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The Influence of distal and proximate culture on the experience of life crises : Australian and African perspectives

Copping, Alicia Nicole 2010 , 'The Influence of distal and proximate culture on the experience of life crises : Australian and African perspectives', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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This thesis comprises a programmatic suite of qualitative research designed to
investigate the experience of life crises for three local communities with
differing distal and proximate cultural values (Caucasian, Sudanese and West
African Australians). The thesis takes an holistic approach to understanding
the experience of trauma, with a focus on posttraumatic growth. Sudanese and
West Africans represent two recently emerging Australian communities, some
members of which have significant mental health needs due to protracted
human rights abuse and life as a refugee. In order for mainstream Australian
mental health services to meet the needs of these communities in a culturally
competent fashion, their experience of trauma, coping, and adaptation to
trauma must be understood.
The thesis comprises three studies describing the development of
Grounded Theory models of the trauma adaptation journey for each
community group. A fourth model was developed describing the resettlement
challenges facing former refugees in Australia, and their potential impact on
pre-existing traumatic distress. Fifty-seven people participated in this
investigation (27 Caucasian-Australian, 15 Sudanese-Australian, & 15 West
Results from Study One showed that Caucasian-Australian participants
endorsed existing dimensions of Posttraumatic Growth outcomes, and adapted
to trauma in a similar pattern to that suggested in Posttraumatic Growth
literature. Additional qualitative components of the Caucasian-Australian
model included the expression of adverse post-trauma outcomes such as Self
Deprecation and Loss of Control, and positive post-trauma outcomes such as
Compassion and Effortful Reinvention of Self. It is suggested that this
sample's individualistic nature resulted in the emphasis of personal control
factors in both positive and adverse outcomes and coping mechanisms.
Conversely, Studies Two and Three showed that the Sudanese and
West African-Australian participants were still in the process of adapting to
their previous trauma, and that this process was hindered by ongoing crises in
their resettlement journeys. Participants endorsed Posttraumatic Growth
outcomes; however, these themes were elucidated as part of the process
participants were undergoing on their journeys to positive post trauma
adaptation, or as cultural variables that promote resilience to hardship that
may have developed through cultural or societal growth, rather than as
personal post-trauma outcomes. It is suggested that African-Australian
participants may be culturally prepared for hardship. Factors contributing to
positive adaptation that were elucidated from these samples included Religion,
Strength, Compassion, New Possibilities, Better Times Ahead, and Support.
Several culturally specific idioms of distress were also highlighted, as well as
distress related symptoms. Themes of ongoing crises included Cultural
Differences, Racism and Discrimination, Worry for Loved Ones Left Behind,
and Barriers to Positive Adaptation (e.g., language difficulties, concern for
employment and education).
The results of this research have significant implications for the
development and delivery of mental health services in Australia, and
internationally. In summary, it was noted that mainstream mental health
services in individualistic nations could i) include collectivistic notions of
social support and advice seeking, and religiosity and spirituality into
psychotherapeutic interventions for migrants from collectivistic cultures; and
ii) due to former refugees' experiences of ongoing crises, provide support
within a holistic, systems approach, providing community development,
assistance with practical needs, and advocacy. This thesis evaluates existing
therapeutic techniques and makes recommendations for the provision of
culturally appropriate mainstream mental health services that may effectively
ameliorate trauma related distress in former refugee populations.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Copping, Alicia Nicole
Keywords: Refugees, Refugees, African, Grounded theory, Victims of violent crimes, Traumatic shock, Mental health policy
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2010 the author

Additional Information:

Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2010. Includes bibliographical references. Ch. 1. A long journey -- Ch. 2. Trauma, posttraumatic growth, and cultural psychology -- Ch. 3. Refugee trauma and the influence of culture -- Ch. 4. Methodology -- Ch. 5. Study One: a Caucasian-Australian story -- Ch. 6. Study Two: a Sudanese-Australian story -- Ch. 7. Study Three: a West African-Australian story -- Ch. 8. Resettlement, acculturation, and ongoing crises in an African-Australian sample -- Ch. 9. General discussion

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