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Interest Section on Culture and Psychotherapy
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Interest Section on Culture and Psychotherapy

The Society for Psychotherapy Research Interest Section on Culture and Psychotherapy (SPRISCAP) aims to promote awareness and advance scientific understanding of (a) the social and cultural contexts of psychotherapy, (b) their influences upon therapeutic processes and outcomes, and (c) their role in shaping the varied forms that psychotherapies have taken both in contemporary and in traditional societies.

Historically, psychotherapies -- as they developed in Europe, and North and South America -- evolved primarily as subdisciplines within the professions of medicine (psychiatry) and psychology (clinical psychology). The dominant conceptual traditions in these professions focused primarily on the functioning and dysfunctions of the individual, viewed either as an biological organism (in medicine) or as a distinct personality (in psychology). Psychotherapy researchers, trained mainly in these disciplines, have pursued studies largely within this individualistic conceptual framework, focusing mainly on the intrapsychic processes, behaviors, and personal relationships of individuals—rather than on the cultural patterns and the social, economic and political institutions that also shape people’s lives and development.

SPRISCAP hopes to enrich the conceptual landscape of psychotherapy research by adding the conceptual perspectives and methods of social scientific disciplines (such as anthropology and sociology) to those of psychology and psychiatry, in order to broaden the range of questions investigated by psychotherapy researchers, and enhance the explanatory power of our theories.

Interests expressed by SPRISCAP members to date include the following intellectual concerns and needs:

  1. The need to become more clearly aware of the implicit ideological, social, and value presuppositions of psychotherapy as a modern form of psychological healing that has developed and been practiced in the "Western” cultural region—presuppositions that may be dysfunctional and potentially counter-therapeutic in alternative cultural contexts.
  2. The need to balance a narrow, de-contextualized conception of individuals in therapy with an ecologically valid understanding of clients and practitioners as operating within defined sociocultural and developmental contexts (e.g., to include modifications of patients’ communal life-situations and life-course trajectories as targets in assessing therapeutic outcomes).
  3. The need to study the impact of language use and expressive norms on the communication of meanings and feelings in psychotherapy, to compare these processes when participants communicate in multiple languages, and to examine the different impacts of therapy conducted in one's mother-tongue or in a foreign language, for both therapists and clients.
  4. The need to explore traditional ‘non-scientific’ forms of psychological healing, in Western and non-Western societies, as parallel and potentially instructive modes of psychotherapeutic intervention.
  5. The need to creatively adapt (or re-invent) modern Western psychotherapies to meet the psychological needs of the poor; of indigenous, immigrant and displaced refugee groups; of persecuted, oppressed, and victimized minorities; of mainstream but devoutly religious populations within Western countries; and of traditional majority populations, in Western and non-Western countries, who are impacted by economic and cultural globalization.
  6. The need to appreciate the multiplicity of cultural "voices” or socio-cultural identities that influence the development of individuals (ethnic, religious, political, family, gender, sexual, social class, etc.), in order to do justice to the complexity of individuals as they internalize, embody, reorganize, and transform those varied voices and identities in an increasingly globalized cultural context.

The aim of SPRISCAP is to establish an official forum within SPR to support continued discussion and stimulate research on the foregoing and other related issues. The intended activities of SPRISCAP include (a) promoting research panels, workshops and discussion groups at annual international and regional SPR conferences, (b) maintaining a page on the SPR website in order to inform SPRISCAP members and other interested persons about these activities, (c) to encourage collaborative research on topics related to issues of culture and psychotherapy among SPRISCAP members, and offer preliminary web-based reports of their findings, and (d) to develop contacts and liaisons with other scientific and scholarly organizations having similar interests.

As of mid-2008, collaborative SPRISCAP-sponsored research projects have already focused on multilingualism in psychotherapy, on the religious backgrounds and spirituality of psychotherapy patients and practitioners, and on international comparison of the psychotherapeutic professions.

All interested SPR members are invited to join SPRISCAP by completing and returning the following brief survey of interests. All others who are interested in joining SPRISCAP are welcome to do so at the modest cost, and considerable benefit of becoming SPR members (see the SPR home page for membership information).

Survey [doc]

Reports on the Psychotherapeutic Professions

The following material may be cited as references but should not be quoted without specific permission from the author(s) of each report.

Download all reports [zip]

The Psychotherapeutic Professions in Argentina
by Elena Stein-Sparvieri and David Maldavsky

The Psychotherapeutic Professions in Australia
by Robert King, Tom O’Brien, & Margot Schofield

The Psychotherapeutic Professions in Austria
by Marianne Springer-Kremser , Elisabeth Jandl Jager

The Psychotherapy in Austria
by Alfred Pritz

The Psychotherapeutic Professions in Canada
by Nicola Gazzola, Adam Horvath, Linda Page, Jacqueline Synard, Shaké Toukmanian

The Psychotherapeutic Professions in Canada (revised June 2009)
by Nicola Gazzola, Martin Drapeau, Jacqueline Synard, Adam Horvath,
Linda Page, Shaké Toukmanian

The Psychotherapeutic Professions in Chile
by Laura Moncada

Czech Republic
The Psychotherapeutic Professions in the Czech Republic
by David Skorunka & Zbynk Vybíral

The Psychotherapeutic Professions in Denmark
by Claus Haugaard Jacobsen

The Psychotherapeutic Professions in France
by Michaël Villamaux

The Psychotherapeutic Professions in Germany
by Bernhard Strauss

The Psychotherapeutic Professions in Israel
by G . Shefler, O. Tishby, & H. Wiseman

The Psychotherapeutic Professions in Italy
by Marco Bani, Giorgio Rezzonico, Mariagrazia Strepparava

The Psychotherapeutic Professions in Norway
by Michael Helge Rønnestad

The Psychotherapeutic Professions in Poland
by Jerzy Aleksandrowicz

The Psychotherapeutic Professions in Portugal
by Fernando Silva

The Psychotherapeutic Professions in Romania
by Geanina Cucu-Ciuhan

The Psychotherapeutic Professions in Switzerland
by Ulrich Schnyder & Peter Schulthess

The Psychotherapeutic Professions in Uruguay
by Denise Defey

The Psychotherapeutic Professions in the United States of America
by Abraham Wolf, Gabor Keitner, & Barbara Jennings

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