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Resumé af Freja Elbradt og Johanne Tapia Seguras speciale

Specialetitel: A social treatment offer for young Greenlanders who have been growing up in homes with substance abuse.

The purpose of this project is to create a treatment offer for young Greenlanders who have been growing up in homes with substance abuse. The project researches the circumstances and challenges in the social field in Greenland and why this target group does not receive adequate support. In this project, we aim to create a solution to this, by identifying how an offer for this target group should be designed.

The project is created in collaboration with Allorfik, which is the national knowledge and treatment center for substance abuse and gambling addiction in Greenland.

In this project, we will create the framework for Allorfik’s treatment offer for young Greenlanders who have been growing up in homes with substance abuse . The treatment offer is meant to be both an offer of help and a preventative effort on substance abuse in Greenland.

During our examination, we encountered multiple issues with creating a sustainable change in the local areas in Greenland. During our time in Greenland it was brought to our attention that there is a tendency in the social field of projects being terminated, either because they do not work as intended or due to insignificant resources. Furthermore, there is a general lack of plans of actions and sustainable offers in the social field. Hence, we have built our program with the focus of it being sustainable, with a concrete action plan established in a Program Theory. By including Community Psychology, we are focusing on the entirety of the young Greenlanders’ situation of life, drawing on the resources already available to them.

Our goal is to create a Community Psychology-based Program Theory intervention, to ensure that the offer is meaningful and sustainable and based on the following thesis statement:

How do we create a sustainable and meaningful treatment offer for, and including, young Greenlanders who have been growing up in a home with substance abuse?



The project’s empiric material is created in cooperation with ten young Greenlanders, between the ages 20-27, through a workshop which aim was to create a room where they could reflect on their critique of current social treatment offers, as well as their dreams and wishes for the offer we are looking to create. The workshop was held in Nuuk, thus the participants were current residents of this town, but they were born and raised in different towns and settlements in Greenland. It was a one-day workshop, lasting 4 hours with three different phases; the critique phase, the imaginative phase and the realization phase. The workshop started with the critique phase, where participants could express criticism and negative experiences with growing up in a home with substance abuse, including the lack of support, what works and what doesn’t work with current treatment offers. This led into the imaginative phase, where criticism from earlier was answered with wishes, dreams and alternative visions. In the end, we “returned to reality” with the realization phase, where we would consider the different power structures, laws and regulations. This was also the phase where we looked to connect the wishes with the doable. With this workshop, we were able to get an insight into the young Greenlanders’ reality and achieve an understanding of what they see as critique points and what they wish a treatment offer entailed.


With this project, we aim to create an intervention which is based on Community Psychology Program Theory, to ensure that the treatment offer is sustainable and meaningful for the participants as well as for Allorfik.

Hence, the project is based on two theories: Program Theory and Community psychology. As the project pertains a complex problem with multiple changeable factors and circumstances, we found it relevant to create a Program Theory on the project that would allow us to examine whether the initiated activities work as intended and provide the intended outcome. Furthermore, this approach will aid us in creating a treatment offer where every aspect from problem to result have been examined. Finally, it will result in a concrete and thoroughly prepared plan of action which will make Allorfik’s further work on the treatment offer more tangible.

The other theoretical basis for our work is founded in Community Psychology. This approach is marked by the wish to create meaningful change by including people and their situations of life in the process of change. The Community Psychological approach thus supports our basic understanding of the project to include young Greenlanders in the creation of the treatment offer, to ensure they will find it meaningful. Furthermore, sustainability is a central point in this theoretical approach, and as such a project is viewed as a success if it can survive after the final research work. A combination of the Program Theory and the Community Psychology is thus essential to creating a project with an end result that can survive, and will not, as has often been the case with project and treatment offers on the social area in Greenland, be shut down soon after being initiated because it doesn’t provide the desired outcome. The Program Theory allows us to evaluate and identify what works and doesn’t work and change it accordingly.


