of international and indigenous psychology. This was a mixed methods study that included quantitative and qualitative data collection methods. A community leader of the Kaqchiqueles helped identify and screen participants. The sample (N=18) ranged in age from 34-64. Most of the symptoms related to political trauma centered on anxiety/fear and sadness/depression. Many noted family support as strong, and only a handful discussed support from the community. Positive coping included religion and work. Negative coping was use of alcohol, and suicide. These findings provide us with a new lens in assessing and understanding vulnerable indigenous communities.