Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Exporting a therapy culture

New York Times has an essay today about the debate going on in international aid circles over whether therapy services should be included in aid packages after disasters and wars. The article gives the impression that there is a growing consensus that therapy is not something that foreign victims of such tragedies need. However, if you look at the author’s most recent publication, you might come to the conclusion that this person believes that therapy and the reliance thereon is not necessarily something good.

I’m not sure how I feel about the issue. On one hand, it certainly seems that the potential for post-traumatic stress syndrome and other similar psychological problems would be much greater after something like a war or a disaster. On the other hand, therapy seems like a uniquely subjective experience that relies on the provider and the recipient sharing similar cultural, linguistic, and possibly religious backgrounds in order that they can have meaningful discussion and analysis. Certainly this seems to be a good argument for providing access to local healers. Indigenous folkways might not provide pharmaceutical relief, but I don’t think the importance of rites and rituals should be overlooked.

Anyway, it’s an interesting article and not a topic I’ve ever thought about before.