Authored by Vilte Baliutaviciute, MA, LPC, a member of the IntraSpectrum Counseling clinical team.
Immigration is a rich and powerful experience. The crossing of two cultures can result in new perspectives, new beauty, and new connections. But the experience of immigration can also come with significant hardships and difficulties, especially for those in the LGBTQ+ community.
For those newly emigrated, adjusting to a new culture can come as a shock. Close relationships can become distant, and navigating one’s new home can feel like living on an alien planet. For later-generation immigrants, there can also be a struggle to balance two different worlds. Whether newly arrived or a few generations apart, anyone with an immigrant background might want to find ways to maintain connections to their culture. And no one person is only one thing. For immigrants who identify somewhere on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, there are additional complexities in how both identities meet, especially as different cultures may have very different ideas about gender, sexuality, and how best to present and express them.
Many people struggle around the issues of acculturation and cultural identity, you’re not alone. It can be difficult to know how to develop a healthy balance between native culture & host culture, or how to reduce feelings of isolation, rejection, homesickness, anxiety, depression, or low self esteem. Navigating all of this, in addition to having an LGBTQ+ identity, can feel overwhelming.
What are some of the ways that people struggling with acculturation and immigration issues can address them?
- Develop a deeper awareness of ethnic identity
- Strengthen interpersonal connections
- Facilitate the integration of assimilation and acculturation in everyday life
- Increase support networks within the immigrant community
- Increase level of self-advocacy
If you feel like you’re in need of some support, consider therapy. Group therapy is a short-term therapeutic approach that allows participants to share experiences and coping skills with others, and learn effective ways to develop stronger social / support networks. Many people also find individual therapy to be helpful in addressing these issues.
Looking for additional support in these areas? Check out these resources, to find:
- Legal support and information
- Other support and resource groups
This blog is authored by Vilte Baliutaviciute, MA, LPC, a member of the IntraSpectrum Counseling clinical team. IntraSpectrum Counseling is Chicago’s leading psychotherapy practice dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community, and we strive to provide the highest quality mental health care for multicultural, kink, polyamorous, and intersectional issues. For anyone needing affirming and validating support, please click here or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.