Posts tagged international transition
A Common Purpose: Working with School Counselors and Parents to Safeguard the TCK Experience.

Lois Bushong, Author of Belonging Everywhere and Nowhere: Insights into Counseling the Globally Mobile brings us her 5 Essentials For Parents Transitioning Kids Abroad guide. Lois discusses the role of international school counselors and expat parents, Third Culture Kids (TCKs) and Adult Third Culture Kids to enable successful transitions between schools, locations and cultures.

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Every Time It Rains, I Go Home Again to Central America

Every time it rains, I go home to South America, by Lois Bushong, Author of Belonging Everywhere and Nowhere: Insights into Counseling the Globally Mobile brings us her 5 Essentials For Parents Transitioning Kids Abroad guide. Lois has extensive personal and professional experience working with both expat parents, Third Culture Kids (TCKs) and Adult Third Culture Kids and her work focuses on embracing the benefits and managing the challenges that the expat families face when going through global transitions.

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A TCK Theme - Friends Everywhere but Here

“I can’t make any friends here”!

I think this is the most frequent complaint that I hear from my TCK clients.  It doesn’t matter their age, I heard it from several of the teen TCKs last summer who presented for therapy in my office. I heard it from a couple of young, adult TCKs fresh out of college as they were trying to negotiate their new world.  And most recently, I heard it from my middle age, TCK client.

No matter their age, their complaints are the same.

  1. People are so superficial in this town.
  2. I just can’t do chit chat or small talk.
  3. My peers are obsessed about things (shows on television, sports teams, or the latest gossip in their world or in the world of the rich and famous) that I don’t care about at all.
  4. The friends that I do have do not care to hear about my world(s).
  5. I feel all alone even though I am surrounded by people.
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TCKs Make Great Therapists!

I believe the majority of TCKs are wonderful counselors and psychologists. They have faced their own demons and conquered them. They are well trained, very compassionate with their clients, and have excellent skills in working with all levels of society.

Last year, I stumbled on to an article on why Third Culture Kids make good therapists. So here goes my own list, with apologies to the originator of the idea of WHY TCKs make good therapists:

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Caged Birds, Clipped Wings and a Current Passport

As a Third Culture Kid, I was able to freely fly from land to land, forest to forest, mountain top to mountain top and just up into the blue sky. Today, I am often in the company of friends who share their worldwide adventures with excitement and wonderment. I am happy they get to travel this world and I soak up all of the details about those other worlds out there. Yet, I feel like Rosita, with my clipped wings, pacing my perch with my up-to-date passport safely tucked away close to my perch.

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What do we do with Thanksgiving?

“The Cultural Psychology professor asked each student to ‘Describe how your family celebrates Thanksgiving.’  The TCK in the class was confused about answering that seemingly simple question: ‘It depends on where we are at that time as to how we celebrate Thanksgiving.’ The professor tried again, ‘Well, describe how your family celebrates Thanksgiving culturally.’ Again, the TCK did no know how to respond to the question and expressed his inability to answer this question since his family had made so many transitions between cultures. The professor kept interrupting his questions and restating the assignment, ‘How does your family celebrate Thanksgiving?’ At this point, both the TCK and the professor were frustrated – their cultural worlds had unknowingly collided. The professor of Cultural Psychology was completely unaware of the multi-cultural world of the TCK and it hadn’t occurred to the TCK before that it was so unusual to have celebrated Thanksgiving in so many ways.

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TCKs and Anxiety and Excitement

The action of pulling my well-worn suitcase off the closet shelf never fails to awaken strong feelings of anxiety and excitement. Some TCKs feel only anxiety, others excitement.

But me? I sense both anxiety and excitement.

I believe much of this is due to my life as a TCK and moving from country to country, saying goodbye to new and old friends, leaving behind much-loved caretakers, the excitement of sensing that a new adventure is about to begin, fear of the unknown, wondering what will accidentally be left behind, and the anticipation of our new home, all mixed in with the silent pleasure of leaving behind some challenging relationships.

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Depression and Third Culture Kids

The TCK, who is depressed, may not know why they are depressed; all they know is they are miserable.  As therapists walk through the symptoms of depression with the TCK or gives them the Beck Depression Inventory, the client might certainly fit into that diagnosis. But rather than making the TCKs current situation as their only focus, such as what we do when we do Brief Therapy, here are some other areas we, as therapists, might explore.

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