Original Articles

Cultural Embeddedness of Health, Illness and Healing: Prospects for Integrating Indigenous and Western Healing Practices

Published in: Journal of Psychology in Africa
Volume 21, issue 3, 2011 , pages: 349–356
DOI: 10.1080/14330237.2011.10820467
Author(s): Tholene SodiUniversity of Limpopo, South Africa, Olaniyi BojuwoyeUniversity of the Western Cape, South Africa


Culture influences conceptualizations about illness, health and healthcare. In this article we argue that Western-oriented health care models have limited success when applied to health conditions of people of non-Western cultures and contend that culture is an important factor in health, illness and healing. We present two cultural modes of illness and healing to illustrate that many health conditions are meaningful and can be effectively managed with consideration of the cultural contexts of the communities concerned. We illustrate, by case examples, how these cultural conceptualisations influence the treatment of illness in three different cultural settings. In addition, we identify some of the key challenges to integrating traditional healing into counselling and psychotherapy. Integration of different cultural healthcare models is a best practice in comprehensive context sensitive delivery of healthcare.

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