Getting Help with Cultural Adjustment

Living in a different culture can be exciting on one hand and can be challenging on the other hand. It’s common for international students or new immigrants to go through different situations and stages for cultural adjustment. Adapting to life in Canada varies from person to person and depends on several factors such as where people have come from, what are their values, why did they come, or their current living conditions

Counselling for cultural adjustment is essential if you are one of those having cultural adjustments in Canada. At Evergreen Rehab and Wellness Clinical Counselling will provide you ways on how you can significantly adjust to your current environment.

Culture Adjustment Stages

  • Stage 1: The honeymoon period
    It is a new time after immigration, where everything is new and exciting. People are happy at this stage and love a new culture.
  • Stage 2: Culture Shock
    It’s a bit of a challenging stage where people feel anxious about living in a new place. You try to understand the culture and learn to manage your housing, food, language, people, and transportation. If your native language is not English, then you can feel tired of speaking English all the time. Sometimes it affects your emotions and feelings, and you may feel sad, unhappy, angry, mad, and impatient. You may think about going back home, but these all feelings are the process of adjustment in the culture. These situations will make you a part of the new culture.
  • Stage 3: Adjustment
    It’s the last stage when you are used to the normal activities of housing, food, people, and transportation. In this phase, people become more aware of changes and feel comfortable with these cultural changes. Your mood will improve, and you will feel a sense of achievement towards a culture. The basic problems will be part of your regular life, and you will feel relaxed and enjoy speaking English. You will adjust to the culture and live a happy life.

Symptoms of culture shock

The second stage of culture adjustment is filled with different challenges, and people experience many difficulties. In this phase, people try their best to adjust to the new culture and learn what is appropriate for them and what is not. They try to accept and understand people and their habits. During the phase of culture shock, most of the people feel:

  • Change in the schedule of eating
  • Feeling irritation and angry
  • Change in sleeping patterns
  • Feeling sad
  • Feeling fatigued
  • Feeling homesick and contacting home repeatedly
  • Lack of self-belief and feeling confused
  • Spend less time with people and fewer participation in activities

Mental health challenges while adjusting to a new culture

People have different feelings and emotions about different things. Some people feel it very normal to experience challenges while adjusting in a new culture. It brings some changes in one way or another, and everyone in this phase suffers difficulties in a different way. The most comfortable way to cope with these changes is to accept the challenges of adjustment.

Moving to a new culture brings a significant change in everyone’s life, and during these changes, some people can also experience mental health challenges. Adjusting to a new culture is not easy for everyone, and it brings a lot of changes in a person’s physical and psychological health. These changes can also be the cause of an increase in the risk of mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, trauma, low self-esteem, low confidence, and involvement of bad habits such as smoking and drinking.

How can counselling help in cultural adjustment?

Although for some people, it is normal to experience cultural adjustment challenges, some have great difficulties about changing and adjusting. If you are feeling any type of anxiety or other disorders due to cultural change, then you should seek help and concern therapists. It’s not necessary to visit a therapist only when you are experiencing mental health challenges. You can also consult them if the cultural adjustment symptoms are impacting your daily life.

There are many therapies that can be applied to help you overcome cultural adjustment challenges. The following are some of them.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on our way of thinking about how we look at the world and ourselves. It helps us to stay positive and provide us with some techniques to overcome cultural adjustment challenges positively. Cognitive means how our negative thoughts contribute to anxiety, and behavioral means how we behave in a situation that creates anxiety. Cognitive Behavioral therapy treats panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and many phobias. The therapist first analyzes your negative thoughts and teaches you how to deal with them and then replace them with real thoughts.

Psychoanalytic therapy

Psychoanalysis therapy focuses on the idea of the subconscious or the thoughts that our mind drives, and we make them our behavior. In psychoanalytic therapy, therapists ask questions and read your thoughts; they will not give you advice; instead, they will help you point out the patterns of your thoughts and behavior. It is a different form of therapy in which your therapists teach you different techniques and skills to change your thinking pattern.

Psychodynamic therapy

Psychodynamic therapy is the talkative therapy in which individuals work on unconscious psychic factors to shape mood and behavior. Psychodynamic therapy also works on the procedure of psychoanalytic therapy in which the goal of the therapist is to shape the personality of the individual. Psychodynamic therapy also emphasizes insights that the past of an individual influences the present, and using these insights, therapists change the behavior of an individual.

Interpersonal therapy

Interpersonal therapy focuses on building relationships through effective communication skills. The primary goal of the therapy is to identify the existing strengths of an individual and use these strengths to shape thoughts and behaviour to maintain a meaningful relationship. Therapists help you learn interpersonal skills and support you to execute these skills in practical life. Interpersonal therapy also focuses on intrapersonal skills, such as the perspective of an individual’s thoughts. Interpersonal skill therapy is short term and usually complete within 12 to 16 weeks.

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