Final Thought

Despite the importance of considering cultural variables in clinical practices, too much emphasis on these variables may prevent practitioners from considering symptoms as indicative of a severe psychiatric disorders. This emphasis could not only lead to misdiagnosis of real psychiatric disorders but it may also result in turning clients over to folk healers for treatment under the assumption that what the client is experiencing is a set of culturally related symptoms resembling a given DSM-1V disorder, which cannot be treated by mental health professionals. As noted by Westermeyer (1993), turning multicultural clients over to folk healers because the presenting symptoms are examples of a culture-related condition may lead to a major error in clinical practices. The assumption here is that, when working with culturally diverse clients in mental health services, overdiagnosis, underdiagnosis, and misdiagnosis of psychopathological conditions could be prevented by emphasizing a combination of cross-cultural assessment strategies (e.g., the DSM-IV outline for Cultural Formulation) and traditional psychiatric or psychological evaluations (Castillo, 1997; Lonner, & Ibrahim, 1996; Pope-Davis & Coleman, 1997).

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