chapter  1
Lessons from the Anthropological Field
Reflecting on where culture and psychotherapy meet
WithJames Davies
Pages 18

This chapter derives from six months’ participation in clinical group supervision as a participating psychotherapeutic practitioner. These weekly sessions comprised three trainee psychoanalytic psychotherapists, one consultant psychiatrist and one psychoanalytic group facilitator, all of whom worked within a context where cultural competency was expected from practitioners. The chapter illustrates the proposition by way of some general reflections on the diagnosis of mental health problems. Psychotherapeutic systems bring to the facts the philosophies they claim to derive from them, contrary to what it taught. Psychotherapists are often taught, although not always explicitly, to operate as though the therapeutic thought-styles into which they are initiated can, at their very best, generate accurate insights into the ‘clinical’ phenomena encountered. While anthropological intentions directly or indirectly endeavour to facilitate wider socio-cultural understanding and/or change, psychotherapeutic aims are more particularistic and redemptive in nature.