Training clinicians in cultural psychiatry: a Canadian perspective

Acad Psychiatry. 2008 Jul-Aug;32(4):313-9. doi: 10.1176/appi.ap.32.4.313.


Objectives: The authors summarize the pedagogical approaches and curriculum used in the training of clinicians in cultural psychiatry at the Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry, McGill University.

Method: We reviewed available published and unpublished reports on the history and development of training in cultural psychiatry at McGill to identify the main orientations, teaching methods, curriculum, and course content. Student evaluations of teaching were reviewed. The training strategies and curriculum are related to the larger social context of Canadian society including the history of migration, current demography, and policies of multiculturalism.

Results: The McGill program includes core teaching, clinical rotations, an intensive summer program, and annual Advanced Study Institutes. The interdisciplinary training setting emphasizes general knowledge rather than specific ethnocultural groups, including: understanding the cultural assumptions implicit in psychiatric theory and practice; exploring the clinician's personal and professional identity and social position; evidence-based conceptual frameworks for understanding the interaction of culture and psychopathology; learning to use an expanded version of the cultural formulation in DSM-IV for diagnostic assessment and treatment planning; and developing skills for working with interpreters and culture-brokers, who mediate and interpret the cultural meaning and assumptions of patient and clinician.

Conclusion: An approach to cultural psychiatry grounded in basic social science perspectives and in trainees' appreciation of their own background can prepare clinicians to respond effectively to the changing configurations of culture, ethnicity, and identity in contemporary health care settings.

MeSH terms

  • Competency-Based Education / methods*
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Cultural Competency / education*
  • Curriculum
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / ethnology
  • Psychiatry / education*
  • Quebec

Grants and funding