This page is for those of us, including myself, who I think of as "the children of change." By this I mean those of us who come from families in which our parents are immigrants or we ourselves are immigrants.
I fall into the first category as a second generation Vietnamese American. My mother came to the United States as a result of the Vietnam War. Many of my clients are either first generation immigrants or the children of those immigrants. The question of how two cultures which may be widely different come together in one human being and create conflicts around the construction of identity is a large area of exploration and development in my sessions with these clients.
It's common to hear that "America is a melting pot." True enough. However, there can be significant gaps in information and development for the children of immigrants. How does the child of immigrant parents handle social relationships, sex, dating, the educational system, finding a career--all of the things we're expected to do in this country? Sometimes or maybe even often, immigrant parents can't help their children adjust because they themselves are struggling to adapt to a new culture, or the circumstances of their immigration were so traumatic and difficult that they are suffering from mental health issues. It just isn't true that everyone comes to America and gets a bright shiny new refrigerator full of food and a happy new life. I've always objected to these kinds of portrayals in films and media because I think they give a false view of how incredibly difficult and lonely the process of adapting to a new culture can be. They completely ignore the impacts of poverty, cultural conflict, identity fragmentation and exploitation that affect so many immigrants.
I understand that there are people who believe our borders should be closed and that "new" people shouldn't be allowed into the United States. Those people have a right to their opinion. Those people are also not my clients. I believe all of us who are here have a right to be here and I work in support of that view.
More to come...