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Representation of subjective distress in black and ethnic minority patients: constructing a research agenda

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Since very little is known about how black and ethnic minority patients represent and present their subjective distress, and consequently less still is known about how psychotherapists interpret these communications, research into this area is vital. In examining this idea, this paper discusses notions of illness representation and presentation generally with particular reference to black and ethnic minority patients. It argues that in ascribing universal meanings of distress, a therapist may neglect the network of meanings that an illness has for a particular sufferer in a particular culture. Therapists who contain their search to the multi(ple) cultural therapies and the variables of race and ethnicity may find themselves being limited in their repertoire of interpretations of individual's illness. It is argued that these variables are contested, ambiguous and ideologically based sites, and are therefore problematic in psychotherapy. The paper argues that through locating alternate epistemologies, research into understanding how black and ethnic minority patients conceptualize and express their distress can better develop the theory, practice and research of psychotherapy with these groups.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Sheffield

Publication date: June 1, 2000

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