The Practice of Curanderismo: A Qualitative Study from the Perspectives of Curandera/os


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Curandera/os are practitioners who heal individuals through specialized knowledge of herbs, massage, bone setting, counseling, spirituality, and midwifery. This study focused on Curandera/os who have worked with Mexican and Mexican American communities in California. The aim of this study was to elucidate the philosophical framework and the practices of Curanderismo from the perspectives of Curandera/os themselves, in order to educate mainstream mental health professionals and aid them in becoming more culturally attuned to the underserved population of immigrant Latina/os from Mexico and Central America. A qualitative, phenomenological approach was used to analyze interviews with 8 Curandera/os. The results present a theoretical framework of health and illness in Curanderismo focused on themes of spirit, connection, balance, and mind-body; an additional theme illustrated perspectives on how clients improve, including faith in the practice, a strong relationship with the client, believing in the energy from the healer, uncovering remedies from early childhood, and connecting the client with the healing elements (e.g., medicinal plants). Eight major tenets are presented to explain the principles Curandera/os use to guide their practice. Finally, specific treatments were identified, including that of susto, a condition described as a damaged, frightened, spirit. A common sentiment among the Curandera/os was the experience of feeling marginalized and silenced by mainstream professionals. Thus, mental health providers are urged to understand the importance that traditional healers place on religion and spirituality and the significance of tending to the spirit for the many immigrant Latina/o clients.

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