The project is based on four sections of analysis, the first on mapping out the context of the interventions, and the subsequent three aim to explain how the intervention will work in practice.

The context of the offer

The young Greenlanders with whom we have spoken describe that they experience the efforts made on treatment offers fail because they are created from the top down by some professional’s idea about what young people need and not from some knowledge about the young Greenlanders’ actual lives and needs. Furthermore, they find it hard to navigate in the existing treatment offers because access to information isn’t updated and the information they can find is insufficient. This causes a lot of confusion about where and how a person might attain the help and support needed, leaving young Greenlanders with a feeling of falling through the system.

Additionally, there is a dominant discourse in the society that such treatment offers are for people “in need of saving” only, and a cultural understanding about not wanting to be a nuisance to society. This prevents young Greenlanders from seeking the support they might need, because they don’t see themselves in need of saving or they don’t want to be a bother.

Finally, according to young Greenlanders, there isn’t sufficient sharing of knowledge regarding the problems of addiction in society, and there is a very negative discourse about addiction with a huge emphasis on blame and guilt, making the subject taboo to speak about. When no one speaks about the subject, no language and understanding of the problem is created, which entails that kids and young people are getting lost in the system because they don’t even know what an addiction might look like in all its multitudes, they lack the words to describe it, or they are too afraid to speak about it.

Thus, young Greenlanders request more information about the different ways addiction can appear and what consequences it might have for them as next of kin. They want to know why they should reach out and ask for help and wish for stories from others who have been in similar situations with a positive outcome from receiving help.


The framework for the treatment offer

In the future workshops the young Greenlanders requested that the treatment offer shouldn’t be a group offer, where talk therapy is the cornerstone, since they don’t feel comfortable expressing their problems verbally. This lack of wanting to talk about their problems is linked to the Greenlandic culture in which they have been raised, where you don’t want to be a bother to others. This leads to an emotional inability to actually describe a problem, since it’s just not done and there isn’t a language they can use to describe the complexity of how they feel. To remedy this, we concluded in the future workshop that Allorfik’s treatment offer should include group sessions with creative forms of expression, the inclusion of nature, methods to create a joint language about problems and a mentoring scheme.

As an example of a creative form of expression, the young Greenlanders highlighted storytelling as a useful method for the group sessions. There is a vast tradition in Greenlandic culture of storytelling and legends, and it’s the traditional way many children have learned about good and evil in generations. As another example, participants in the group sessions can use sculpturing to show their families and feelings. A creative outlet can offer a different way of dealing with their oppressed and repressed experiences and feelings than traditional talk therapy.

By using creative forms of expression such as storytelling and sculpturing, which has a connection to Greenlandic history and culture, Allorfik could create a treatment offer which includes young Greenlanders’ situation of life by using resources already present in their life. Furthermore, it makes room for those who can’t or won’t express themselves verbally.

Being together in nature and revitalizing outside the town is a huge part of Greenlandic heritage and has an immense significance, not only to young Greenlanders but also to the rest of society. In group sessions there are many ways to incorporate nature, anything from using materials from nature in the creative outlet to moving the sessions outside by taking a walk, sitting by the water or sailing further away from the town. It can be about drawing powers from nature if the participants feel they need strength and energy, or nature can on the other hand be the place where you can leave your frustrations and problems behind for a while.

In the group space, a joint language and a collective understanding of their life situation between the participants should be created, which could bring them together in building an understanding of their situations and what possibilities they might have. The aim would be to create an understanding through dialogue and narratives regarding, for instance, what it means to grow up in a home with substance abuse. As such, the help is not left to the individual but becomes a community process, where the power of action is shared through recognition and acceptance of each other.

By creating a mentoring scheme, Allorfik can ensure that a newcomer is welcomed safely by a like-minded and is supported throughout the course of the process in the time outside of group sessions. The mentoring scheme is built on the assurance that young Greenlanders have the resources to help and support each other and reaffirms the community focus of the treatment offers.


