An Introduction to Russian: History, Culture, and Psychotherapy

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An introduction to Russian: History, culture, and psychotherapy. Elms College Maxim M. Arbuzov Spring 2012 Abstract: On March 15, 2012, I landed in Vladivostok, Russia. I was amazed by the diversity and fast growth of the city since my last visit in 2006. Everything has changed the population has quickly grown, and people from around the world are visiting this place that is economically expanding. I seen family, friends, and professionals, which all knew my academic intentions. I talked a lot about social work and counseling, and more specifically: what would they do in times of crisis? Would they seek help?

Where? I interviewed a few people in different generational categories, and they all had the same thing to say, for some odd reason; grab a bottle, head over to your best friends house, that is our therapy session! Therefore my questions all sprouted from one underdeveloped and not heavily researched topic: the role of psychotherapy/counseling in Russia. Introduction It is rather difficult to understand the status of psychotherapy in Russia nowadays without the historical and cultural contexts. Russia among other nations has a long history of war and revolutions, which impacted every sphere of life.

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Different nations fell under the umbrella of the former “Soviet Union”, which is why Russia is such an interesting country to study because of the vast diversity. Along with diversity the most interesting part researching Russian Psychotherapy is that it is rare and has many limitations because of the past ideology. History Russia is a vey interesting nation consisting of a variety of ethnicities, when it was formerly known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) from 1922-1991, Russia took over other countries from eastern Europe expanding it’s political grasp.

In effect The Soviet Union became a very ethnically diverse country, with more than one hundred various ethnic groups. (Culture, p. 338) According to a 1990 estimate, the majority were Russians (50. 79%), followed by Ukrainians (15. 49%) and Uzbeks (5. 80%) (CIA) To understand Russia you need to understand international countries as well, most shockingly amongst all the countries of the world the most similar is United States. And was for the last half a century in comparison to Russia is has very alike similarities and yet very drastically different histories.

If we explain the United States as a constantly changing nation in terms of ethnicity, politics, and economy; Russia in comparison is revolutionary, from the start of communism to the long decades of the Cold War and ultimately the fall of the Berlin wall. Which led to harsh economic difficulties in rural and urban areas throughout the country, this nation experienced vast changes in the last two decades. “The fall of the Soviet Union resulted in extraordinary changes in the lives of millions of people. These changes have been especially significant for the field of counseling” (O. Yakushenko, T. Razzhavaikana, S.

Horne, p. 337) Psychology as a science was well developed in Russia in its pre-revolution and soviet era, which lasted from 1917-1991. (pp. 339) Throughout the 70+ years of Communsim a lot of factors influenced psychotherapy and its role in the in the mental health system. Russia had a secular and very materialistic/didactic view of life in the academia. This sprouted from the two trends in societ psychotherapy: Physiological/Pavlovian and Social/Mar xist psychotherapy. But psychotherapy and counseling were view as applied subjects, leading to academies concentrating on psychology as a medical/biological science.

Counseling and psychotherapy were not commonly available or sought out in soviet times. (pp. 339) This is understandable since, “during the Soviet era, individuals with mental illness were treated soley by psychiatrists within a medical setting. ” (Daw, 2002) The primary setting for mental health services was medical, and it was controlled by psychiatry (Roth, 1994). This also lead to long history of Russian institutionalization in Russia. Not only were mental patients locked up in Soviet institutions, but also, religious, political, and strong academic figures.

This ultimately lead to the population not trusting the mental health field as a whole. Culture Today’s population is deeply affected by the aftermath of Communism. Even though it is long gone, Russians tend to speak of it quiet often. Especially the older population, but when they talk of it, they tend to not say much about the suffering rather more about lacking. “Under the Soviet Regime, ethnic Russians sometimes enjoyed certain advantages over other ethnic groups, particularly if they lived in urban centers, where health care, housing, income, and cultural arts were generally better than in other areas”.

