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Educational Psychologists in the Arab and Haredi Sectors of Jerusalem : : Implications of Construction of Self and Other for Psychological Practice

  • Author(s): Eliot, Krista Shawn
  • et al.
Abstract

This study compares cross-cultural issues faced by educational psychologists working in the Palestinian and Haredi sectors of Jerusalem. Literature on mental health care in these sectors has characterized them as suspicious of and especially resistant to secular professional psychological treatment, pointing out how cultural categories for interpreting many forms of human distress in both sectors differ from "mainstream" Israeli society. I interviewed twelve psychologists working in schools in these sectors about how cultural issues affect their work. I found that the psychologists' narratives tended to reflect attempts to negotiate issues raised by their degree of identification with the population in which they are working, and that where the psychologist locates herself on the political map of Jerusalem is a critical factor in understanding how she handles cultural differences and ethical dilemmas. Psychologists who identified closely with the people with whom they work (generally true of the Palestinian psychologists) were generally open about their desire to use their own influence to change societal values with which they disagree. Psychologists who characterized their clients as culturally other (generally true of the Israeli psychologists) were, by contrast, insistent that their role is not to make any changes in their clients' culture or to question their values. In both cases the political use of the concept of culture to build, or to erase, barriers between themselves and their clients can cloud the real issues of communication at hand

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