teaching suggestions

The following section describes modules that can be inserted into existing courses.

As part of an undergraduate course in cultural or cross-cultural psychology (1 week)

Reading #1. Chapter on mental health from Heine’s (2011) textbook (or equivalent). [Heine, S. J. (2012). Cultural Psychology (2nd Ed.). New York: Norton.]

Reading #2. Ethan Waters’ New York Times article about ‘Crazy Like Us’ and/or Shankar Vedantam’s Washington Post series on “Psychiatry’s Missing Diagnosis”.

The class begins by watching Robert Lemelson’s film (or selected clips) from ‘Shadows and Illuminations’, part of the Afflictions Series. Students then work in groups to identify different accounts of symptoms – e.g., the sufferer, relatives, friends, community, native healer, psychologist. They then consider culture-, mind-, and brain-level influences shaping the person’s expression of distress and the ways in which these might interact. Finally, they discuss different treatment efforts across these levels. A discussion involving the entire class then allows the various small groups to share their observations.

As part of an introductory graduate course in the practice of assessment or therapy (1-2 weeks)

Reading #1. Chapters 5 and/or 7 (i.e., assessment and treatment) of Tseng’s (2003) guide for clinicians. [Tseng, W.-S. (2003). Clinician’s Guide to Cultural Psychiatry. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.]

Reading #2. Chapter 4 of the DSM-IV-TR Casebook, on “International Cases”. [Spitzer, R. L., Gibbon, M., Skodol, A. E., Williams, J. B. W., First, M. B. (2002). DSM-IV-TR Casebook. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.]

Students work in one or more groups, depending on class size. Each group identifies a case example from the DSM-IV-TR casebook that strikes them as unusual or surprising. They first consider culture-, mind-, and brain-level influences shaping the person’s expression of distress and the ways in which these might interact. Then, they consider how culturally competent assessment and/or treatment might proceed according to the principles outlined by Tseng.

An introductory graduate lecture on cultural-clinical psychology (1 week)

Reading #1. Ryder, Ban, and Chentsova-Dutton’s (2011) paper in Social and Personality Psychology Compass. [Ryder, A. G., Ban, L. M., & Chentsova-Dutton, Y. E. (2011). Towards a cultural-clinical psychology. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 5, 960-975.]

Reading #2. A cultural-clinical case study from anthropology or cultural psychiatry. One example is Michel Tousignant’s paper on sadness in Equador. [Tousignant, M. (1984). Pena in the Equadorian Sierra: A psychoanthropological analysis of sadness. Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry, 8, 381-398.]

Students work in one or more small groups, depending on class size. It is necessary that they have done the readings in advance, especially the case study. Groups brainstorm on possible research questions based on the case study. They then select a research question and develop ideas for a study that addresses this question. The study should target a particular cultural explanation for a clinical phenomenon – in other words, it should ‘unpack culture’. Students should consider (a) the influence of at least two levels of culture-mind-brain, (b) particular cultural scripts that may be operating, and/or (c) looping effects. It is not necessary for a single study to incorporate all of these elements, but they should be a part of the idea-generation process.

 

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