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Annals of Anthropological Practice

APPLYING NEPALI ETHNOPSYCHOLOGY TO PSYCHOTHERAPY FOR THE TREATMENT OF MENTAL ILLNESS AND PREVENTION OF SUICIDE AMONG BHUTANESE REFUGEES

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Abstract

Addressing mental health needs of 100,000 ethnic Nepali Bhutanese refugees relocated from Nepal is a new challenge for mental health clinicians in the receiving countries. A limitation of current services is the lack of knowledge about cultural understandings of mental health. Ethnopsychology is the study of emotions, suffering, the self, and social relationships from a cultural perspective. Nepali ethnopsychology can be used to develop and adapt mental health interventions for refugees. We discuss applying ethnopsychology to provide safe and effective mental healthcare for Bhutanese refugees, including cultural adaptation of cognitive behavior therapy, interpersonal therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy. Psychological interventions are proposed for the high rates of suicide among Bhutanese refugees. The contribution of ethnopsychology to applied anthropology and the growing field of neuroanthropology are discussed.

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