An Immense Need, Not Enough Time

Posted on August 16,2011 by latinomentalhealth

Hola a todos,

Lauren Utter and Tessa Kramer here again reporting to you in our last week in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Last week we had the opportunity to diversify our clinical work in the field. We spent four days consulting with patients at a medical clinic in an impoverished area of Guayaquil and making home visits to patients with physical disabilities. This experience increased our understanding of some of the medical, psychiatric, and daily living conditions faced by those that are socioeconomically disadvantaged in Ecuador.

We worked with patients of all ages, conducting both individual and family sessions. Patients presented with a variety of concerns, including relational difficulties within the family, behavioral complaints, economic distress, and a wide range of psychiatric symptoms.

Although we were only able to provide the patients with a single session, we worked to construct concrete coping strategies and behavioral modification plans. Additionally, we encouraged the patients to utilize their existing support systems and take advantage of untapped resources within themselves and the community.

Working in a busy medical setting was an invaluable experience. We were able to formulate cases using a multidisciplinary approach, working alongside the clinic's gynecologist, dentist, family practitioner, and medical director. It was rewarding to work with other professionals who value the mind-body connection.

Visiting patients in their homes provided us with a more comprehensive understanding of poverty in Ecuador. This method of outreach helps to identify and treat many whom would not otherwise receive care. Even in this small community, we were surprised to learn that many residents were unaware of the clinic's location and services. Overall, the home visits were a unique experience, as psychologists do not often see their patients' living conditions first-hand.

Fortunately, we were able to refer some of the patients that may benefit from longer-term treatment. Given the lack of resources, we hope that some of the more concerning cases will receive the necessary medical and psychological care.

We found our experiences in the medical clinic and surrounding community to be very rewarding and worthwhile.

Cuidense mucho,

Lauren and Tessa