Cultural diversity and mental health: Towards integrative practice

Susan James, Isaac Prilleltensky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Adopting an integrative approach to mental health is especially important when working with people from diverse cultural backgrounds. In order to render culturally sensitive practice, we need to be immersed in the philosophical, contextual, and experiential considerations of the cultural group with whom we work. Comprehensive assessment and intervention involves bridging disciplines to gain a more holistic appreciation for the group's situation and experience. Thus, we have taken a transdisciplinary approach (a) to provide a framework for understanding and improving mental health in the context of cultural diversity and (b) to promote legitimate practice, or the unity of reflection, research, and action, in mental health in different cultures. We provide an example of how we use this framework in our work with the Portuguese immigrant community. The framework is not only limited to assessing the needs of individuals but draws on anthropology, philosophy, political science, and religious studies to understand the social, cultural, moral, and religious domains. In addition, community psychologists and social activists provide models of how to intervene at community or societal levels. The unique contribution of the integrative practice framework is that merges considerations that are typically studied in isolation. Needs, norms, context, values, and social change are not always studied in an integrative fashion. Thus, the article offers a way of considering seemingly disparate but highly complementary practice deliberations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1133-1154
Number of pages22
JournalClinical Psychology Review
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Culture
  • Holistic
  • Immigrant
  • Mental health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology


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