Acculturation / Cultural Integration

Acculturation / Cultural Integration

We tend to move country due to a variety of reasons: New job opportunities for ourselves or a family member, to join a partner, in search of something new, or in order to escape something old. An initial period of adjustment is needed by everyone. The initial ‘honeymoon’ phase may move into phases of culture stress, culture irritation and culture fatigue. However, sometimes adjustment to the new culture can become problematic. The move may not live up to expectations and ‘culture shock’ and a loss of relatedness both to others and ourselves are experienced. It may take longer than expected to learn the language and each conversation is a struggle as misunderstandings appear to be pre-programmed. Feelings of hostility, fear, isolation and ‘not fitting in’ or a loss of self-esteem and competence may emerge. Instead of feeling secure and safe and being able to trust their own instincts, some feel anxious, fearful and vulnerable. A sense of ‘not-belonging’ accompanies some throughout their new day-to-day lives. For some this can lead to anger which in time can turn to resentment, bitterness. Criticism and cynicism may become the preferred form of defence in a context which is perceived as ‘alien’ and ‘unwelcoming’.

In time these issues can affect psychological well-being and life satisfaction leading to stress, work issues, sleep issues, anxiety and depression.

Over a prolonged period of time, you may find yourself experiencing some of the following:

  • Homesickness
  • Sense of dependency and helplessness
  • Isolation, disorientation or withdrawal
  • Sadness/Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Increased irritability (also inappropriate anger/hostility)
  • Disturbance in eating or/and sleeping (too much/little)
  • Excessive critical reactions to new culture
  • Stereotyping
  • Hypochondria
  • Excessive drinking or/and recreational drug dependency
  • Distrust
  • Lack of focus and an inability to get things done

In psychotherapy, I will work with you in finding connection to your new contexts and overcoming intercultural relational challenges.