Through an Indigenous Lens

Bill Carter at Como Conservatory

Bill Carter

As a young man, Bill Carter wanted to become a family lawyer. But the more pre-law classes he took, he realized it just wasn’t the right path for him. He still wanted to help people and families, just not through the legal system.

“It was time to reinvent myself,” Carter says about his change of direction. “I had heard about the Addiction Studies program through word of mouth and knew the U had a good reputation. And it doesn’t get much more people-oriented than psychotherapy.”

A Comprehensive View

Carter was drawn to the ADDC program for its in-depth approach to treatment that addresses the biological, social, and psychological factors of addiction. As an American Indian, he recognizes the long tradition of his people living in and seeking harmony with nature. That same perspective can be applied to treating addiction and mental health disorders. 

"A highly diverse group of people learning the concepts of addiction together is the best way to serve diverse clientele.”

Once you consider all the internal and external factors that may be disrupting balance or contributing to addictive behaviors, Carter believes, you can then begin to work toward recovery, or achieving harmony. 

Just as each person’s road to peace is unique, each road to recovery is unique. To underscore this idea that “not one size fits all,” ADDC courses analyze real-life cases to teach proven counseling theories and techniques.

Support for All

Carter is particularly interested in how addiction affects American Indians. He notes that certain factors “across our shared history have broken down Native society and fragmented its healing traditions.”

Historically, he continues, when American Indians moved into urban centers, there were few social safety nets in place, and they had to rely mainly on each other. 

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Carter would like to see everyone with equal access to the mental health resources and services they need. “During my time in the ADDC program,” he says, “I have met lots of students from a wide variety of backgrounds (exactly the sort of surroundings I enjoy). In my way of thinking, a highly diverse group of people learning the concepts of addiction together is the best way to serve diverse clientele.” 

"Chemical-free" himself for years now, Carter hopes to guide his future clients through recovery knowing that “it behooves us to step out of our comfort zone and get to know different life ways.” 

“Being human makes us fallible despite our most determined efforts. I just happen to have had enough caring stakeholders in my life, that I was able to connect enough dots in time to avoid disaster. In the end, I hope to look back and feel good for having made a difference in the lives of people struggling to do life in a good way.”