It was finally time to go down and visit Jesucita. Her husband arrived, took off his straw vaquero hat, shook our hands, and very formally and graciously invited us to sit down and have a cup of coffee with him. He was an iron-back man, not tall, but erect and strong; his hands were thick and solid as oak burls. We learned that he was a horse-breaker from the interior of Mexico, a real cowboy who took pride in his talents ... It was a lovely moment. The weak coffee, the formal and serious cowboy, the children, and Jesucita, hovering over us. She broke a small loaf of sweet bread into pieces and made us eat. It was also a fearsome moment -- the water that went into making the coffee was surely polluted, runoff from the miasma above. A great deal of disease infested the area from the constant flooding and the scattered bodies of dead animals. To refuse their hospitality would have been the ultimate insult, yet to eat and drink put us at risk. Von had the grim set in his lips that said, Here we go again, and with a glance at us, he took a sip. We drank. ‘-Ah’ We exulted. ‘Delicioso!’ Jesucita beamed. The cowboy nodded gravely, dipped his bit of sweet bread in his cup, and toasted us with it." Across the Wire: Life and Hard Times on the Mexican Border by Luis Alberto Urrea
Hospitality and Liberation Psychology
Ignacio Martín Baro, one of the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador and pioneer in the field of Liberation Psychology urges us to leave the "offices" where we practice. He writes in "Towards a Psychology of Liberation":
What is needed is for our most basic assumptions in psychological thought to be revised from the bottom up. But this revision cannot be made from our offices; it has to come from a praxis that is committed to the poor.
Mental Model When we leave our wards and our offices to participate in liberating service, we carry with us Mental Models of office- or clinic-based service. Many of us were trained in a distorted version of the Medical Model. So our first instinct is to transport a HOSPITAL MODEL of service. In the distorted version of the Medical Model, the primary relationship is a unilateral one between STAFF and PATIENT. The terms used to describe models of mental-health service include: INPATIENT; PARTIAL HOSPITALIZATION; OUTPATIENT.
The HOSPITALITY MODEL, on the other hand, is a reciprocal relationship between GUEST and HOST.
The Hospitality Model can be best translated in Latin Cultures. In Latin, the word "Hospes", from which comes our word "Hospitality", means both guest and host. So, easily from the lips comes the promise to a friend or even an associate: "Mi Casa Es Su Casa." ("My House is Your House").
A NEW INTERVENTION STYLE
The word "Therapy" comes from the Greek "Theraps", meaning "to serve". The Hospitality Model of Liberating Service includes changes in dynamics: * Hospitality (opening doors/entering someone else's domain) is an act of shared vulnerability. The Hospitality Model fosters Intimacy and Reciprocity. * The Hospitality Model evens out the sense of differential power. There is a big difference between power and control. In Spanish, the noun for power is "Poder". Used as a verb, "Poder" means "to be able". Control, on the other hand, is an illusion maintained by the assumptions one makes based on role and environment. The Hospitality model never holds control; it holds opportunities to broaden horizons and make use of resources. * The hospitality model requires us to balance our role as a professional and as a guest. As guest, we respect the authority that exists in the home. We cannot demand the family change its whole home life to accomodate our delimited time with a them. As a professional, we may tactfully take the lead in the nature and process of the interaction. Mainly, we facilitate search for a common ground to build a sense of reciprocity and shared purpose.
The "toolbox" for the hospitality model has different components. "Coffee drinking" may be a way to ritualize the therapeutic event. Sharing a picture album provides us with landmarks of events that are positive and evoke stories of potential strengths. The wisdom of elders is acknowledged and respected.
In the hospitality model, professional boundaries need to include considerations of the culture. Asking about cultural differences shows interest, and gives people the opportunity to talk and feel respected. In Latino families, there will be no intervention unless you pay attention to the social niceties.