Cross Cultural Workers

Mental Health Resources for People Living and Working in Cross-Cultural Settings

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"What Cross-Cultural Workers Ought to Know" Articles

Articles in this series contain general information about various topics related to mental health and cross-cultural workers. These articles are all titled, "What Cross-Cultural Workers Ought to Know about ______," and each one contains information on topics ranging from adolescence to guilt to trauma.

Individual articles from this series can be read below, or download the entire series as an e-book.  In addition to reading the articles online, you can also download them in Word .doc format, or in Adobe Reader .pdf format.

What Cross Cultural Workers Ought to Know about ...

  • Adolescence: This article is what parents need to know about adolescence since the Bible does not mention adolescence (which was not invented yet).
  • Aging Parents: Caring for aging parents is difficult when you live at "home," but it is even worse when living out of the country. Here are some suggestions.
  • Anger: Is anger sinful? What do we do with anger? This article gives some guidelines for managing this troubling emotion.
  • Anxiety:  Everyone becomes anxious at times. This article explores what causes anxiety, what the Bible says about it, and what you can do about it.
  • Attrition: Many cross-cultural workers quit before they had intended to return to their host country. Here are some major reasons why they quit and some suggestions that may help cross-cultural workers avoid becoming attrition statistics.
  • Bribes: Cross-cultural workers are often puzzled about what to do when bribes seem to be suggested. Here is information that will help you decide what to do when faced with that situation. 
  • Books: This annotated bibliography evaluates a dozen or so books useful to people living and working cross-culturally.
  • Burnout: Anyone can burn out, but the stress of living in another culture may make it even more likely. This article gives tips on avoiding this cause of leaving.
  • Children's Adjustment: Many times Cross Cultural Workers need to remind themselves of the special needs of their children as they make adjustments to living in a different culture. This article gives suggestions and ideas for helping understand our children's needs.
  • Compassion Fatigue:  Sometimes dedicated and successful cross-cultural workers do not feel dedicated or successful and just don't care any more. Here are tips on what is happening and what to do about it.    
  • Conflict: Since everyone working with others experiences conflict, this article looks at ways of avoiding and resolving such conflict.
  • Confrontation: One of the most stressful things for a cross-cultural worker to do is to confront a colleague about wrong behaviors. Here are some insights from Galatians 2 that help cross-cultural workers go about it when such confrontations are necessary.
  • Contentment: Cross-cultural workers may find themselves going through a period of discontent. The Bible talks about contentment, and here are some suggestions from it about how to become content regardless of the situation.
  • Coping with Change: Life is rarely totally predictable. Change happens, and how we respond to it can make a huge difference in our lives. This article examines the dynamics of change and gives some tips for coping in a healthy way.
  • Counseling: Talking with a counselor does not mean you are mentally ill, only that you want to be a better person. Here are some tips about finding a counselor.
  • Culture Stress: Culture shock is widely discussed, but what about the constant stress that remains when the shock is over. Here are some suggestions for action.
  • Danger and Risk: As the world becomes more violent more cross-cultural workers find themselves in danger. The Bible gives examples of cross-cultural workers who found themselves suddenly in danger and how they decided whether to stay or leave their host country.
  • Debriefing: People returning "home" benefit from debriefing even if nothing traumatic happened. This article gives some ways to go about your debrief.
  • Depression: Everyone feels sad at times, but what if the sadness does not go away? This article answers questions about depression and what you can do.
  • Difficult Leaders: Cross-cultural workers may be surprised when their leaders are difficult to work with. Here are some examples from the Bible and what cross-cultural workers there did to remedy the situation--or put up with it.   New!
  • Each Other: Generational differences cause difficulties when people work together. This article considers differences and offers suggestions for harmony.
  • Expectations: Living in another culture is not what you thought it would be. This article looks at the effects of expectations and how to set realistic ones.
  • Forgiveness: Why is it so hard to ask (or give) forgiveness? What if you can’t forget—or still don’t like the other person? Here are some answers.
