Joanne Dorpat Halverson, PsyD, is a 2011 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, Seattle.

Dissertation Committee

  • Patricia Linn, Ph.D. (Committee Chair)
  • Steen Halling, Ph.D. (Committee Member)
  • Alejandra Suarez, Ph.D. (Committee Member)


worldview, spiritual animism, prejudice, discrimination

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An abundance of culturally derived ideological influences inform our lives. The dominant culture exerts a powerful influence on understandings of reality. For some people, their spiritual way of being in the world deviates from cultural norms. In this qualitative study I sought to understand the lived experience of people who hold an animistic spiritual worldview and yet function well within society. They walk in two worlds. The research design employed both phenomenological and heuristic methods. To understand the socio-cultural-historical context of the study a lengthy background was provided. Six individuals who self-identified as adhering to animistic spirituality living on the West Coast of the USA participated in in-depth semi-structured interviews about their experience of walking in two worlds. The interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed. An individual summary depiction derived from the transcripts was provided to each participant to give each the opportunity to make modifications to the depictions and increase the soundness of the study. Data analysis brought forward essential themes: prejudice; a private relational way of being in the world; and an expanded sense of identity. The general structure was a dynamic between connection and separateness. The researcher’s heuristic journey was included. Complementary to the final written depiction of the phenomenon, the researcher crafted two poems and a painting. Besides disclosing a lived human experience, the aim of the study was to challenge taken-for-granted dominant culture assumptions of animistic worldviews and modernist knowledge systems. Hopefully, by facilitating deepened understanding, prejudice and discrimination towards these and other marginalized peoples will be decreased. Clinically and ethically, it is important for psychologists and other clinicians to assist those they serve to have a voice in the cultural discourse. The field of psychology and perhaps our culture at large is enhanced by honoring a multiplicity of worldviews and a decolonized “hybrid multiculturalism” (Duran, 2006).

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