() Russia in comparison to the U. S. has many common conflicts within its society. For example: The discrimination of sex, ethnicity, and race. Interestingly the gender roles in both countries began to change after the 1970-80’s. () The arrival of psychoanalysis in Russia has attracted much attention from Russian literature. Viewing literature as a centrality in Russian culture, it is fairly evident why psychodynamic type therapies are very accepted in the Russian community, unlike any therapies.

Even with the general tendency of Russians accepting Freud’s ideas and western thought this has not resulted in a rapid change in tendencies and attitudes toward seeking professional help. Russians from all generations soviet and post-soviet hold negative stereotypes of mental health services and may not choose counseling or psychotherapy as a valuable and appropriate option to deal with their emotional and relational concerns. () Russians as a whole are collectivistic and very family oriented. They also share worldviews that distinguish them uniquely from individuals from around the world (Culture, p.

338) Russians rend to be very superstitious and very attuned to eastern thought (Buddhism, indigenous practices). For example, most Russia newspapers and some journals include sections on old-type healing methods on issues such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and relational concerns (Yakushko, 2005). Also Russians tend to follow horoscopes and fortune telling One reason that may explain the Russians perceptions of psychotherapy are the demographical patterns they follow through the generations.

Most of the population stays tied to their cities and homes, and it is even common for several generations of families to live together. Psychotherapy The Communist Party regarded Psychotherapy as incompatible with the Marxist spirit of scientific materialism, especially if it came from the west. Russian’s have a long history of psychology and changes within it. Russian psychologists had a very moving influence on the United States and in effect the world with the introduction of behaviorism. Sadly enough, communism refuted any need for applied psychology, after it was named “against communist ideals” by the dictator.

From they’re on then psychology, especially from the west was a taboo subject, and scientists had to buy books from abroad through a black market. () Ever since the collapse of the soviet union in 1991, interest in psychotherapy has been booming in the academia. But it sill is usually a subsection or an addiction to a major like, Psychobiology and not an actual major itself. Russia still holds psychiatrists as the primary source for metnal health management. Psychiatry holds the same movement as well the psychosomatic treatments of psychological difficulties. (Roth, 1994) Russia currently has a growing interest in psychotherapy.

It has many private retreat camps “sanatoria” and private offices linked with universities that provide various fomrs of psychotherapy. Even though Russia is fairly young in the practice of western psychotherapy (freely) is it linking past soviet-era practice based and research based evidence into their literature. Interst in behavioral and cognitive modification therapies has decreased, and new schools that emphasize psychoanalytic, jugian, transpersonal, Gestalt, humanistic, neurolinguistic programming (NLP), body-focused, art, and music therapies have been highly popular (Havenaar et al.

, 1998; Sosland, 1997). According to various texts by many authors on psychotherapy in Russia and including research done by T. A. Karavaeca currently Russian psychotherapy is dominated by rational psychotherapy (RT) RT was developed by Behterov This is a form of psychotherapy, which employs logic, reason, and explanation, but may use indirect suggestions and emotional influence. It is very much like cognitive therapy. The second most chosen form of therapy is personality-oriented therapy (reconstructive).

Even though these therapies are prominent it is very evident that the works of freud has a great impact on Russian psychotherapy, practice, and thought. “No licensing regulations exist” (p. 341) In, addition, the public continues to lack information about counseling as a field, and the field itself tends to suffer from a lack of organization, structure, laws, and regulations. (p. 341) Recently attempts have been made to unite psychotherapeutic forces. It is a difficult mission. On the one hand, the difficulties are connected with a rather complicated situation in the country.

On the other hand, many people have no incentive for unification. Associations, representing different directions in PT, work independently and psychotherapists do not at all suffer from luck of laws and regulations; on the contrary, they are using the situation where there are no rules and everybody does what they want. Neither the Russian Psychotherapeutic Association, nor the Professional Psychotherapeutic League, which is being formed now, have gathered enough members to be representative in the country References Daw 2002

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