An overview of rituals in Western therapies and intervention: Argument for their use in cross-cultural therapy Academic Article uri icon


  • This paper deals with the use of ritual in Western therapy. The first part provides an overview of the attitude towards and use of rituals in psychoanalysis, Jungian therapy, existential psychotherapy, strategic psychotherapy, pastoral counselling, and social work. It shows how the ambivalence that was characteristic of early theory and intervention gave way not only to the acceptance of ritual as a therapeutic tool but to the positive recognition of its usefulness. The second part of the paper argues for the incorporation of rituals in the mental health care of clients from traditional, non-Western cultures. It contends that in addition to the recognized therapeutic value of rituals, in cross-cultural therapy they may have the advantage of inducing clients who might otherwise reject the intervention to accept it and of improving collaboration between client and practitioner.

publication date

  • January 1, 1999