The Columns

Science, Society and the Arts Presents: Batsheva Honig ‘17 A passion for asking questions has led Batsheva Honig ‘17 from America to Argentina to study women’s health in both countries.

— by on March 17th, 2017

“SSA fabulously blends the liberal arts tradition by allowing students to attend a talk in biology, then history, then arts and back again.”

Meet Batsheva Honig ‘17, whose passion for asking questions has led her from America to Argentina to study women’s health in both countries

Science, Society, and the Arts is a multi-disciplinary conference where Washington and Lee undergraduates and law students present their academic achievements before an audience of their peers and the faculty. Through the conference, students, faculty and staff alike have the opportunity to explore new topics and discuss new ideas. Conference participants share their work via oral presentations, traditional academic conference-style panels, poster sessions, artistic shows, creative performances, or various other methods.

Even though SSA has ended, you can still enjoy these stories about the many interesting projects and performances being presented by the students.

Motivations to Use Psychological Therapies: A Cross Cultural Comparison

Q. Can you describe your project?

For this study, I looked at the motivations for young women to use psychological therapies in both the U.S. and in Argentina. I am interested in analyzing the personal and norm-based motivations to use therapy. I am proposing a model wherein stigma acts as a moderator between the relationship of motivation and openness to psychological therapies as seen cross-culturally.

Q. What about the topic made you explore it?

During Winter Term of 2016, I studied abroad in Argentina. While there, I was given the incredible opportunity to conduct my own research on a topic of my choice. After living in Buenos Aires for three months, I became fascinated with the common use and language surrounding psychological therapies there. Interestingly enough, Argentina is the world leader in the number of psychologists per habitants. This number is heavily concentrated in the city of Buenos Aires, where there are 83 people per one psychologist. The study I conducted in Argentina was an exploratory study that was qualitative in nature. When I returned to the U.S., I wanted to continue my work to better understand the role of culture in the acceptance of mental health services such as 
psychological therapy.

Q. What was the most interesting thing you have learned while working on this project?

It is very interesting how culture colors our understanding of the world. Even in creating the survey for this project, I had to be mindful of the wording I chose because some words take on very different significance in different cultures.

For example, in Argentina, the language of mental health and illness is very different as compared to the U.S. Even in legal government documents, the word “mental disorder” is not used, but rather “mental illness.” This language signifies that a person is more than their pathology and that mental health is in a constant state of change and we should not define people with labels that can be limiting and stigmatizing. This is done to place emphasis on providing people with the help they need while also respecting their rights as individuals.

I also was fascinated by the notion that therapy, in Argentina, is not seen as a service exclusively for individuals with a diagnosed mental illness. Rather, therapy is seen as tool of reflection and introspection to enhance one’s quality of life.

Q. What was the biggest challenge you faced?

Surprisingly, getting participants from Argentina. In the previous study I conducted there, I was able to get 70 participants in two weeks. It has been a much slower process this time around.

Q. What insight – or insights – did you gain during the research period?

It was incredibly rewarding to take ownership of an idea that was my own, develop a research question, execute a plan and carry out the assignment objectives. I am thankful for the help and support of W&L, my professors and my contacts here and in Argentina.

Q. What is your favorite part of creating, researching, or developing this project?
The research possibilities are truly endless. There is so much yet to be explored and so much research to be expounded upon. My favorite part is understanding what research is currently being conducted and where the field could benefit from more work.

Q. What does SSA mean to you?
To me, SAA is a forum where my peers and I have the opportunity to present our work and engage with one another. Ultimately, this is a time to be proud of the fruits of our hard work, take pride in our accomplishments and be enriched by sharing our knowledge with one another.

Q. Why is SSA – considering science, society, and arts together – important to this campus?
SSA embodies the value of a liberal arts education. It is a forum that fabulously blends the liberal arts tradition by allowing students to attend a talk in biology, then history, then arts and back again. My experience at W&L has definitely been enhanced by the presence of SSA. It is uplifting to attend a conference with so much diversity of topics and student engagement.

Do you know an exceptional student? Someone passionate?
Someone involved? Do you want to see their face on a My W&L profile? Why not nominate them?