Reply To: Cultural/ Spiritual Family Beliefs


Hi Katy, I’m really glad you posed this question because I’ve been thinking about this topic since I started the training. In the past I worked with a family whose 12 year old daughter was referred for CYMH service by her school after school staff had observed her talking to herself (a few minutes a day, almost every other day) and appeared to be distracted in class due to internal stimuli. The family brought the youth in for service but did not appear concerned about their daughter’s symptoms. After talking with my client I learned that she knew her peers and teachers may be concerned as she stated she was talking to people that others couldn’t see due to her ability to converse with dead relatives. When I conveyed this information to parents they too already were aware and reported that they were pleased their daughter had this gift as within their culture this was a revered ability. As defined by the DSM/western lens, the youth was experiencing hallucinations, however, neither the parents nor the youth reported they had concerns and denied that the symptoms were life interfering aside from the youth sometimes being self-conscious when peers noticed. The youth was also not distressed by these hallucinations. My attempts to engage the family were ultimately not successful as the youth and the family indicated that they did not think treatment was necessary, and I closed the file. This experience caused me to have a lot of questions, one being: Is not pathologizing symptoms, and in fact celebrating them, correlated with a better prognosis?