Individuality and culturality of psychotherapeutic needs

BBC - Radio 4 - All in the Mind
It's just under a year since the Tsunami devastated coastal communities around the Indian Ocean . Raj reports from his recent visit to the Tamil Nadu region of India with the charity Action Aid, where he met some of the people affected, and observed the work that's being done on the emotional rebuilding of their lives.

He's also joined in the studio by Dr Uni Krishnan, who specialises in psycho-social care for Action Aid in Asia , and Professor Simon Wessely from Kings College in London who has researched post traumatic stress disorder, to discuss the best approach to help people deal psychologically with disasters like the Tsunami.

Interesting interview regarding the individuality of psychotherapeutic needs and some cultural influences. Wesley mentions that some of the assumptions about externalizing all stressful experiences may have been too ambitious. In fact he described some of the post-disaster interventions (psychological debriefing) as "a disaster in itself" and was worried that there might be some exporting of our "flawed models". He praised the psychosocial care approach which combines infrastructure rebuilding and providing information (eg. on the causes of tsunamis). This avoids "overt psychologization of trauma" which will probably be more effective in the long term. The problem with this is that "it probably gets in the way of doing what comes naturally" which is turning to people you already know in the time and place of your choosing. This approach does not use 'mental health professionals' who have the view that "it's good to talk and you have to talk now". This might interfere with a "natural process of resilience and recovery". Our generation prefers the externalization of feelings and the previous prefered stoic reticence. "Who's to say which is right" says Wesley. A similar point was made recently by researchers into stress on Science Friday.

Of course, the metaphor in "emotional rebuilding of their lives" in the quote above is of interest in itself. The image of life as a structure that has a certain level of stability, can be brought down, rebuilt, built well or badly, needs to have foundations, etc. is a powerful sources of inferences.