Dissertation Title:

A Qualitative Investigation of Traditional Healers: Reclaiming Mesoamerican Healing Practices in Psychotherapy


Edgar Garcia

Date, Time & Place:

August 10, 2023 at 10:00 am


The purpose of this study was to explore and understand the clinical relevance of ancient Mesoamerican healing practices with the overall aim of creating a hybrid model of psychotherapy. This study utilized Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) to interview three Toltec healing practitioners about their lived experiences, including their perspectives on healing, illness, spirituality, and psychological suffering. The analysis revealed four superordinate themes and three superordinate themes. These themes, which included both indigenous worldviews and specific ritual and ceremonial healing practices, were utilized to envision a hybrid model of psychotherapy. This hybrid model of psychotherapy incorporates both traditional healing practices and contemporary Western psychological interventions, but ultimately leaves the direction of the therapy to the client. It was also recommended that the impact of colonialism on identity and cultural heritage be discussed in the therapeutic context, as well as possibilities for reclaiming parts of one’s heritage that my have been lost due to acculturation and colonialism.

  • Program/Track/Year: Clinical Psychology with Emphasis in Depth Psychology, A, 2016
  • Chair: Dr. Jeffrey Grant
  • Reader: Dr. Mark Montijo
  • External Reader: Dr. Joseph Cervantes
  • Keywords: Indigenous Psychology, Mesoamerican, Toltec, Healing Practices, Hybrid Psychotherapy, Curandero