The Immigration experience can be stressful

Are you an immigrant?

Do you or your family feel that you don’t “fit in” ?

Are you struggling or floundering to “find your feet” in Australia?

It may surprise you to hear that these issues are not uncommon for immigrants. Australian culture and society view the migration experience, something like this: “We are all migrants, we chose Australia for a better life, life is better here. So no worries, be positive and enjoy life”. There is an assumption that somehow the immigrant experience is the same for everyone. The psychological concerns of those adjusting to a new culture, such as feelings of loss, culture shock, separation from family and language difficulties are often overlooked.
But in fact we are all very different and we respond to events and experiences differently. For some of us, immigration is hugely traumatic, on a par with divorce or the death of a spouse.
Family and friends can provide a wonderful support network, but sometimes these are not available for whatever reason. They may be overseas or in other ways emotionally unavailable. Sometimes family may be part of the reason we are in crisis. Migration can put existing relationships under stress and migration may even lead to relationship breakdown. There may be financial issues or substance abuse in the family exacerbated by migration and difficult to manage.

In seeking help the first step can be the biggest challenge. Many if not most of us see asking for help as a sign of weakness. Often we tell ourselves and others “……but I am coping!” It is only afterwards when we have moved on, when the situation has changed for better or for worse that we realise it for what it was.

It is amazing how much can be achieved by simply telling your story. Very often we have within ourselves the solutions to our own problems but we cannot see them. It is only when talking about them that we become aware of contradictions and inconsistencies and the issues that we need to confront or that we avoid.
Everyone has a life story. When we tell it to others, a picture of is built up and a narrative of one’s life can be formed. Narrative therapy, in particular, aims to build a coherent and more positive life story, which is critically important to healing.
A successful immigrant must somehow integrate their personal story and culture of origin with their new environment.
The age that the immigrant arrived in the new country is also important. For children, migration and cultural change, is very different than for an adult whose identity is already well established. All too often, relationships between young people and their parents and grandparents become strained after experiences of migration.
Gender, social class, occupation and more, are important in understanding the immigration experience.
Moving to a new country is a time of great adjustment, and can be difficult as new migrants face unfamiliar environments, culture, and practices. Asking for help can be an important step in making the transition easier.

Jonathan Holman



Category : Blog & Depression & Happiness & Immigration & Parenting & Relationships

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