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Affective expression of bilingual Hispanics: Significance for diagnosis and treatment

14 December 1992


Demographic trends indicate that more and more Hispanic persons will be seen by mental health professionals in coming years. A large percentage of Hispanic clients can be expected to have functional use of English--to be bilingual. Given the relatively small number of bilingual therapists available, however, we face the question as to whether bilingual Hispanics can be effectively diagnosed and treated in English. This thesis contends that diagnosis and treatment are compromised when Hispanic bilingual clients are required to speak English. This premise is founded on two related arguments. First, affective expression for bilingual Hispanics is held within the domain of Spanish. Second, the clinician relies heavily on an understanding of the affective domain in formulating an accurate diagnosis and planning treatment. Support of these arguments is presented by means of a discussion of research findings, citations from the revised third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and presentation of clinical examples. Finally, a call is made for psychology to increase its share of culturally diverse professionals.


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