Alaska Tribal Justice Resource Center

Providing Training and Technical Assistance to Alaska Tribal Justice Systems

Healing to Wellness Courts

The Tribal Healing to Wellness Court model provides structured and holistic approach to substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation services with the integration of Alaska Native culture and traditions.

Treatment Courts Online

Healing to Wellness Courts


The National Training System for Treatment Court Practitioners

Juvenile drug treatment courts are dockets within juvenile courts for cases involving substance abusing youth in need of specialized treatment services.  The focus is on providing treatment to eligible, drug-involved juvenile offenders with the goal of reducing recidivism and substance abuse. Juvenile drug treatment courts are dockets within juvenile courts for cases involving substance abusing youth in need of specialized treatment services. The focus is on providing treatment to eligible, drug-involved juvenile offenders with the goal of reducing recidivism and substance abuse.

Once registered and logged in, you will have access to these courses:

  • Juvenile Drug Treatment Court: Lessons
  • Juvenile Drug Treatment Court: Practitioner Perspectives
  • Juvenile Drug Treatment Court: Virtual Site Visits
  • Juvenile Drug Treatment Court: Resource Library


The National Training System for Treatment Court Practitioners

Drug courts seek to halt the revolving door of addiction and crime by linking addicted offenders to drug treatment and rigorous judicial monitoring. They bring together judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, treatment providers, and court staff in a collaborative effort to address the offender’s underlying substance use disorder and enforce compliance with court orders. Drug courts also use a system of graduated incentives and sanctions to help substance abusers achieve and maintain a drug-free life.

Once registered and logged in, you will have access to these courses:

  • Adult Drug Court: Lessons
  • Adult Drug Court: Practitioner Perspectives
  • Adult Drug Court: Virtual Site Visits
  • Adult Drug Court: Resource Library
  • Adult Drug Court: Webinars
  • Healing to Wellness Court: Lessons
  • Healing to Wellness Court: Practitioner Perspectives
  • Healing to Wellness Court: Resource Library
  • Tribal Justice System Infrastructure

Tribal Healing To Wellness Courts

10th Annual Tribal Healing to Wellness Court Enhancement Training 2019 Training Materials

A Tribal Nation can only be as strong and healthy as its citizens and families. To hep put misguided tribal community members back on track—on to a healing to wellness journey—Healing to Wellness Courts employ an extensive supervision and treatment program enhanced by appropriate cultural elements. Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts are a component of tribal justice systems that incorporate and adapt the treatment court concept to meet the specific needs of each tribal community. By combining judicial supervision, drug testing, treatment services, and community support, Healing to Wellness Courts provide structure and accountability for offenders and give Native communities a powerful tool to address the problems caused by substance abuse.

Juvenile Treatment Courts

2019 Materials

Presenter:  Alan Rabideau, Training and Technical Assistance Specialist, National Native Children’s Trauma Center

Workshop Description:  The Tribal Juvenile Healing to Wellness Court is a therapeutic Tribal judicial approach implemented to support Tribal youth who may be experiencing a substance use disorder. A dynamic and effective juvenile healing to wellness court will integrate ongoing interdisciplinary team support and actively engage parents and caregivers or anyone else whom the youth may identify as a natural support. Unique kinship roles within AI/AN communities lend themselves to strong support systems that can increase the likelihood of positive outcomes for youth.  In this workshop, participants will explore the benefits and types of authentic parent/caregiver engagement in the juvenile healing to wellness court process, consider some common barriers to effectively and actively engaging parents/caregivers, and be presented with some techniques and tools to overcome these barriers or challenges to engagement. 

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Presenter:  Jeri Brunoe, Owner, Training & Consulting (JBT&C)

Workshop Description:  In this session attendees will learn and understand the developmental stages of our Indigenous children and youth into adulthood. Culture will be the foundation to empowering and engaging youth through experiential techniques and other modalities of learning. This session will take a look at “Youth Today” and why they make the decisions/choices that they do. Come ready to engage, experience and to add to your toolbox of practices. 

