Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Therapeutic Relationships, Social Support, and the Therapeutic Unit in Healing Practices of the Maya of Guatemala
by Vides Porras, Ana, Ph.D., University of Wyoming, 2017, 280; 10682732
Abstract (Summary)

Therapeutic Relationships have proven to be fundamental in shaping the results of biomedical and psychotherapeutic interventions. However, the configuration of such relationships is radically different where traditional modalities of healing are practiced. This dissertation is focused on the Therapeutic Relationships that take place in Maya traditional healing and draws on interviews with Maya healers, their patients and patients’ family members, and Maya patients and their family members as they sought cancer treatment in a biomedical institution. Given that Therapeutic Relationships in Maya traditional healing go beyond the conventional practitioner-patient dyad to incorporate family and community members, as well as the natural and spiritual realms, I propose based on the data I gathered, the existence of a Therapeutic Unit. This Unit binds all the actors into a coherent system in which all participants, by providing different types of social support, play important roles in the process of restoring health. The Therapeutic Unit´s active role on the illness-disease process shapes the Help-Seeking Pathways of patients as they move between different ethnomedical systems and is fundamental in overcoming the bureaucracy of biomedical health institutions. The Therapeutic Unit is resilient and everyone within it has the ability to learn from the Help-Seeking process. As a result, different members gain proficiency in navigating the bureaucratic system and acquire important abilities and knowledge that may become useful in the future. The social relationships of patients and their families are also strengthened, as different actors get together and work toward reaching a shared goal, recuperating the balance lost to illness. The Therapeutic Unit Framework has implications for medical anthropology as a new way of analyzing and conceptualizing the healing processes in traditional societies, while for the psychological and biomedical fields, it has the potential to expand the practitioners´ understanding of patients´ expectations in highly culturally diverse settings.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Innes, Pamela J.
Commitee: Garnett, Rodney, McKibbin, Christine, Murphy, Melissa S., Porter, Christine
School: University of Wyoming
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- Wyoming
Source: DAI-A 80/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Latin American Studies, Psychology
Keywords: Help-seeking pathways, Maya healing, Social support, Therapeutic relationship
Publication Number: 10682732
ISBN: 978-0-438-52766-9
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