  • Generational Differences: Research in the last century revealed cultural differences between the generations. However recent research has revealed that those differences now include far deeper issues, those of morality and religion.     
  • Grief: You may think of grief as what occurs when a loved one dies. However, people working in other cultures constantly grieve losses with each transition.
  • Groupthink:  In striving for unity of the Spirit we may slip over into the unanimity of groupthink and make bad decisions.  Here are tips on how to tell when this is happening and what to do about it.   
  • Guilt: This article discusses the differences between being guilty and feeling guilty as well as how to deal with each.
  • Happiness, Comparison and Envy: The cycle of comparing ourselves with others and feeling unhappy because of that comparison is as old as humanity. This article looks at this issue and offers some ideas to help deal with it positively.
  • Healing of Memories: Life often brings very painful experiences, and the memories of those experiences often hinder us. This article looks at the topic of "The Healing of Memories" and examines some of the steps that can lead to the experience of that healing.
  • Helicopter Parents: When children of overprotective parents become cross-cultural workers, they may become "high maintenance" for others. Here are some suggestions for coping with these overparented recruits.  
  • Home Assignment: Information about reentry is widely available, but it is often not relevant for the people who are going to be in their passport country for only a brief period.  This is written for people who assigned there for a short time before returning to their host country.     
  • Laughter:  Laughter is not only fun but also it is good for your physical health, your mental health, and the health of your group.  Have some fun so that you can enjoy good health.   
  • Leadership: Nehemiah was one of the greatest leaders of all time. Here is the "who, what, when, why, and how" of his leadership.
  • Loneliness:  Loneliness can be a great challenge for the people working cross culturally. This article examines some of the reasons for this, and offers some ideas on handing it in a healthy way.   
  • Member Care: This article gives suggestions for getting help from your organization and from other people while working cross-culturally.
  • Managing Money:  Few things can cause as much conflict on a team is differences in approach to money management. This article examines the issue and suggests some ways to discuss and manage personal and organizational funds.
  • Memory: This article takes a look a new insights in how memory works (or doesn't work) and why our memories of events often change over time.
  • Mental Health: To maintain health don’t prioritize your schedule, schedule your priorities. Here are top priorities in life for mental and physical health.
  • Millennials:  In 2014 the Millenial generation became adults with ages rqnging from 18 to 33, and the Pew Research Center conducted three surveys early in the year. Here are some of the findings those surveys that agency leaders may want to consider and suggestions for actions they may want to take.    New!
  • Narcissism: Some cross-cultural workers believe they are very important and want others to admire them, but they do not recognize the needs of others. They may appear to be very nice in one situation but belittle people in another. This brochure considers a narcissist in the Bible and gives suggestions what others should do and should not do when living with one.  New!
  • Nepotism:  When relatives seem to be given favored positions, it can be a source of real conflict on teams!  This article explores the issue and suggests ways to minimize the problem.  
  • Panic Attacks: Suddenly, with no warning, cross-cultural workers may feel intense fear for no reason at all, a most upsetting experience. Here is what is happening and things one can do to prevent it.    
  • Passive-Aggressive Behavior:  Like the Prodigal Son, some people refuse to do things, complain, criticize, resent, and envy others.  Here are some tips on how to recognize passive-aggressive behavior and what to do about it. 
  • Perfectionism:  Most cross-cultural workers want to do well; however, some of them want to do even better--to do everything perfectly. Such perfectionism can lead to many problems. Here are some suggestions to help overcome it.   New!
  • Pornography: There are some surprising statistics in a recent Barna study on the use of pornography, and some good recommendations on this important issue.
  • Premature Departure:  Leaving the field early can be a traumatic experience.  Whether it is due to political turmoil, interpersonal conflict, or other issues, it can be difficult to process.  here are some important factors to consider.  
