Doris Bersing, PhD

Depression: You Can Break Free From it

Sadness and depression

Copyright: kmiragaya

More than just a bout of the blues, depression is not a permanent personality trait or a character issue or a weakness, nor is it something that you can simply “snap out” of.

Clinicians at the Mayo Clinic state that “…Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depression, major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and depression may make you feel as if life isn’t worth living…depression may require long-term treatment. But don’t get discouraged. Most people with depression feel better with medication, psychological counseling or both…”

Struggling with depression requires action, but taking action when you’re depressed is hard. Even f you know you could do something to feel better, the fact of just thinking about the things you should do to feel better, requires a level of energy, often, you do not have. It’s the paradoxical side of fighting depression: The things that help us the most are the things that are the most difficult to do and overcoming depression is not something you do in the blink of an eye, it is difficult stuff but there’s a difference between something that’s difficult and something that’s impossible.

A recent article on WebMD states that “…many people think of depression as an intolerable sadness or a deep gloom that just won’t go away. Yet depression can also be sneaky, disguised in symptoms that can be hard to identify. If you’ve had unexplained aches or pains, often feel irritable or angry for no reason, or cry at the drop of a hat — you could be depressed.

Fortunately, you can be proactive with depression. Learn how these less obvious symptoms can reveal themselves and when you should seek out depression treatment…” Read More

Se Habla Español: Native Language in Psychotherapy for Latinas y Latinos

Copyright: Nito500

Copyright: Nito500

Although a high percentage of all human communication is nonverbal and sometimes too much emphasis is placed in the verbal content during the therapy session, having therapy in a non-native language carries certain challenges to the client as well as to the therapist.

In a study conducted  by Gretchen Foley MD and Julie Gentile, MD, they found “…an estimated 60 to 65 percent of interpersonal communication is conveyed via nonverbal behaviors… many nonverbal behaviors are unconscious and may represent a more accurate depiction of a patient’s attitude and emotional state… all nonverbal behavior must be interpreted within context…” for which I think it is important also the mastery of the verbal content. This dual focus, calls for a real understanding of the body language by the clinician but also an understanding of how culture, race, ethnicity express in different “tongues” and nuances.

Aside from the language, family connections are very important, and non-language based integration issues arise. Language in its verbal or non-verbal form is fundamental for psychotherapy, so people have to feel comfortable with the language as it touches emotions. Sometimes if your “hosting” country language is good enough, it can be therapeutic in itself to work through issues pertaining to the “hosting” country.

In the United States the number of Latinos and Latinas is growing exponentially and already in 2010, one in five Americans identified as Hispanic–with cultural ties to Spanish-speaking countries such as Mexico, Cuba and El Salvador. In some areas of the country, such as Texas, Hispanics may outnumber Caucasians by 2035, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. As this population grows, psychologists can expect to see increasing numbers of Latinos in their waiting rooms, classrooms and research labs. We need to close the gap for Latinos y Latinas.

Sadie Dingfelder wrote on the American Psychological Monitor magazine “…for many Hispanics who seek psychotherapy, their first contact with a mental health professional is also their last–50 percent never return to a psychologist after the first session. Caucasians drop out at a rate of about 30 percent, in comparison. Several factors play into this access disparity–including the cost of health care for a disproportionately low-income population … Dingfelder quoted Dr. Elizabeth Fraga, a Latino-focused practitioner and full-time lecturer at Columbia University’s Teachers College, who says”… many Latinos quit therapy simply because they do not feel understood” …some Hispanics are not completely comfortable speaking in English, and sometimes the values of psychotherapy–or the therapist–are antithetical to those of the Hispanic client.” For example, says Fraga, Latino cultures tend to value a family’s health more than that of its individual family members and may view a psychologist’s suggestions for self-care–such as taking a short vacation alone–as selfish….” Read the article

Unless all clinicians gain some familiarity with Latino culture and language or have an interest in becoming familiar with it, it is going to be difficult for Latinos to find people who may help them.

One of the goals of therapy is to create a trusting relationship and healing environment in which our clients can reveal themselves and engage in what is often challenging and hard work. When working with Latino clients, one must come to know and respect the unique expectations that are in part shaped by culture and world view, and integrate this understanding into the therapeutic approach and if we can manage their native language, we could really create a stronger therapeutic alliance and hit the jackpot. Haga una cita: se ha·bla es·pa·ñol

Latinas’ Challenges to Come Out of The Closet

Copyright : Bogdan Ionescu

Copyright : Bogdan Ionescu

In the Latin culture the role of women is sometimes defined narrowly and women are brought up to be “super” moms and dedicated wives. The family pressure to keep a clean home, raise well-mannered children and be fabulous cooks can be a little overwhelming. You can add onto that pressure that to be a good “wife” and “mother” implies being heterosexual, and find the right “husband” not the right wife.

Latinas,  are professionals, blue collar workers, students, artists, and they all face their own struggles, successes, and secrets.  For we Latinas are as diverse, as shallow, and as deep as our dominant-culture counterparts. Our stories of immigration and oppression are gripping, but they are not only stories of discrimination or acculturation to tell, we also have our gender struggle stories to tell. Some are wives and mothers, yet individuals, too and some of us are lesbians and proud of it. Yet our culture and family does not welcome, always, our “coming out of the closet”. Our stories are as wide and as varied as the hues we come in.

Even the Spanish language conspires against those women who called themselves lesbians or bi-sexuals, because most of the counterpart words in Spanish have a negative connotation. Activists at the Human Rights Campaign had written that “…Although “gay” has the same meaning in Spanish as in English, the word “lesbiana” still has negative connotations. Many Latina women who love women, however, are purposely using the word to reclaim it from those who would use it against them…” (Read More)

On another article HRC states “… Although Latina/o Americans come from various cultural backgrounds, many who come out as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender share similar experiences and challenges. Some, who were raised Roman Catholic, must reconcile themselves with the church’s teachings that acting on one’s homosexuality is sinful. Language differences often make finding resources and support difficult, and a lack of LGBT Latinas/os in media and entertainment perpetuates invisibility. Fortunately, however, anecdotal evidence suggests that a growing number of Latinas/os are coming out…”

Find more resources for Latinas y Latinos “coming out of the closet” on HRC: Guía de Recursos Para Salir Del Clóset