Mental Health as a Western Discipline
Health professionals trained in Western biomedical and biopsychosocIal models need training and practice in cultural competency to meet the needs of clients and families from a diverse range of cultural backgrounds. Mental health practitioners face an additional challenge in that their discipline and tools are steeped in Western values and perspectives. Despite increasing recognition of the critical importance of cultural factors in mental illness, the assumptions of psychiatric universalism continue to dominate and to view culture-specific disorders as simply minor deviations of prototypic disorders (Marsella & Yamada, 2000).
Post-modern perspectives have led us to the recognition that much of our reality is socially and culturally constructed. We have also become aware of the power of the dominant culture in determining what is acceptable and what is considered deviant.
The differences in approach can contribute to the challenges we face when working with CALD clients.
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