Academic journal article Journal of Marital and Family Therapy

Critical Patriotism: Incorporating Nationality into Mft Education and Training

Academic journal article Journal of Marital and Family Therapy

Critical Patriotism: Incorporating Nationality into Mft Education and Training

Article excerpt

Topics such as national identity, patriotism, nationalism, and international issues often lead to polarization within the United States and as a result, critical dialogue about these complex topics often does not occur in a meaningful way. The lack of critical inquiry and interaction about these topics is manifest at the macro and the micro level, including within the context of marriage and family therapy training and practice. While the field of MFT has devoted greater attention to addressing issues of diversity in recent years, limited attention has been focused on examining nationality and nationalism. This article presents a critical patriotism framework that training programs can use to examine nationality and expand awareness of international issues and perspectives. Special attention is focused on examining how nationalism, a problematic extreme version of patriotism, infiltrates MFT training and practice. Recommendations are provided for how training programs can focus on nationality, expand awareness of international issues and perspectives, and guide trainees in exploring how their national identity, beliefs about patriotism, and nationalistic attitudes may influence their clinical work.

We live in a world that is both expanding and shrinking at the same time. The expansion is reflected in the unprecedented and alarming rate with which the global human population is growing, recently surpassing 7 billion. Yet, at the same time, accelerating migration rates and rapid technological and communications advancements are shrinking the world by bringing people into closer interaction in ways that were unimaginable even a few decades ago. As the boundaries that once limited contact across national borders continue to soften, a growing number of international students will be educated within the U.S. at large, and within mental health training programs specifically. Mental health professionals also will be called on more frequently to provide services to international communities that are living both within the U.S. and abroad. Consequently, it will be important to consider the impact of nationality and international issues and perspectives on approaches to clinical training and practice. This article examines the influence of U.S. values on the field of marriage and family therapy. A critical patriotism framework is presented to outline how training programs can focus trainees' attention on issues of national identity, expand awareness of international issues and perspectives, and examine how nationalistic attitudes and beliefs may shape trainees' clinical work.

NATIONALITY AS A DIMENSION OF DIVERSITY

Marital and family therapy training and education has made many important strides with respect to focusing on issues of diversity including gender (Goldner, 1985; Hare-Mustin, 1978; Knudson-Martin, 1997; McGoldrick & Hardy, 2008); class (Aponte, 1987, 1994), ethnicity (McGoldrick, Giordano & Garcia-Preto, 2005); race (Hardy & Laszloffy, 1992, 1994; Laszloffy & Hardy, 2000; McGoldrick, 1998; McGoldrick & Hardy, 2008); and sexual orientation (Green & Mitchell, 2002; Long & Serovich, 2003; Stone Fish & Harvey, 2005). Yet a dearth of attention is devoted to examining how these factors intersect with nationality in MFT training and practice (Platt, 2012).

The relative inattention to issues of nationality may in part be related to the fact that the field originated in and has been heavily dominated by the United States. Given that the majority of MFTs in the world are from the United States, asking them to consider the influence of nationality on clinical practice is like asking white people to consider how race informs their therapy with other white people. The ultimate benefit of privilege is not having to recognize your privilege. Hence, those who have power based on a given dimension of diversity are often blind to their power and the privilege it breeds. Given the power and privilege that the United States has in relation to other nations, it can be difficult for those who are from the United States to recognize how their nationality shapes their values, beliefs, and behaviors and to recognize the privilege and ensuing benefits that their nationality affords them. …

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