Are You Having A Hard Time Balancing Your
Cultural Values With Your Individuality?
Did you recently move to the United States from another country? Was your immigration to the U.S. due to social or economic oppression? Perhaps your family is first or second-generation American, or maybe you or your family recently migrated for better work or educational opportunities. Are you having a hard time preserving your cultural values in American society? Do you wish you could live the “American dream,” yet still manage to hold on to your beloved cultural customs, traditions, foods and holidays?
Many people come to the United States to create a better life for their families. And it’s true, America offers a wealth of opportunity for those who are willing to work hard and become contributing members of society. But no matter how hard you may have worked to get here, it still might be difficult to balance the excitement about your new life with nostalgia for your old one.
Immigrating Is Tough, Even When You Do It For A Better Life
When individuals from one culture enter a different culture, both cultural groups must acclimate to each other. This means there will be changes in both groups. Immigrants who come to the U.S. don’t only change their own lives, but the lives of the citizens they encounter. This back and forth exchange is called acculturation, which has several different models. An individual or family can become completely assimilated with no hint of their native culture, or they may separate from the new environment entirely in order to preserve their native culture. There is also a bi-dimensional acculturation model, which emphasizes figuring out one’s personal values in tandem with cultural values. Research suggests that that integration—retaining native values while embracing new ones—is the most successful acculturation model.
This can be difficult though, especially if you come from a collective society. In the U.S., independence and self-reliance is encouraged; in collective societies, self-expression and individualism is frowned upon. Children may live at home and receive guidance from family elders long after they reach adulthood in collective societies, and decisions are made according to what is best for the family, not for the individual. During acculturation, it can be a challenge to balance the notion of viewing yourself as an individual versus part of a family unit.
You may be feeling homesick or feeling disconnected from your loved ones. If you migrated because of political or religious persecution, you may have unresolved trauma. If you are separated from your parents, they may fear that they will lose their child to a new culture. Your loved ones might think you will change or become a different person while you are gone. If you are living with your family, you may all be going through the acculturation process together. Even if you are still physically connected, it may be overwhelming to experience and deal with everyone’s varying emotions and coping techniques at the same time.
You may also feel pressure to do well in school or take on more responsibility at work if your parents are paying for your education or living expenses. Language barriers can make it difficult to make new friends, and even simple things like asking for directions or finding your favorite native foods can be a challenge. This is why immigrants often stick with other immigrants–they feel underserved and are able to bond over similar struggles.
If you are ready to confront these issues, read on to see how counseling for immigrant families can help.
Counseling for Immigrant Families Can Help Speed Up The Acculturation Process
During acculturation, support is very important. Everyone needs human connection, but when you come to a new country, you may not have that.
Counseling for immigrant families can help you forge new, healthy relationships. At Philadelphia Assessment & Counseling, we can help you find ways to connect with your new society. We can help you acclimate to customs, societal norms and the nuanced differences about how things work in America. We can help you through school and work transitions and support you as you prioritize your own beliefs and values.
In sessions, you can explore your self-identity. For many immigrants, simply being heard and knowing that someone empathizes with the acculturation experience can be extremely helpful. Counseling for immigrant families can help you feel less isolated, alone and different.
With help and support from our experienced and compassionate therapists, you can feel more comfortable in your own skin, have confidence in your decisions and maintain close ties with your culture and your loved ones. Most importantly, you can learn how to balance your family and individual needs in a way that still respects your cultural identity and beliefs.
You may be wondering if counseling for immigrants could help you, but still have some questions and concerns…
I don’t need to talk to a stranger. I can figure this out on our own.
Are you feeling happy and successful in your transition? If not, we can help. The goal of counseling is to support you and get you to where you can handle things on your own—but right now, you may need more support than your family can provide. If you’ve been struggling and trying on your own for awhile without getting the results you want, counseling for immigrants might help.
Only “crazy” people need counseling.
In America, we tend to view counseling as a tool for self-improvement. But in many cultures, there is a huge stigma attached to any kind of counseling.
Counseling is for anyone trying to work through a struggle. Even mentally healthy people go to therapy simply to check in and make sure they are developmentally and emotionally on track. If you want to work on yourself and gain extra support during that process, counseling for immigrant families can be a valuable life tool.
My family won’t be okay with this.
We encourage our counseling for immigrant families clients to open a dialogue with their families. Don’t make assumptions that your family members won’t understand—they might surprise you! We are always happy to invite family members into sessions so we can explain what therapy actually is and how it works.
In certain cultures, lying is a serious sin, so we do not condone that. Rather, we encourage open and honest communication and education. Often, once family members can see and meet their loved one’s counselor, they feel more comfortable and relaxed with the entire therapy process.
Still have questions about counseling for immigrant families? We invite you to call for a free 15-minute consultation.* We look forward to hearing from you soon and helping you start to feel like yourself again.
*all new clients must complete a consultation before being seen for an appointment