Teaching Cultural Humility: Understanding Others by Reflecting on Ourselves

  • Carissa Cabán-AlemánEmail author
  • Jordanne King
  • Auralyd Padilla
  • Jeanie Tse


Culture plays a key role in defining the predisposing, precipitating, perpetuating, and protective factors of illness etiology, which in turn drive treatment planning. Cultural humility is a concept by which providers can become more aware of the unique cultures of patients and communities, shifting away from a limited definition of culture as a finite body of ethnographic information to be mastered. This concept provides a framework for providers to develop empathy skills by continuously reflecting on their own biases, recognizing power dynamics and developing respectful partnerships with their patients and communities, which helps address the structural inequities that potentiate illness and impact recovery. The options, challenges, and limitations of teaching clinicians to practice cultural humility are explored, with some suggestions for curricular components.


Culture Humility Self-reflection Power imbalance Patient-focused care Social determinants 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carissa Cabán-Alemán
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jordanne King
    • 2
  • Auralyd Padilla
    • 3
  • Jeanie Tse
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral HealthHerbert Wertheim College of Medicine, Florida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  2. 2.Florida International University – Citrus Health Network Psychiatry Residency ProgramHialeahUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA
  4. 4.New York University School of Medicine and ICL, Inc.New YorkUSA

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