Papers from the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology Conferences

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The disastrous earthquake of 12 May, 2008 had its greatest impact on the Qiang people, an ethnic minority living in the mountainous regions of Sichuan at the earthquake’s epicentre. Over 80,000 people died, over a million were injured or missing, most buildings collapsed and most homes were demolished under the avalanches. Thousands of children were evacuated to safety, some moved to far distant locations. The research team from the University of Newcastle responded to the plea of the Qiang leaders to help the children. In cooperation with the China-Australia Centre for Cross-Cultural Studies, a three stage psycho-cultural research program was devised, comprising a survey of children’s current caregivers, interviews with the children, and development of a culturally appropriate rehabilitation scheme. Shuguang Wang was appointed to coordinate the project. This paper discusses the research issues involved. Of paramount importance was the collectivist nature of the Qiang culture and the traditional ways of dealing with disasters. Theoretical issues related to the relevance of western individualistic psychological and psychiatric approaches to therapy in the Qiang collectivist environment. Methodological problems related to developing appropriate measuring instruments, and preparing guidelines and training programs for local Qiang interviewers and volunteers.

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