People who live in the villas (i.e., slums) of Buenos Aires are confronted with poverty, poor and dangerous living conditions, and discrimination. Ten weeks were spent in the villas delivering a program designed to enhance life satisfaction and self-worth through games and the development of mental skills. The purpose of this paper is not to report on the content or the effectiveness of the program, but rather to explore the variables within Argentina and the villas as well as my own cultural biases that may have influenced the delivery of a psychological intervention program. Argentine factors include a high prevalence of psychologists and a psychoanalytic focus. Characteristics of the villas include environmental factors (e.g., transportation issues, sanitation), logistical issues (e.g., venues, access to writing implements), and psychological matters (e.g., hopelessness, different perceptions of confidence). Practitioner concerns included limited familiarity with life in the villas and having values that might be different from those of the participants. The discussion includes recommendations for others who are considering working in similar cultural and contextual situations.
The author is with the Schools of Human Movement Studies and Psychology at The University of Queensland, Queensland, Australia.