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Hispanic family therapy : critical literature review

24 July 1998


This critical literature review (1988-June, 1997) of theoretically-based articles/chapters on Hispanic family therapy serves a threefold purpose: (a) to
gain an overview of the theoretical orientations being utilized and learn if one
orientation has gained dominance, (b) to determine if there is support for the
inclusion of common cultural factors in therapy, and (c) to propose a model of
family therapy with Latinos. Fourteen of the twenty-six articles/chapters utilize a
single orientation, while the rest employ more than one orientation and fall under
the eclectic category. The authors surveyed endorse a total of seventeen theoretical orientations. The strategic systems and structural approaches are
combined into one subset (ss/s). The ss/s subset is found to hold a dominant
position: it accounts for 78% of the articles/chapters that employ a single
orientation and is a constituent element in 75% of the eclectic approaches.
Eclectic is the modality of choice in 46% of the articles/chapters. A distribution
of theoretical orientations by population reveals disparities in the representation
of Latino groups relative to their percentage of the U.S. Hispanic population.
Fourteen cultural factors are endorsed by the authors as important to include in
case conceptualization and intervention. Thematic relationships are noted
among the elements, which allows for groupings that result in six main cultural
factors: central position of the family, stresses of migration, family hierarchical
structure, interdependence, emphasis on spiritual values, and concept of time.
A model is proposed for therapy with low-income Hispanic families, particularly
those whose members were born in Mexico or who are first generation Mexican
American. Recommendations are made in regard to setting, office support, and
preferred qualities of the clinician. A three step process is offered for the clinical use of theoretical orientation informed by culture: (a) the gathering of cultural
and theoretical beliefs/hypotheses, (b) a comparison of perspectives to discern
points of congruence and divergence, and (c) the synthesis of culture and
orientation in therapy. The proposed model of family therapy is based on the
belief that psychotherapy should accommodate the family's culture to the extent
that the law and professional ethics allow.


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