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Presenter:  Anna Rangel Clough,Assistant Director, Tribal Youth Resource Center

Workshop Description:  The Tribal Healing to Wellness Court for both adults and juveniles provides access to holistic, structured, and phased alcohol and drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation services that incorporate culture and tradition. See, Tribal Wellness Key Component #4. To support youth in a restorative and holistic manner, Tribal Juvenile Healing to Wellness Court practitioners should seek to utilize a strengths-based approach in collaboratively engaging youth in case planning that is youth-focused and goal oriented. Supporting youth success by focusing on strengths, rather than barriers can assist with positively engaging both the youth and family throughout the case management process. In this session, participants will review case management approaches to support Tribal youth in the healing to wellness court, discuss strengths-based versus challenge-based case management, and review tools and resources to support on-going case management for Tribal youth within the wellness court setting.

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Presenters:  Mark Espinosa, Health System Administrator, Indian Health Service, California Area Office and Carrie Greene, Behavioral Health Consultant, Indian Health Service, California Area Office

Workshop Description:  According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, among persons aged 12 and older, the rate of substance dependence or abuse is higher among American Indians or Alaska Natives (AI/AN) than any other population group. Native youth are disproportionally suffering from substance use and co-occurring disorders. Youth Regional Treatment Centers provide culturally appropriate residential treatment for Native American youth between the ages of 12-17. This session will identify the YRTCs, how to refer youth to these facilities, and the services that are provided.

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Presenters:  Precious Benally, Co-Director, Tribal Youth Program Resource Center, Tribal Law and Policy Institute and Kristina Pacheco, Tribal Wellness Specialist, Tribal Law and Policy Institute

Workshop Description:  Before setting out to plan for a Juvenile Healing to Wellness Court (JHTWC) it is important to note that there is no one singular definition or type of JHTWC. It can be as informal or formal as you would like. Generally, however, a JHTWC should apply focused judicial responsiveness with treatment, mentorship, cultural connectivity, and community engagement to support youth sobriety, accountability, wellness and autonomy. Like other problem-solving courts, JHTWC utilize both indigenous knowledge as well as evidence-based practices to support tribal youth on a path to wellness, health and community belonging. Participants will learn how to incorporate both the Tribal 10 Key Components as well as the Juvenile Drug Court Guidelines in the development of their JHTWC. Facilitated discussions will focus on successes, challenges, and lessons learned from existing JHTWC. Lastly, participants will learn key elements in sustaining their JHTWC from making data-driven programming decisions to networking and nation building to funding opportunities.

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Presenter:  Ron Whitener, Chief Judge of the Tulalip Tribal Court and Affiliated Professor at the University of Washington Law School 

Workshop Description:  This session will address the creation of juvenile delinquency, status offense, at-riskyouth and truancy codes with a focus on current research and best practices for addressing the unique situations of juvenile parties.  It will also address considerations, strategies and challenges of incorporating a juvenile Healing to Wellness court into an existing juvenile justice system.

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Presenter:  Megan Ward, Program Associate, Justice Programs Office, American University

Workshop Description:  The Juvenile Drug Treatment Court (JDTC) Guidelines, released in 2016, provide an evidence-based overview for what works to help young people with a Substance Use Disorder in the justice system. The Guidelines outline research-based program components and policies that are associated with increased youth recovery rates and reductions in recidivism; they cover topics such as, family engagement, team member roles, and contingency management. During this workshop JDTC TTA providers American University will provide an overview of the Guidelines, the research behind them, and how they may be integrated into current Healing to Wellness court practice.

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Presenters:  Pejuta Cangleska Win (Sacred Medicine Circle Woman), Tasha R. Fridia, Consultant & Program Specialist, Tribal Law and Policy Institute, Tribal Youth Resource Center

Workshop Description:  The facilitators of this session will lead a discussion among participants on Indigenous models of restorative practices and culturally appropriate interventions and responses to trauma using a healing-informed approach. The session will cover the importance of language, provide examples of culturally-appropriate interventions, and provide examples of indigenous models of restorative practices.

