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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Cross-cultural reentry stress: analysis of a group intervention using the critical incident technique Mathews, Margot


The cross-cultural adaptation process has been a focus of theoretical and practical interest in the field of cross-cultural counselling. Recently, interest has proceeded from the initial adaptation phase (culture shock) experienced by sojourners when leaving home to a focus on the reentry adaptation phase (reentry shock), experienced by sojourners who have returned home after extended stays abroad. Increasing numbers of Canadian sojourners are currently travelling in a wide variety of contexts and for a wide variety of purposes. Interest in reentry adaptation is fueled by a corresponding, accelerated demand for knowledge of factors influencing reentry adjustment and for interventions effective in reducing its' attendant stress. To date, cross-cultural reentry research has been informed primarily by methodologies (quantitative and anecdotal) that give an overview of the phenomenon but do not yield in-depth, systematic accounts of the lived experience of returnees, resulting in a dearth of information on interventions effective in assisting returnees with their readjustment. The purpose of this study was to (1) accumulate in-depth information about the reentry adjustment process from returnees whose experience had been amplified by a group-based reentry program, (2) analyze these data systematically, in order to identify factors, directly or indirectly related to the reentry program which appear to be facilitating and/or hindering to the reentry adjustment process, and (3) develop a framework of interventions which can be used by counsellors and others in the cross-cultural field to assist returnees in their readjustment process. A qualitative methodology was used in which two groups of returnees were interviewed during the period of late 1992 to mid 1994 after participating in 2-day, professional reentry workshops. Participant interviews were analyzed using The Critical Incident Technique in order to identify factors which influence reentry adjustment. The 19 interviewees were Canadian repatriates who had recently returned from business-related stays of 1 to 4 years' duration in Asia. A total of 245 critical incidents were derived from the 19 interviews. Out of these incidents, a scheme of 12 categories of factors, facilitative of reentry was developed. In order to ensure trustworthiness and soundness of categories, the category scheme was subjected to several tests of reliability and validity. Also identified were 2 emergent themes, separate and unrelated to the program, which related to occurrences of a hindering nature to reentry adjustment. Finally, antecedent factors related to the 245 facilitative critical incidents were identified. These latter findings resulted in the development of a framework of cross-cultural reentry interventions. Implications for theory development and future research; and applications for counselling in the area of cross-cultural reentry are explored.

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