Indian family systems, collectivistic society and psychotherapy

Indian J Psychiatry. 2013 Jan;55(Suppl 2):S299-309. doi: 10.4103/0019-5545.105555.

Abstract

Indian society is collectivistic and promotes social cohesion and interdependence. The traditional Indian joint family, which follows the same principles of collectivism, has proved itself to be an excellent resource for the care of the mentally ill. However, the society is changing with one of the most significant alterations being the disintegration of the joint family and the rise of nuclear and extended family system. Although even in today's changed scenario, the family forms a resource for mental health that the country cannot neglect, yet utilization of family in management of mental disorders is minimal. Family focused psychotherapeutic interventions might be the right tool for greater involvement of families in management of their mentally ill and it may pave the path for a deeper community focused treatment in mental disorders. This paper elaborates the features of Indian family systems in the light of the Asian collectivistic culture that are pertinent in psychotherapy. Authors evaluate the scope and effectiveness of family focused psychotherapy for mental disorders in India, and debate the issues and concerns faced in the practice of family therapy in India.

Keywords: Indian family systems; collectivistic society; psychotherapy.