When individuals who developed in one cultural context try to rebuild their lives in a different one, there is always a psychological impact. Ambiguity, lack of certainty and unpredictability are to a certain degree experienced by anyone entering a new culture; even the most prepared ones. Anyone who attempts to live and work in a strange culture can expect to experience culture shock.
To minimise the effect of culture shock it is important to acknowledge the existence of it, to know and pay attention to the symptoms and ask for support.
For employees who go on international assignment and who bring their family with them, living in a new country while trying to integrate into a new culture and a new workplace can become overwhelming. It is not uncommon for the accompanying spouses to experience the loss of their professional identity. Even the most supportive wife may at times feel resentful toward their partner, and this can result in marital or family conflicts. Additional strain can be put on families when there are children involved and parents have to make important decisions for them.
When expatriates are in crisis they are not only dealing with the stress caused by the specific situation (e.g. workplace related problems, marital conflicts) but also with a lack of social support and a sense of loss and disorientation that they experience as they transition from one phase of their life to another.
Coaching, counseling and training can help expats and their families overcome these challenges, have a much smoother transition and adaptation to the new environment and find a balanced and happy life away from home.