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Espiritismo (spiritism) is a wide spread religious practice among Puerto Ricans in Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans in the United States. Espiritismo has been found to be effective in healing people and having similar effects with clients in counseling and psychotherapy. Puerto Rican espiritismo is a syncretism belief system that combines pre-Columbian, African, Catholic, and European spiritual-religious practices into one system to fulfill the spiritual needs as well as the psychocultural needs of the Puerto Rican people. Implications and suggestions are also provided for counselors wanting to use espiritismo in their practices with Puerto Rican clients.
Keywords: Religious practices; spiritism; folklore.
Espiritismo es una práctica religiosa muy amplia entre puertorriqueños en Puerto Rico y los puertorriqueño en los Estados Unidos. Espiritismo se ha encontrado ser efectivo en como terapia curativa en personas con problema psicológicos y de tener efectos terapéuticos semejantes a los de psicoterapia y consejería. El espiritismo puertorriqueño es un sistema sincrético de los sistemas de creencias que combina las practicas espiritual-religiosa del las culturas pre-colombiana, africana, católica, y europeas en un solo sistema para satisfacer las necesidades espirituales así como las necesidades psico-culturales de los puertorriqueños. Implicaciones y las sugerencias son proporcionadas para los profesionales de la salud mental que quieren utilizar el espiritismo en sus prácticas con clientes puertorriqueños.
Palabras clave: Practicas religiosas; espiritismo; folklore
The use of indigenous and native healing practices has been given a great deal of attention in the multicultural counseling field in the last ten years (Brawer, Handal, Fabricatore, Roberts, & Wajda-Johnston, 2002; Sue & Sue, 2003). However, much of that attention has been concentrated in working with American Indians (Garrett, 1998; Garrett & Garrett, 2002; Herring, 1997; Pope, 2002). While the attention given to the use of folk healing techniques with various ethnic groups in mental health settings since the early 1980s has not been without criticism, only small amounts of information have been written about the use of native healing practices with Latinos (Comas-Díaz, 1981; Jorge, 1995; Loeb Adler, & Mukherji, 1995; Núñez Molina, 1989; Richards & Bergin, 2000; Zea, Mason, & Murguía, 2000). A review of the literature indicates that most of the work done on this subject in reference to Latinos has been conducted specifically with Cubans and Santeria (Altarriba & Bauer, 1998) or both. Although, the subject needs to expand on Puerto Ricans in the mental health field, the three most recent works about the subject include one book chapter with a small segment on espiritismo (spiritism), another book concentrating on Puerto Rican women as healers, and an article about the botánicas in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic (Delgado & Santiago,1998; Koss-Chioino, 1992; Zea, Mason, & Murguía, 2000).
The use of espiritismo has been identified as an alternative treatment approach when working with Puerto Ricans in mental health settings (Comas-Díaz, 1981; Harwood, 1987; Koss, 1975; Morales-Dorta, 1976; Jorge, 1995; Rogler & Hollingshead, 1960; Zea, Mason, & Murguía, 2000). The importance of the subject in the mental health of Puerto Ricans has been well documented in the Coleción de Puerto Rico at the library of the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez campus. This collection contains a number of small articles referring to the influence of the Catholic faith in the use and practice of espiritismo among Puerto Ricans (de Armas, 1979; Núñez Molina, 1991a, 1991b).
For Puerto Ricans the use of espiritismo is an important part of their religious faith that provides an important source of emotional support (Altarriba & Bauer, 1998; Comas-Díaz, 1981). The flywheel, a wheel that moderates the fluctuation and speed in a machine, is a metaphor to illustrate espiritismo as an ethnocultural faith that maintains balance among four different cultures. Puerto Rican espiritismo has not only dealt with opposing religious beliefs, but cultures as well (if the United States invasion in 1848 is included). Espiritismo is not a new phenomenon as illustrated in a 1972 survey conducted by the most read newspaper in Puerto Rico at the time, "El Mundo," which indicated that …