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Puerto Rican client expectations of therapists and folkloric healers

Josefina Zeda Batista, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Many Puerto Ricans living in the United States have underused mental health facilities. Addressing the problem requires knowledge of the clients' perspective, which has not been obtained. This writer studied clients' perspectives on mental health and their expectations of those who help them. Included in the study was a view of Espiritistas and Santeros, practitioners of traditional religions in Puerto Rico, the former religion of French, the latter of African origin. They have functioned as therapists among Puerto Ricans, so the reason for clients' choice of help was important to a study of the problem as a whole. A survey of 100 Puerto Rican subjects in Springfield and Holyoke, Massachusetts, and Hartford, Connecticut, showed that while many clients liked the opportunity to talk about their problems and be understood at a mental health facility, the folkloric practitioners' concentration on and promise of concrete results and delivery of those results, together with the social networking through those practitioners, were a powerful attraction to clients. Men and middle class respondents generally did not use mental health facilities, but did go to the folkloric practitioners.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Social psychology|Cultural anthropology|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Zeda Batista, Josefina, "Puerto Rican client expectations of therapists and folkloric healers" (1998). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9823794.