Towards a Cultural–Clinical Psychology

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Abstract

For decades, clinical psychologists have catalogued cultural group differences in symptom presentation, assessment, and treatment outcomes. We know that ‘culture matters’ in mental health – but do we know how it matters, or why? Answers may be found in an integration of cultural and clinical psychology. Cultural psychology demands a move beyond description to explanation of group variation. For its part, clinical psychology insists on the importance of individual people, while also extending the range of human variation. Cultural–clinical psychology integrates these approaches, opening up new lines of inquiry. The central assumption of this interdisciplinary field is that culture, mind, and brain constitute one another as a multi-level dynamic system in which no level is primary, and that psychopathology is an emergent property of that system. We illustrate cultural–clinical psychology research using our work on depression in Chinese populations and conclude with a call for greater collaboration among researchers in this field.

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