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Adult Treatment Courts

2019 Materials

Presenters:  Adelle Fontanet, Associate Director, Tribal Justice Exchange, Center for Court Innovation; and Karen Otis, Associate Director, Treatment Court Programs, Center for Court Innovation

Workshop Description:  Restorative justice approaches have their roots in traditional indigenous practices for addressing conflict and dispute. Many tribal justice systems seek to utilize restorative justice practices as a way of reasserting sovereignty and integrating traditional approaches into their court-based programming. Restorative Justice contributes to building stronger community by bringing together victims, offenders, family members, community representatives, and others. Restorative justice practices such as talking circles, victim impact panels, meaningful community service, family group conferences, and other traditional approaches, can be used by treatment courts to help individuals reflect on their behavior, reconnect to family and community, and discover ways to make amends for harms they may have done to others. In this workshop, practitioners from the Center for Court Innovation will delve deeper into the core principles of restorative justice and explore ways that restorative justice practices can be integrated into treatment courts such as through the use of talking circles, victim impact panels, meaningful community service and family group conferencing.

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Presenter:  Lauren van Schilfgaarde, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Tribal Legal Development Clinic Director

Workshop Description:  The disruptive feature of the Wellness Court model hinges on the intentional dismantling of the silos between the courts, behavioral health, and social services. The multi-disciplinary team and their regular interactions with participants and each other does this. But the day-to-day work of Wellness Court must rest on a solid infrastructure of information-sharing protocols and protections. This workshop will over the role of confidentiality and what Wellness Courts must do to protect it. It will also cover information-sharing best practices, including team memorandums of understanding, progress reports, and data dashboards.

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Handout 1 >>>

Handout 2 & 3 >>>

Presenter:  Carolyn Hardin, Chief of Training and Research, National Drug and Court Institute

Workshop Description:  There are important reasons for the framework that phases provide for a treatment court program. Perhaps most importantly, it gives the participants visible steps to measure success. Treatment courts tend to be long, rigorous programs, lasting one to two years. Giving the program structure gives the participant bite-size pieces to tear off and digest. It also allows the team to measure—somewhat objectively—how well the participant is progressing through the program requirements. This session gives an overview of the necessity of distinct phases for a treatment court participant to progress through on their journey towards commencement from treatment court. This presentation will provide the team with an understanding of how to design phases and court requirements. At the end of this session, the participant will be able to learn the two types of phases; learn about the typical phase requirements based on risk and need level; and review examples of typical phase requirements as participants progress through the program.

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Presenters:  Joshua Hudson, Judge, Bay Mills Tribal Court: Healing to Wellness Court, Court of Appeals; Leah Parish, Chief Judge/Healing to Wellness Court Coordinator, Bay Mills Tribal Court

Workshop Description:   Substance use disorders and engagement with the criminal justice system can strain or cut off community and cultural engagement for community members. Bay Mills Healing to Wellness Court has been intentional in the integration of cultural and community engagement into the program, and it has been well received. Through these avenues, Healing to Wellness Court participants can help reintegrate into their community, develop healthier social networks, and can help build a stronger sense of belonging and connection with the people and environment they live in. This presentation will discuss some of the integrations and adaptations, as well as provide opportunity for a hands on exercise, and active discussion throughout the workshop.

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Presenters:  Melissa Simonsen, Prosecutor, Swinomish Indian Tribal Court; Lauren Henry, Tribal Code Reviser, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community; Lorna Dan, Resident Assistant and Case Manager for the Swinomish Recovery Houses

Workshop Description:  Using the Swinomish Healing to Wellness Court legal framework and implementation strategy, we will explore the key components of Wellness Court programs as a tailored alternative to state drug courts. Wellness Court successes come from holistic intervention, so we will discuss the intersecting roles of counseling and treatment services, combined with supervision and cultural engagement. The team-based approach to combating addiction allows the court system to walk alongside individuals on their journey to recovery and wellness, and you’ll hear from a Wellness Court participant that successfully completed the program and now works as a team member in Wellness Court helping other participants navigate their journey to wellness. We will also discuss the advantages of partnerships with civil legal resources to address issues of housing, education, licensing, or other needs in order to reduce the likelihood of recidivism.   Whether you approach criminal justice from a public safety or community intervention perspective, Healing to Wellness Courts offer the hope of restoration to defeat the cycle of criminal justice contact and reintegrate individuals into their Native Communities.

