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Area of Clinical Focus:

Navigating Challenges Related to Cultural, Racial,

and Ethnic Identity

With my bicultural and bicontinental background, I am particularly perceptive to challenges related to ethnic identity and acculturation. An individual's culture is not limited to his or her racial or ethnic identity; to me, one's culture also encompasses religious beliefs, gender and sexual identity, geographic upbringing, language abilities, and the variety of intersectional factors that shape us as human beings. 

 

I enjoy meeting clients of all different backgrounds who are interested in exploring the ways in which their experiences have impacted their thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and relationships. 

 

Some examples of the ways in which cultural issues can be brought into therapy include (but are certainly not limited to!):

 

  • Bi/multi-cultural/racial individuals, third culture kids (TCKs), or international students exploring their relationships with multiple cultures and identities

  • Inter-cultural couples (inter-racial, inter-ethnic, inter-faith) navigating relationships with their families of origin or discussing traditions to incorporate in their own families

  • Children of immigrants wishing to gain understanding of their experiences, feel validated in their unique identities, or connect with their first-generation parents; or first-generation immigrant parents wishing to improve communication with and understanding of their second-generation children

 

By creating an open and inviting forum in which we can be curious about culture together, I hope to also provide all clients the opportunity to dispel stereotypes, tell their own stories, and re-write their narratives.

 

Cross-Cultural Kids (CCKs)

 

Cross-cultural kids (CCKs) are those who have "lived in--or meaningfully interacted with--two or more cultural environments for a significant period of time during developmental years" (Pollack & Reken, 2002). This term is an expansion upon the idea of the third culture kid (TCK), children who are predominantly raised in a culture different from their parents' during their developmental years. As David Pollock describes: TCKs and CCKs are "raised in a neither/nor world. It is neither fully the world of their parents' culture (or cultures) nor fully the world of the other culture (or cultures) in which they were raised." Essentially, CCKs exist in their own world of cultural in-between-ness.

 

CCKs include traditional TCKs whose parents move to another country, bi/multi-cultural children, bi/multi-racial children, children of refugees, children of minorities, international adoptees, and domestic TCKs whose parents moved amongst various subcultures within one country.

 

CCKs tend to be highly resilient and open-minded. However, because of their adaptability, CCKs may go unnoticed when they are struggling. CCKs' symptoms and behaviors are often related to the silent grieving of multiple losses and transitions that all CCKs experience. This impacts the individual's sense of identity and feeling of belonging, which in turn influence in the ways individuals approach emotional regulation, friendships and intimate relationships, and parenting. 

 

As a CCK myself, I celebrate the many joys and benefits of my multi-cultural background, but I am also aware of the difficulties that a culturally and geographically mobile upbringing can create. In my work as a therapist, I am especially drawn to the unique challenges that CCKs experience. CCKs sometimes might feel like no one quite understands what it was like being raised like them, and no single place feels quite like home. My therapy room is a safe space for CCKs to share with me parts of their extraordinary lives and to work together to cultivate a sense of home within themselves, wherever they may be.

 

 

References and Resources

 

Bell-Villada, G. H., Sichel, N., Eidse, F., & Orr, E. N. (2011). Writing out of limbo: International childhoods, global nomads and third culture kids. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Pub.

 

Pollock, D.C., & Van Reken, R.E. (2009). Third culture kids: The experience of growing up among worlds. Boston: Nicholas Brealy.

 

Sheard, W (2008). "Lessons from our kissing cousins: Third culture kids and gifted children". Roeper Review: A Journal on Gifted Education 30 (1): 31–38. doi:10.1080/02783190701836437.

 

Sichel, N. (2014, June 20). The trouble with third culture kids. Retrieved from http://www.cmhnetwork.org/media-center/morning-zen/the-trouble-with-third-culture-kids

Van Reken, R. (2017). Third culture kids: Prototypes for understanding other cross-cultural kids. Retrieved from http://www.crossculturalkid.org/who-are-cross-cultural-kids