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Cult Med Psychiatry. 2013 Jun;37(2):347-64. doi: 10.1007/s11013-013-9316-0.

A diversity of voices: the McGill 'Working with Culture' seminars.

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  • 1McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada. jaswant.guzder@mcgill.ca


The Working with Culture seminar is offered as a course during the month long Annual McGill Summer Program for Social and Transcultural Psychiatry, attended by local and international participants each May since 1994. The article outlines some of the premises and pedagogical approaches of this clinically oriented biweekly seminar series with discussions and didactic teaching on cultural dimensions of mental health care. The course readings, seminar topics and invited speakers focus mainly on therapist client encounters constructed by the multiple voices with dimensions of psychiatric, social, historical, legal, ethical, political, systemic and intra-psychic domains. The dual leadership emphasizes the gaps and complementarity amongst voices, and it invites and supports a destabilizing decentering process and the creation of solidarities amongst participants. Applying a bio-psychosocial case study method, each 3-h seminar engages the participants in a critical dialogue on apprehending the enmeshment of social suffering with psychiatric disorders whilst examining the usefulness and the limits of cultural formulation models. The seminar working group and teaching approach acknowledges cultural hybridity as a dynamic process marked by continuous therapist attunement to uncertainty or 'not knowing' which implies a dethroning of an expert position.

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