Psychotherapy has been defined as a situation comprising of elements such as a healing agent, a person who is seeking for relief, and a healing relationship that includes a structured series of contacts between healer and relief seeker. Provided with this definition, the most fundamental aspect of therapy will be dependent upon the quality of the relationship and the way it is used. So to add on the fundamental aspects of the healing process, the techniques, methods, and theoretical assumptions of the therapists are included as contributing factors.
So, is psychotherapy applicable in the Philippines?
To begin with, it would be better to dig deeper on how Filipinos understand and accept psychotherapy as part of the healing process when it comes to treating mental illness.
Sadly, In spite of these developments, the modern mental-health system remains poorly understood in the Philippines because of the low level of medical awareness of the population and the prevalence of alternatives to modern medicine like the indigenous forms of herbal healing or even cult healing practices. These factors, aggravated by a poor health-insurance system, and a social need for gainful employment, have reduced the need for formal institutes of psychotherapy and explain why the Philippines at the moment has no training analysts practicing such. Just by reviewing the Philippine disciplinary traits and beliefs plus being tagged as one of the Third World countries, employing psychotherapy may be hard to suggest to Filipinos as they have lots of excuses when it comes to modifying behavior and being subjected to psychotherapeutic treatments.
Dealing with the Filipino mentality, where having a mental illness or even just a disturbance is already considered an embarrassment not only to the person’s self but as well as the person’s family. Thus, fear of rejection comes in, resulting to deprivation of being given the appropriate therapy for the particular mental disturbance or even exasperating the said illness as it is being ignored and that the environment’s perception towards the person weighs heavier than the mental condition of the person.
Like any other countries, the Philippines has its own social issues. Talking about social issues, the country’s poverty is obviously at its high resulting to a lot of psychological issues like child labor and Juvenile delinquency. These are just a few but needs a lot of psychological attention to those who are victims of the said issues.
Sad to say that the Philippines is not fully equipped nor even prepared to accommodate this particular demand for there has been no bill yet that will recognize people who can conduct these practices, leaving all social workers to accept the responsibilities of taking care of the psychological demands for these victims.
To add up to this unfortunate happening, the social workers only take care of those issues that need immediate attention or those situations that already have a trend, leaving those minor circumstances that appear to be very private behind. That is if a situation will not fall under their considerations or qualifications that need their attention, they will not deal with it. Social workers in the Philippines handling these people are not sufficient for they do not employ the necessary techniques a therapist does plus the abilities in administering or facilitating it are mostly way too different compared to a real and effective therapist .
A very good example of this is a public school student who has been consistently rejected by other students, leaving that particular student alone and isolated. We may have guidance counseling offices in all schools. However, I believe we are pretty much aware how a public school guidance office looks like and how it actually works. Again, this will boil down to where the government allots budget for these kinds of scenarios. The need for such therapists may not still be in the rise in the country because it is still not visible yet. For some reasons, only a few people can afford such services but in what most documentaries show, there is a prevailing rise of need in some areas of the country that is even being ignored by the government, making the demand for therapeutic services low. Thus, a bill to put it into action is not becoming a priority and whatever domino effect it makes, unimportant.
So again, do Filipinos really need psychotherapy in order to manage their ego functioning in life? Let us see how Filipinos deal with their everyday lives. Most of the Filipinos laugh out on things, may it be a severe problem or not. It will not even show that these people are disturbed or needs professional help. Filipinos handle their problems with a laugh or even a joke. They also have this great belief in terms of religion. Christian and Muslim religion take over the whole archipelago. Whenever something is wrong, they go to church or any religious institution of their faith and ask for help. Once their problems, may it be psychological or not, they believe that it is because of faith or the strength of their faith. It is not that I am mocking religion when talking about therapeutic aids because I am a Catholic.
It is just so ironic for anyone to see if psychotherapy would be applicable in the Philippines or any country with a strong religious faith. It is not that easy to contend someone’s faith on the line, or being placed on a situation where both faith and psychotherapy will be asked to conduct assistance in terms of mental health. However, placing therapy’s importance in aiding Filipinos’ mental health is a part of human needs at this time. Employing it without neither crossing any bridge of contention of what religion or beliefs can do or cannot do nor placing it on the side is possible since seeking for therapeutic help is dependable on the willingness of the client.
Another challenge in the country is the presence of effective therapists. There may be some or a few but the ratio of figures is not sufficient because of the availability in terms of location. Training institutions are also not available in the country to hone people in this kind of profession, making it more complicated and even unaffordable for people who need the help. With these kinds of challenges, does it mean that the country really does not need such services? Can they do it by themselves? Can the social workers be enough? So as the bill for the actualization of the practice is not anymore needed?
Talking about counseling in the Philippine cultural context, where they are the only ones who received the licensed responsibility in conducting or practicing it in the Philippines lately. The history of counseling has been fashioned after the American model although there have been quite a few attempts since the 1970’s to evolve indigenous psychological concepts and methods. This is to hypothesize that the purely Western concepts and techniques may not be entirely suitable to Filipinos. It is therefore imperative that if Filipino counselors would work with the Filipino clients, the former must be “culturally aware.” It is just like buying imported clothes that do not fit the climate here. So counselors must become more culturally sensitive. Why is this so? Well, let us try to itemize some of the points: I believe that it is very important for counselors to know how the Filipinos view themselves. Filipinos have an emphasis on family ties and respect for authorities. They have self-control when it comes to revealing their emotions. They are courteous and friendly. They have this warm concern and sharing with others. Moreover, Filipinos’ mental health concepts mostly reveal will power, preoccupation with pleasant thoughts and importance of environmental stress.
We may be looking for the most appropriate approach to use to Filipinos when it comes to psychotherapy being used in the country. However, I would like to emphasize further the importance of characteristics of being an effective therapist since the curing factors will be coming from them as they facilitate their techniques and handle the therapeutic relationship across all therapy sessions. I have read certain articles that revealed highest percentage of responses was in the area of knowledgeable, followed by appealing personal attributes, powerful, concern for others and availability. With these kinds of revelations, clients’ expectations are considered as a variable in the Filipinos’ choice of counselors.
There may be an underlying effect when using these variables to understand why Filipino clients have these kinds of qualifying considerations. Once more, this will bounce back to culture-sensitivity.
As for the appropriate approach for Filipinos, I give my vote to the humanistic and behavioral approaches that would accentuate uniqueness, independence, self-reliance, and personal resources for solving problems. I would really like to stress independence and self-reliance since Filipinos are mostly procrastinator and dependent for I have seen a lot of documentary films showing a lot of Filipinos hollering their complaints for living a miserable life. I view them as people who are deprived and people depriving their selves to something that could help them by just simply using an open eye.
However, I understand that it is still easy saying it than doing it and that as you stay with them longer, you will understand why they keep on screaming their miseries out loud. I once thought of using their own anxiety to help them come out of their senses and have them realized that life is a challenging gift. As time evolves, behavior flows with it as well. There will always be changes and modifications to be encountered that can impinge on psychotherapy and counseling in the Philippines. Filipino discipline is always one of those fixations that can trigger anyone’s design to come up with an offering or even create a hint to someone generate another fashion of psychotherapy or counseling approach. My bet should be a Filipino this time so as to really fit the culture and craze in this country that would somehow create a Filipino fashion of psychotherapy and an institution that will welcome anyone who wants to be certified in practicing it.