Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Peterson, Donna J.

Committee Member

Downey, Laura Hall

Committee Member

Elmore-Staton, Lori D.

Committee Member

Hardman, Alisha M.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Access Only


Human Development and Family Science

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


School of Human Sciences


The purpose of this research study was to examine two specific pathways to resilience for Native American Indians (NAIs) that have experienced at least one adverse childhood experience (ACE) and are seeking behavioral health services on the Choctaw Indian reservation: empathy and cultural involvement. The study is an examination of the effects of empathy and cultural involvement on the resilience of NAIs with one or more ACEs. The researcher also investigated the type of ACEs reported among adult NAIs seeking behavioral health services on the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indian (MBCI) Reservation. Lastly, the association between ACEs and resilience was explored. The population for this study consisted of NAIs that identified as being members of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, ages 18 and older completing the intake process for services at a behavioral health facility located on the reservation. Results from this study did not yield significant results regarding the effects of empathy and cultural involvement on resilience, nor was the regression model between ACES and resilience statistically significant. This study did reveal household dysfunction and abuse were the most commonly reported types of ACEs. Implications for practice and future studies were explored in this study. Implications for practice include taking a family-systems approach when providing therapeutic services to promote family system changes. Also, utilizing strengths-based approaches could be helpful in practice when working with this population. For future studies, researching the role of adverse community experiences could provide insight into the role of community-level risk factors within this population. Also, further research examining the role of empathy as it relates to this population is needed. Overall, more research is needed to provide a better understanding of components that can be used to strengthen resilience within this population.