  • Psych Testing: Organizations often require psychological tests before sending people to other cultures. This article discusses some tests and consequences.
  • Reconciliation: Forgiveness and reconciliation are not the same. Here are some steps you can take toward restoring relationships.
  • Reentry: Returning "home" can be more difficult than leaving. This article presents ways to finish well when you leave and enter well back home.
  • Relationships: One of the primary reasons people leave early is the problem of getting along with others. Here are some suggestions for lasting friendships.
  • Rejection and Betrayal:  Expecting to be thanked for what they do, some crosscultural-workers find themselves rejected or even betrayed by those they came to serve. Here are some ways to deal with that situation when it occurs. New!
  • Retirement: While working cross-culturally people may not think about what it will be like to retire. This article raises issues that need to be considered.
  • Rumors: Rumors have plagued cross-cultural workers for centuries, so here is some information about how they start, what they do, what to do when you hear one, and what to do if you are the victim of one.  
  • Same-sex marriage: Same-sex marriage raises both religious and cultural issues for cross-cultural workers.  Those issues may be quite different depending on whether or not homosexual behavior is a crime in the host country.  This brochure provides information to help such workers consider the issues they face as they decide what to do.  
  • Saying Bye: People working in another culture say many goodbyes as they travel back and forth. Here are some suggestions for such interrupted relationships.
  • Sarcasm: Some cross-cultural workers make sarcastic remarks to be funny. Nationals, and even teammates, may misunderstand these remarks. Here is what individuals can do to prevent that.    
  • Separation: Couples living overseas often find themselves separated. This article looks at common reactions to this and suggests ways to cope.
  • Sexual Abuse: Sexual abuse happens at home, at school, and with others in the organization. Here are some signs of such abuse and suggested actions to take.
  • Sexual Purity: People living in other cultures may experience greater sexual temptation, so here are some suggestions for maintaining purity.
  • Sexual Stress: Living in other cultures puts an added strain on marriage relationships. This article looks at these strains and gives suggestions for coping.
  • Stay When Others Leave: People usually think of the effect of goodbyes on people who are leaving. However, such goodbyes also have a variety of effects on those who remain. Here are some suggestions for those who are left behind.
  • Suffering:  An all-to-common part of human life is suffering.  And, dealing with it is often difficult. This article examines suffering and offers some helpful ideas on perspective as well as practical steps for those who are suffering. 
  • Suicide: We may have friends that say that they are considering taking their own lives, or perhaps you have considered it. This article looks at the difficult topic of suicide, examines some common myths, and offers some guidance on helping others and yourself. 
  • "Taboo" Topics: Cross-cultural workers seldom talk about some particular topics, and others may think they are they are the only ones who feel like they do. It is time to break the silence and for cross-cultural workers be transparent about difficulties they face. Here are some suggestions for them. New!
  • TCK Books: This annotated bibliography evaluates a dozen or so books for and about children and teenagers growing up cross-culturally.
  • Thankfulness:  It may sound simplistic, but "developing an attitude of gratitude" has proven mental health benefits, especially for cross cultural workers.
  • Trauma: As the world becomes increasingly violent more cross-cultural workers may find themselves in traumatic situations. Here are debriefing suggestions.
  • Uncompleted Transitions:  Since the transition from one culture to another takes months, often a year or more, cross-cultural workers often find themselves "leaving" before they are finished "entering."
  • Unwelcome "Guests": Cross-cultural workers serving in a host country are there as "guests" of the country, and they are only with the permission of local governments. They may be asked the country at any time. Here are some suggestions to prevent that from happening.  New!
  • Victim Mentalities: People with victim mentalities regard themselves as targets of the negative actions of others even when facing the normal problems of life. Here are some tips to help deal with such thinking in others--or in yourself.   
  • Whistleblowing: Cross-cultural workers may have information about activities that are illegal, unethical, or are not viewed as correct within their organization.  Here are some suggestions about whether to report or not.  

Also, visit the "Stewardship of Self for Cross Cultural Workers" series page.