Social work students spent four days in a rural community in the state of Morelos to learn about the role of social workers from rural Mexican contexts. Many members of the community embrace many different forms of traditional healing to treat—what western society may label—physical diseases, mental disorders, and pregnancies. Or, community members use traditional healing simply to build one’s spirit and heighten attention to one’s internal state of affairs.
|"Photo of a Temazcal--|
students went inside in groups of 8-9
You may ask why are social work students participating in what many—especially in today’s world—would label “outdated” or “strange” healing practices? In order to meet a diversity of clients where they are, social workers must understand the importance of traditional healing customs. The best way to understand such customs—an important piece of many indigenous cultures—is to participate in them. Students can work in their future careers to integrate traditional healing methods into the medical model. For many, the western medical model alone does not suffice as a viable intervention to meet the needs of clients. As noted by Marsiglia, & Kulis (2009), social workers, when appropriate, can collaborate and partner with native practitioners of culturally appropriate ceremonies and rituals in order to integrate them into medical treatment plans. Furthermore, as “practitioners become exposed to other cultures, their interactions, presence, and privilege become part of the cultural diversity experience” (p. 30). Students can use this experience at the Temazcal and the Limpia to promote liberation—instead of oppression—of future clients. Social work students extend a special thanks to the community that opened up their houses, cultural practices and hearts to the students studying at the Center for Global Education in Latin America.