Culture, Power, and Community: Intercultural Approaches to Psychosocial Assistance and Healing


Wessells, Michael. 1999. “Culture, Power, and Community: Intercultural Approaches to Psychosocial Assistance and Healing.” In Honoring Differences: Cultural Issues in the Treatment of Trauma and Loss, edited by K. Nader, N. Dubrow, and B. Stamm, 276–82. New York: Taylor and Francis.

Author: Michael Wessells


Aims to integrate main insights into a broad conceptual framework centered around the issues of context, culture, power, and community. This chapter begins with the idea that loss of hope, meaning, and perceived control are pivotal aspects of trauma (J. Herman, 1992). Recovery from trauma and loss is argued to require the reconstruction of meaning, the rebuilding of hope and the sense of empowerment needed to regain control of one's being and life. The author contends that the imposition of Western, decontextualized views marginalizes local voices and cultural traditions, disempowers communities, and limits healing. Conversely, the use of consultants' power to situate problems in historic context and to learn about and valorize local cultural traditions, when appropriate, is viewed as empowering the community and bringing into play culturally appropriate sustainable healing resources. Implications for how one works as a consultant, views and works with local people in need, and disposes oneself toward other cultures are considered.

Topics: Health, Trauma, Humanitarian Assistance, Context-Appropriate Response to Trauma, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction

Year: 1999

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