Where we we grow up and live shapes our understanding of what is “normal:” our view of ourselves, of others, of relationships and of how the world works. We develop our world view from what we experience in our family, our group, our culture and our country. We take these experiences all for granted and assume is that this is the norm.
Acculturation Stress and Immigration
When we move to a new place, such as different region, country or culture, we will have new experiences. Some of these encounters will challenge much of what we take for granted. Sometimes it does not take a big geographical move – moving away from home and the family we grew in also exposes us to new ideas and life experiences. A lot of the change can be expected and welcomed – we expect different landscapes, different food, different customs. We may welcome the changes and may look forward to new opportunities. The changes may be challenging, exciting, but also stressful or disorienting. The changes may lead us to question who we are, what we value and where we belong. In some cases this acculturation stress can also lead to depression or anxiety.
We each adjust to a new culture in our own personal way. We decide how much to keep and cherish or disown from the former culture, and how much to adopt or reject of the new culture. One person might assume or insist that those close to him or her adjust in the same way and make the same choices. These different individual strategies can lead to conflicts: conflict within families, between partners, between parents and children, or grandparents and adult children, and also amongst friends and colleagues.
Intergenerational Cultural Challenges
Children who grow up in two or more cultures are faced with the challenges and opportunities of navigating the different cultures. At home they may be expected to conform to the norms of their parents and at school they may follow those of the larger culture. When parents are not aware of how different the larger culture is from the one the parents grew up in, or minimize the challenge of being in two cultures, much stress and misunderstanding can occur.
Psychotherapy, Cross-Cultural Concerns and Identity
In psychotherapy I can help you explore your struggles with who you are, how you view yourself, how others view you, and how you navigate the challenges of being in two cultures or more. Together we can clarify your values, and help you define what is important for you.
Questions? Want to know more? Ready to take the next step and explore the possibility of working together? Give me a call at (650) 327-3003. I look forward to hearing from you.