An introduction to Russian: History, culture, and psychotherapy. Elms College
Maxim M. Arbuzov
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.
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. 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.
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...
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