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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Helping relationships in Portuguese Canadian communities Morrison, Marie


A qualitative study using ethnographic methods was conducted within the Portuguese Canadian community to describe how individuals engage in helping relationships related to personal or emotional problems. Using Spradley’s (1979) Developmental Research Sequence (DRS), participant observation, informal group interviews, and formal individual interviews were conducted with Portuguese community members and helpers. Ten informants of Portuguese descent were interviewed. Research codes and domain structures were subjected to participant checks, peer review, and expert review in order to establish the credibility and trustworthiness of this study. Ten domains were described as follows: Reliance on Family; Focus on Physical Ailments; Using Substances and Gambling to Cope with Problems; Accessing the Portuguese Community to Prevent or Cope with Problems; Receiving Help from the Church; Using Forms of Traditional Healing; Accessing Help through Family Physicians; Help Outside the Community; Reasons for Seeking Professional Help; and Barriers to Seeking Help. Cultural themes that arose from the domains were Cultural Rules for Disclosure in Different Contexts, Role Clarity, and Fatalism. This study contributes to counselling psychology research in the following ways: 1) by providing a thick description of helping relationships in the Portuguese community, a topic that has not previously been present in the counselling psychology literature; 2) by presenting barriers to counselling and reasons for seeking counselling that are specific to this population; and 3) by describing aspects of the therapeutic relationship which are culturally relevant to this group. These descriptions provide an easily accessible resource enabling mental health care providers to interact with Portuguese immigrants in a culturally safer and ii more competent manner. This study with a difficult-to-reach population serves as an example of learning to improve or modify mental health services to meet specific cultural contexts.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada