TCK - Third Culture Kids

Book a Therapy Session Suited For Third Culture Kids!

Cross Culture Therapy offers online therapy sessions to people suffering from depression, anxiety, phobia and stress. We also offer life-coaching sessions to people who have recently gone through traumatic events such as the loss of a loved one or who are dealing with feelings of displacement and rudderlessness in society (such as, but not specific to, Third Culture Kids) as well as to those who are suffering from work-related depression. Each session lasts 50 minutes and is conducted via video conferencing software. Sessions can be purchased in packs of 1-session / €50, 3-sessions €125 (60 day expiry), 5-sessions €200 (90 day expiry) and 5-sessions €220 with no expiry date.

Who are Third Culture Kids?

Third Culture Kids (TCK) is a term used in reference to children who grow up in a culture different to the culture of their parents. An example of a Third Culture Kid (TCK) could be anything from a Swiss boy spending his formative years in Singapore to a South African girl growing up in Canada.

Third Culture Kids (TCK) may live a very privileged lifestyle. More often than not they attend international school, have access to private members clubs and sometimes they even live in gated communities with other families with Third Culture Kids (TCK). The term ‘Third Culture’ refers to the amalgamation of the home culture (the culture of the parents birth country) and the culture of the country they are currently living in.

The first known examples of Third Culture Kids (TCK) were children of missionaries. Other typical examples are military ‘brats’ who follow their parents from one allied army base to the next (E.g. Germany to Japan) or the children of bureaucrats, politicians and businessmen posted overseas.

Over the years there have been multiple definitions of the term published in academic literature. Perhaps the most illustrative definition was provided by David Pollock in his 1989 lecture.

A Third Culture Kid (TCK) is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parent’s culture. The TCK frequently builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership of any. Although elements from each culture may be assimilated into the TCK’s life experience, the sense of belonging is often in relationship to others of a similar background. (2009, p. 15)

The originator of the term Third Culture Kids (TCK) was Ruth Hill Useem. She spent several years in India during the late 1950’s studying the families of American missionaries. She was interested in how the American culture of the missionaries and the local Indian culture interacted with one another. Her study naturally directed itself to the children of the missionaries as they displayed tendencies that were prevalent and unique to the two cultures. Useem used the word culture to describe a group of people who have things in common. In her conceptualisation of the term Third Culture Kids (TCK), the first culture refers to the passport culture of the individual, the second culture refers to the host culture, and the third culture refers to a way of life, the existence in a neither-nor world and the shared culture of an experience unique only to the persons who have lived it.

Reference

Pollock, D., 2009. Third Culture Kids, Revised Edition: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds. Brealey, Nicholas Publishing.

Challenges Facing Third Culture Kids (TCK)

Third Culture Kids (TCK) are often plagued by identity issues. To spend one’s formative years in a country where one is considered a foreigner whilst at the same time thinking of it as home, causes problems when one wants to take the next step in life.

Nationality is often used as a reference point in conversations with strangers. Depending on how one answers the question of where one is from, the person will respond in a different way.

If the Third Culture Kids (TCK) says that they are Swedish, then the stranger will make assumptions about his values based on Swedish culture. This may pose a problem if the Third Culture Kid (TCK) has grown up in Japan and does not see himself as Swedish, or is unable to understand the parts of the Swedish culture that the person is referring to.  

On the other hand, if the Third Culture Kids (TCK) says that he is from Japan even though he is of western decent and visibly not Japanese, he may feel disingenuous. After all, his life at home has been based on the culture of his parents, his friends may predominantly be other Third Culture Kids (TCK) and he may have lived a lifestyle unfamiliar to a Japanese person.

Third Culture Kids (TCK) tend to experience identity issues in the years prior to going away to college or university. In the application process, the Third Culture Kid (TCK) is made to think about where he or she wants to live in the future.

Their friends may be heading to different corners of the world, their relatives may be wanting them to return to their birth country and circumstances related to their knowledge of the local language or the school system’s reputation and future job prospects may make it hard for them to study at university level in the country they are residing in. Third Culture Kids (TCK) are therefore forced to think about where they consider home, which in turn can lead to stress and identity issues.

Where is home? – Third Culture Kids (TCK) are often asked this question and to most of them it’s quite annoying to have to repeatedly explain one’s allegiance to a certain country or their lack of an adequate answer. The answer is more often than not a long-winded explanation of the heartbreak felt at simultaneously losing both their birth culture and their residing culture.

When returning to their birth culture either permanently or for holidays, Third Culture Kids (TCK) tend to adopt the other country’s culture as the foundation of their identity. On the other hand, when the Third Culture Kid (TCK) is in their residing culture they may feel a strong affiliation to their home culture. So, when asked to make a choice, they are more often than not unable to.

Philip Andersson - Third Culture Kid Counsellor

Philip is currently studying to become an authorised psychotherapist and can therefore only offer life-coaching services at the moment. He is well-versed in psychodynamic therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, acceptance & commitment therapy as well as mindfulness practices.

