Research Topic

Contextual shaping of health and well-being: Contributions from cultural-clinical psychology

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Clinical psychologists have catalogued cultural group differences in well-being, psychopathology, assessment, and treatment. We know that 'culture matters' in mental and physical health - but do we know how it matters, or why? An integration of cultural and clinical psychology provides new ways of thinking ...

Clinical psychologists have catalogued cultural group differences in well-being, psychopathology, assessment, and treatment. We know that 'culture matters' in mental and physical health - but do we know how it matters, or why? An integration of cultural and clinical psychology provides new ways of thinking about this problem. Whereas cultural psychology moves beyond group differences to explanations of variability and consideration of deep cultural shaping, clinical psychology underscores the importance of individual people and extends the range of human variations in affect, behavior, and cognition. Cultural-clinical psychology studies the ways in which people are shaped by their cultural context to experience and express well-being, health, illness, distress, in an astonishing variety of different ways (Ryder, Ban, & Chentsova-Dutton, 2011: Social and Personality Psychology Compass). While some researchers have followed similar directions for years or even decades, a clear perspective is emerging only slowly. Similarly, while there is much exciting work being done right now on these topics, there is no clear forum in which such work is ideally presented and brought together. In short, there is as yet little sense of a community of cultural-clinical psychology researchers. This Frontiers research topic aims to further that project.

Within the general domain of how culture shapes mental and physical health/well-being, a very broad range of questions, contexts, problems, and approaches are encouraged. For example: clinical, community, or student samples; quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-methods approaches; 'basic science' or 'clinical/applied' perspectives; newly collected data or novel approaches to archival data. Ideally, a successful paper will achieve two goals. First, it will speak to cultural psychologists, contributing to the study of a particular cultural context or contexts. Authors will be able to take advantage of the available space to provide an extended description of the cultural context(s) in which they work. Second, it will speak to clinical psychologists, contributing to the study of a particular issue in mental and physical health/well-being. Authors are particularly encouraged to address directly the ways in which their work promotes the integration of cultural and clinical psychology, highlighting how it goes beyond specific contexts or questions to speak to this broader research community. For example, authors might discuss how their theories, samples, methods, approaches to data, or interpretive frames might be applied beyond their specific project, to other cultural contexts and other clinical questions. The aim is not only to bring together a number of studies in this general area, but to capture some of the diversity that already exists among researchers in this field while developing a resource that will further promote innovation in cultural-clinical psychology.


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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