A Treatment Approach For The Distress Of Culture Shock Experienced By Sojourners

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Educational Psychology


The purpose of this study was threefold: (a) to design a treatment for culture shock which was based on a particular theoretical view of the causes of culture shock and which combined and integrated psychotherapeutic and cross-cultural training techniques, (b) to provide the treatment to sojourners in a field setting, and (c) to empirically evaluate the efficacy of the treatment.Subjects were 64 adult, white, Protestant, North Americans who had recently arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica to study Spanish. Since subjects could not be randomly assigned within one trimester at the language institute they attended, consecutive cohorts of incoming students were designated control and treatment groups.Control group subjects were tested for symptoms of psychological distress at the end of their first trimester of study. The next cohort of incoming students was offered the treatment, which consisted of 12 one hour sessions of instruction in skills for coping with culture shock, over a period of 6 weeks. Treatment group subjects were tested for symptoms of psychological distress at the end of their first trimester of study.Treatment and control group subjects were matched on a series of eight control variables and their scores on the Global Severity Index of the SCL-90-R were compared using the t-test for correlated samples.Statistical analysis yielded a significant difference between groups with p < .01. Therefore the hypothesis that subjects who experienced the treatment for culture shock would manifest lower scores of psychological distress than subjects who received no treatment was supported.Additional findings from subjects' feedback regarding the treatment revealed that individual subjects responded differently to different components of the treatment model.It can therefore be inferred that the treatment model designed for this study is effective in reducing symptoms of psychological distress for sojourners similar to this study's subjects, since the treatment group experienced fewer symptoms than did the control group.


Psychology, General

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