Although Ms. Pleshkova moved to the United States for better professional opportunities, she could only find work as a camp counselor and childminder, despite her experience as an English literature teacher in Ukraine. “I was upset when I found out the payment wasn’t enough,” she said. “And I felt I could do better. I’m suddenly at the bottom of the food chain.
She finally decided to put aside her passion for teaching and now works in the organization of events for a steakhouse in her city.
“My feet hurt”
The fact that people from different cultures tend to express their sadness in different ways can further complicate how those people seek help, Ms Kohli said. Often, given the cultural stigmas surrounding mental health, many people might not feel comfortable asking at all.
“When my father is stressed, he will never say that he is stressed; he will say: ‘My feet hurt.’ Or my mother will say, “I have a headache.” She won’t say ‘I’m overwhelmed,'” Ms Kohli said. “And that will also show up in the room with a clinician, and there’s no rule book for a Western-trained practitioner that says, ‘Here’s the criteria for this type of grief, here’s how to heal it, treat it, etc .’”
Ms. Kohli suggests seeking out therapists who may have a deeper understanding of different cultural expressions of grief or anxiety and depression. During the pandemic, more and more of her Brown Girl Therapy followers reached out to Ms. Kohli asking for referrals to therapists who would understand their cultural background, so she made a spreadsheet of names that she linked from his Instagram page.
Even using and understanding the term cultural grief can be “powerful,” she said.
“Name it makes grief more manageable. If you were to go to a clinician and say, ‘I think I’m dealing with cultural grief,’ hopefully a good clinician will do their research and want to explore this with you to understand how it affects you,” she said. said.
There are also ways to cope beyond therapy. Although it may look different for everyone, coping with cultural grief often involves variations of two things. The first is to rediscover or relearn one’s history, culture and oneself, Dr. Han said, and the second is to find and build one’s community.
She often recommends to her Asian American patients, for example, that they read books by Asian American authors or watch films that represent their different cultures so that they can see their own experiences reflected and feel less alone in their grief. It also helps to resurrect things – food, language, smells – that may have been pushed aside in an attempt to assimilate.
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