Coping with anxiety and rebuilding identity: A psychosynthesis approach to culture shock

Catherine Ann Lombard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
70 Downloads (Pure)


As the number of international students continues to increase worldwide, their experience of culture shock has been well-researched. Missing, however, from the culture shock literature is the perspective of psychosynthesis psychology and its methodology to deal with the affective, behavioral, and cognitive (ABC) aspects of shock and adaptation. This article illustrates two psychosynthesis techniques that student sojourners found helpful in their acculturation process. Firstly, the self-identification exercise eased anxiety, an affective aspect of culture shock. Secondly, the subpersonality model aided students in their ability to integrate a new social identity, the cornerstone of the cognitive aspect. With a new integrated identity, students changed their behavior (the second ABC component) and new creative energies were released. These qualitative findings are supported by the testimonies of nine international student sojourners in the Netherlands who received psychosynthesis counseling. In addition, a case study demonstrates subpersonality integration and its role in helping students to come into relationship with themselves as well as others. The self-identification exercise and subpersonality model are not only effective tools for aiding sojourners in their adaptation to a host country, but viable methodologies for anyone searching to synthesize a new personal and social identity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-199
JournalCounselling psychology quarterly
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Culture shock
  • Identity
  • International students
  • Psychosyntehsis
  • Subpersonality
  • Mediation


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