Getting young Greenlanders over the threshold

Allorfik made us aware that one of their challenges has been getting in contact with young Greenlanders. Through the workshop, we discovered that this problem is inevitably connected to the ruling discourse in society about substance abuse and the lack of shared knowledge about the subject. Because the dominant discourse associates the problem with shame, making it taboo to speak about, young Greenlanders are very reluctant to seek out treatment offers on their own. To remedy this, Allorfik must help in creating a new discourse by distributing information about substance abuse.

In this process, Allorfik’s communication must be very clear and comprehensive, so that anyone who needs information about the different treatment offers available has a quick and easy time finding it. Furthermore, Allorfik must, when spreading information about substance abuse, make sure to participate in moving the sense of guilt from the individual to society. This might make more young Greenlanders open to seeking and receiving help and create a greater amount of debate and talk about the subject in society. Allorfik should also use different methods to spread information on the subject, for instance through illustrative storytelling on their platforms, which they can use in both information about their treatment offers and substance abuse in general. This should be done to connect with young Greenlanders whom Allorfik previously had trouble reaching. Furthermore, it is our opinion that Allorfik must create contact with young Greenlanders through peer-to-peer communication and spread out their communication on different platforms. In our future workshop young Greenlanders mentioned Instagram, TikTok and Facebook.


What comes next for Allorfik?

To create a sustainable treatment offer for young Greenlanders, we have established a Program Theory, which is open for evaluation. The Program Theory outlines what we assume will work, and with evaluation it is possible to identify what actually does work and to adjust the parts that don’t. It is a program that can grow, change and be adapted to best fit young Greenlanders who are supposed to benefit from using it. Evaluation is a key element in the viability of the program, as it is created in a changeable context where it is essential that the activities can be adapted and changed to suit the participants. The method of evaluation we recommend is based on empowerment evaluation, because this method uses participant-oriented processes to promote a sense of ownership, empowerment and action, which we view as key elements that embodies both the political strategy for the social work in Greenland and our wish to create a meaningful treatment offer for young Greenlanders.

We have put together a strategy for evaluation that we recommend Allorfik to use. It is divided into three parts; first the participant should reflect on and discuss the group sessions, second the therapists should respond to the points from the first part, and third the participant and the therapist should discuss possible changes to the treatment offer. All of this is to ensure that the treatment offer is sustainable and meaningful for both Allorfik and young Greenlanders.

Perspectivation in relation to the commonwealth

The aim of this project was to create the framework for a sustainable and meaningful intervention for the many young Greenlanders who have been growing up in a home with substance abuse. However, the project has not only sought to contribute to reaching that goal but has also contributed to creating a new way of thinking about social intervention when it comes to the social field in Greenland, by creating an intervention from a Community psychologic and Program theoretic perspective.

The way this project can contribute with new insight and a new kind of solution in the social field is that our starting point is the reality of the participants of the treatment offer, and the focus we have on using the resources that are already present in their lives and communities.

Furthermore, we see community as a key element in the road to recovery. As we have previously described, we have ascertained through our research that there is a huge need for sustainable treatment offers in Greenland. With the initiatives highlighted in this project it should be possible to establish a treatment offer that is not based on one or two professional individuals, instead it is based on a Program Theory strategy which makes the offer sustainable in societies or professions where there is a high turnover of staff, which applies in, for example, Greenland. Furthermore, the analysis of the project shows how the discourse and lack of knowledge on the subject can prevent people from seeking help, even when help is available. The result of this project highlights how important it is to work on breaking down the dominant discourse and create more enlightenment on the subject of substance abuse. At the same time, it was essential for us to create something in line with the political reality and the initiatives that already work in the social field. Therefore we have drawn on the knowledge already created in the field and worked within the political parameters. This way, the results of the projects become relevant for other treatment offers in the social field in Greenland, as the initiatives highlighted by the project support the already existing political strategies, so that we may reach the overall ambition of the social field in Greenland together.

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Senest opdateret 25. november 2021