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Presenters:  Jordan Martinson, Tribal Law and Policy Specialist, Tribal Law and Policy Institute; Kristina Pacheco, Tribal Wellness Specialist, Tribal Law and Policy Institute

Workshop Description:  This presentation outlines the basic behavior modification principles and their applicability in incentives, sanctions and therapeutic adjustments. It identifies the importance of incentives, both formal and informal, and their application in the program. The presentation recognizes the effect of immediate consequences in modifying client behavior and identifies the distinctions between court-imposed sanctions and incentives and treatment responses. Examples of successful and creative incentives and sanctions will be provided. 

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Presenters:  Sheila McCarthy, Senior Program Manager, Technical Assistance, Center for Court Innovation; and David Lucas, Clinical Advisor/Senior Program Manager, Technical Assistance, Center for Court Innovation

Workshop Description:  This is an exciting time for drug courts as technological innovations in health care, criminal justice and distance learning are starting to transform the way they work.  In many instances, these innovative “teleservices” rely on familiar technology such as smartphones, computers, and video conferencing products. The goal for court practitioners is integrating these approaches—-many of which have been tested in other fields-—into their day-to-day practice.  This interactive session will provide an opportunity to hear from individuals in the field either providing teleservices directly or utilizing them in practice.  The panel members will discuss logistics of remote access to evidence-based treatments, including Medication-Assisted Treatment.  A representative from an agency providing telemedicine for individuals suffering from opioid use disorder in multiple states across the country will be discussing operationally how individuals are able to receive telemedicine services and how this can benefit Healing to Wellness Courts.  The audience will also hear the benefits from a judge who has incorporated remote appearances and how to continue to engage when the client is not in the courtroom.  Audience members will be able to converse with panel members about how to fill gaps in treatment, supervision and training areas, based on their needs.

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Presenter:  Carrie Garrow, Chief Judge, Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Court

Workshop Description:  Healing to Wellness Court teams need effective leaders. Judges are not only required to lead the team, but assist with leading participants through the Healing to Wellness process. This interactive workshop will engage the workshop participants in a discussion of traditional and judicial leadership skills that will assist judges in leading their teams and participants.

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Tribal Healing to Wellness Court Publication Series

Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts

The Tribal Law and Policy Institute has developed comprehensive Tribal Healing to Wellness Court publications as part of the Tribal Healing to Wellness Court Technical Assistance Project Resource Publication Series. The full series is as follows: 

Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts: The Key Components, 2nd ed. (2014), is designed to provide suggested key components and recommended practices for tribal justice systems to consider as they design, develop, and implement a Tribal Healing to Wellness Court that meets the needs of their community. This publication is organized around ten key components, adapted for tribes, which describe the basic elements of Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts. The purpose of each component is explained, followed by suggested practices, and a real-world example of the component being applied by active Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts.  Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts: The Key Components, 1st ed. (2003)

Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts: Treatment Guidelines, 2nd ed. (2017), is designed to provide tribal communities with an overview of Western substance abuse treatment strategies that have been developed by drug court programs over the past several years and that tribal programs might consider adapting, along with traditional healing practices. This guideline draws upon drug court standards and best practices, and the experiences of hundreds of tribal and state adult and juvenile drug court programs, operating in various environments and serving a wide range of individuals addicted to alcohol and/or other drugs. Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts: Treatment Guidelines for Adults and Juveniles (2002 draft)

Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts: Case Management (2018), provides Wellness Courts and their staff a guide to effective case management and the case manager role. This resource discusses the  drug court case management standards, the functions of case management within a Wellness Court, the models and ethics of case management, data and evaluation, and the role of case management can be functionally and ethically shared by other members of the Wellness Court team. This appendix of this publication includes models of case management, vicarious trauma, sample job descriptions, sample participant progress reports, and sample Wellness Court data values.  

Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts: The Judicial Bench Book (2016)
The role of the Healing to Wellness Court differs dramatically from the adversarial trial court judge, both in mechanics and in philosophy. In Wellness Court, the judge serves as the captain or the coach of the team, focused on healing and collaboration. This publication orients and serves the Wellness Court judge while on the bench. The first section provides examples of key component performance in relation to component principles. The second section overviews key Wellness Court processes and procedures. Both sections include Bench Cards intended to serve as tools that package relevant information in an abbreviated format. Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts: The Judge’s Bench Book (2002 draft).

Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts: The Policies and Procedures Guide (2015), is the quintessential tool for the Healing to Wellness Court, documenting the structure and spirit of the Court. This publication provides an overview of the key considerations for what should be included in the manual, including team roles and responsibilities, phase systems, alcohol and drug testing, and statutory provisions. Rather than detailing one “model” manual, this publication provides excerpts from over fifteen operational manuals in order to preview the level of legal and cultural diversity that is possible within a Healing to Wellness Court.

Overview of Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts, 2nd ed. (2014), offers an overview of Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts, also known at Tribal Drug Courts. This publications explores some of the unique opportunities and challenges faced in implementing and operating a Healing to Wellness Court. Common challenges include adapting the drug court concept to include alcohol dependency and abuse treatment, accounting for the unique jurisdictional factors present in Indian country, and ensuring sustainability. Common opportunities include addressing the specific cultural needs of the tribal nation, engaging in judicial innovation, and providing an alternative to incarceration. Healing to Wellness Courts: A Preliminary Overview of Tribal Drug

Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts: Program Development Guide (2002 Draft) provides step-by-step recommendations for design, development, and implementation of Tribal Healing to Wellness Court programs from a practical standpoint. It is designed to assist sterring committees and planning groups as they (1) use team-based approaches; (2) gain knowledge of Healing to Wellness Court concepts; (3) incorporate the ten key components; (4) help establish policies and procedures suitable to the needs of the tribal community; (5) guide the court to integrate available resources; (6) develop interagency agreements; (7) incorporate a management information system to track participants and services; and (8) identify possible problem areas.

Adults -The Tribal 10 Key Components

Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts

Tribal Healing to Wellness Court brings together alcohol and drug treatment, community healing resources, and the tribal justice process by using a team approach to achieve the physical and spiritual healing of the individual participant, and to promote Native nation building and the well-being of the community.

Participants enter Tribal Healing to Wellness Court through various referral points and legal processes that promote tribal sovereignty and the participant’s due (fair) process rights.

Eligible court-involved substance-abusing parents, guardians, juveniles, and adults are identified early through legal and clinical screening for eligibility and are promptly placed into the Tribal Healing to Wellness Court.

Tribal Healing to Wellness Court provides access to holistic, structured, and phased alcohol and drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation services that incorporate culture and tradition.

Tribal Healing to Wellness Court participants are monitored through intensive supervision that includes frequent and random testing for alcohol and drug use, while participants and their families benefit from effective team-based case management.

Progressive rewards (or incentives) and consequences (or sanctions) are used to encourage participant compliance with the Tribal Healing to Wellness Court requirements.

Ongoing involvement of a Tribal Healing to Wellness Court judge with the Tribal Wellness Court team and staffing, and ongoing Tribal Wellness Court judge interaction with each participant are essential.

Process measurement, performance measurement, and evaluation are tools used to monitor and evaluate the achievement of program goals, identify needed improvements to the Tribal Healing to Wellness Court and to the tribal court process, determine participant progress, and provide information to governing bodies, interested community groups, and funding sources.

Continuing interdisciplinary and community education promote effective Tribal Healing to Wellness Court planning, implementation, and operation.

The development and maintenance of ongoing commitments, communication, coordination, and cooperation among Tribal Healing to Wellness Court team members, service providers and payers, the community and relevant organizations, including the use of formal written procedures and agreements, are critical for Tribal Wellness Court success.

Alaska Tribal Justice Resource Center

Training & Technical Assistance Support

731 East 8th Avenue Anchorage, AK 99501

This is a RurAL CAP affiliated program.

Dena’inaq ełnen’aq’ gheshtnu ch’q’u yeshdu: I live and work on the land of the Dena’ina people

This project was supported by Grant No. 2019-IC-BX-K004 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. 

The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, which also includes:  The Bureau of Justice Statistics, The National Institute of Justice, The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, The Office for Victims of Crime, and the SMART Office. 

Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.