Healing Practices of Azorean Immigrants: Implications for Practitioners in North America

Therapists in BC need to develop culturally sensitive mental health services to reflect the changing demographics of BC’s population and better serve immigrant clients. This is especially important because research has shown that immigrants simultaneously use traditional healers from their country of origin and local health care services to alleviate symptoms of illness. More than 30,000 BC residents report Portuguese origins. Birdie Bezanson is studying the beliefs, values and methods of traditional Portuguese healers in BC and the Azores Islands in Portugal, and the implications for local practitioners in multicultural counselling. Clinical practices and healing processes develop within and reflect particular cultures and value systems. Birdie is examining the interface between traditional and clinical methods of dealing with distress to develop a more comprehensive understanding of healing and well-being. This research is directed at informing the development of culturally sensitive treatment alternatives that will enable local practitioners to accommodate the needs of Portuguese clients and other immigrant communities in the province.