Philip treats people suffering from depression, anxiety, stress and various phobias as well as people who are struggling to manage cultural differences. Philip is an Adult Third Culture Kid and has had experience in successfully treating people with displacement issues.

 

Curriculum Vitae

Work

June 2018 –                               Cross Culture Therapy    Borensberg, Sweden

I am the founder of Cross Culture Therapy and have been working actively with clients since June 2018, as a life-coach / counsellor.

August 2018 – Jan 2019       Region Ostergotland          Vadstena, Sweden

Work placement at the therapy department of a general practitioner. Assisting three in-house therapists specialising in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Mindfulness and Psychodynamic Therapy.

March 2017 – Nov 2018     Nytida Psychiatric Home    Linköping, Sweden

Worked as a member of a care-team at a psychiatric home for people suffering from schizophrenia.

Academia

November 2019 – November 2021  PDT Step-1       Sverigehälsan

Currently studying to become a psychodynamic therapist at Sverigehälsan. PDT Step-1.

August 2016 – January 2020   Bachelor of Science in Social Work   Linköping University

Studied various concepts related to social work such as; sociology, psychology, politics, socio-economics as well as Scandinavian Welfare Systems.

Philip Andersson

Founder – Cross Culture Therapy

Twitter: @CCTphilip

 

 

Who are Adult Third Culture Kids? (ATCKs)

The term Adult Third Culture Kids refers to persons who have spent their formative years in a country different to that of their birth parents but now live in one country permanently. Simply put, ATCKs are Third Culture Kids (TCK) who have become adults. Although it may seem unusual for a different term to be applied to the very same people (after all, all TCKs become ATCKs eventually) Adult Third Culture Kids are a subgroup with their very own set of problems.

The problems most commonly associated with Adult Third Culture Kids are related to life planning. Whereas children with traditional upbringings do not have to deal questions such as; in what country do we want to live? if I marry this person would they want to move to the country where I grew up in the future? do I want my children to grow up the same way I did even though it will leave them with the very same identity issues that I am trying to cope with? do I actively want to stop my children from growing up that way and in so doing hindering me from ever returning to the country where I grew up? and so on.

Building a life is hard enough for people with traditional upbringings. The questions of love, marriage and family planning gets even harder though when you are faced with loss. To an ATCK, choosing to marry a person or having children with that person, means that they must sacrifice the defining aspect of their life.

Our Cause - Helping Third Culture Kids Find Home!

 

Third Culture Kids are often looked upon with envy for their unique upbringing. People tend to focus only on the positive attributes associated with the Cross Cultural Lifestyle. Even the parents of Third Culture Kids (TCK) are guilty of this. Unfortunately, this means that the problems attributed to a Cross Cultural upbringing such as, identity related issues, belonging and rudderlessness, are often overlooked. In fact, the majority of international schools have no programs in place to help alleviate these problems.

We at Cross Cultural Therapy aim to provide therapeutic help to Third Culture Kids, Adult Third Culture Kids and individuals who live a Cross Cultural Lifestyle. Our goal is to provide each individual with the necessary skill set to deal with their problems so that they can enjoy the positive aspects of their lifestyle.

Beyond providing therapeutic services to Third Culture Kids or persons living a Cross Cultural Lifestyle, we also intend to work with international schools to provide similar services to their students. This may take the form of one-to-one therapy sessions, informative lectures to students, or educational programs designed to help on-site counsellors to work with the issue.

Moreover, we at Cross Culture Therapy will also strive to raise awareness of the issues plaguing Third Culture Kids. The phenomenon will only become more prevalent as the world gets more globalized. Therefore, we believe that educating people in the matter will help to smooth the negative symptoms felt by people during the globalization process and lead to a higher form of understanding.

Book a Therapy Session Suited For Third Culture Kids!

Cross Culture Therapy offers online therapy sessions to people suffering from depression, anxiety, phobia and stress. We also offer life-coaching sessions to people who have recently gone through traumatic events such as the loss of a loved one or who are dealing with feelings of displacement and rudderlessness in society (such as, but not specific to, Third Culture Kids) as well as to those who are suffering from work-related depression. Each session lasts 50 minutes and is conducted via video conferencing software. Sessions can be purchased in packs of 1-session / €50, 3-sessions €125 (60 day expiry), 5-sessions €200 (90 day expiry) and 5-sessions €220 with no expiry date.

TCK Stories - Read blogposts from other TCKs and submit yours!

Read about the experiences of Third Culture Kids (TCK) just like you. Whether they are all grown up or still an adolescent, whether they have moved back to their passport culture and become a hidden migrant or decided to continue on country hoping for the foreseeable future, learn from, mourn and jubilate with your fellow TCK.

Better yet, contribute to our flagship blog series – TCK Stories – by submitting your own. Join the growing number of TCK, ATCK, CCK, and expats raising children abroad, who contribute to our series, by sending an email to us with an attached word file (3 pages max) with your story and a few accompanying photographs.

Also, do not forget to subscribe to our newsletter to keep up-to-date with TCK Stories and our other blogposts.

And, when you have the time, read our founder’s (Philip Andersson) TCK Story.

TCK Stories

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