Growing up in two different cultures is not easy. Conflict related to differences in culture between immigrant parents and their Canadian-born children is more common than you might think. It often produces confusion as it can be difficult to make sense of differing sets of cultural values and expectations. Common challenges include difficulty feeling accepted, feelings of disconnection, and difficulty answering the questions “who am I?” and “where do I belong?”. It is also common for individuals to keep secrets and hide parts of themselves in an attempt to avoid conflict.
Cultural stress can impact many parts of your life.
Difficulties with bicultural stress can lead to a sense of inner confusion, feelings of low-self esteem, shame, guilt, and a sense of aloneness and isolation. Depression, anxiety, body image/eating difficulites, and relationship problems can also result. Whether you are born in Canada and navigating differences with your parents, partner, or friends; or you have recently moved to the country and are having difficulty adjusting, know that you are not alone in your struggle.
You can make sense of the confusion and resolve the conflict.
In our work together, I will help you make sense of the confusion by examining your multiple identities and helping you accept yourself as a unique mix of these. You will also learn strategies to resolve inner conflict related to differing cultural value systems and expectations and learn to better communicate your needs with loved ones. We will also address related feelings of anxiety, depression, and relationship problems that may be getting in the way of you living a satisfying life.
I’m afraid of therapy – what if I feel worse when I face my problems and feelings?
The fear you’re experiencing is natural as you think about facing some painful and difficult emotions. Coming to therapy takes courage. Although you may temporarily feel worse as you make contact with feelings and memories you have been avoiding, this will lead to new insights that will help you better understand your needs and the actions needed to move forward. Know that therapy will progress at a pace that you feel comfortable with – you will never be forced to speak about anything you are not ready to discuss. Openly speaking about all that you have been hiding can be very healing and help you build skills to better address challenges now and in the future.
I am concerned that people might find out I see you.
I know that therapy is highly stigmatized in many cultures. And that close people in your life may be judgemental and criticize you for not being strong enough to “just get over it.” Firstly, know that this expectation is as unfair as expecting you to “just get over” a broken leg. Also know that your presence in my office and our work together is held in strict confidence. Clinical psychologists are governed by strict privacy and confidentiality laws that protect your private personal health information. With few exceptions (e.g., safety concerns), the fact that you’re my client and anything that you say to me cannot be repeated without your consent. Full privacy and confidentiality guidelines will be discussed with you when we meet.
Therapy can take time and can be expensive. I am concerned about cost.
Cultural conflict, lack of belonging, and identity confusion can cause problems with low self- esteem, depression, anxiety, relationship problems, and body image/eating problems. It is often very difficult to make sense of the inner chaos on your own. It may be helpful to think about therapy as an investment in yourself, your relationships, and your future. By investing in a course of therapy, you are proactively making a choice to feel better sooner and build the life you envision for yourself.