Hearing their voices : counsellors’ perspectives on working with adolescent foreign students. (2021)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Degree NameMaster of Counselling
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
The number of international students studying abroad increases most years and whilst the United States is still seen as the first choice for many international students other countries, such as New Zealand, also attract significant numbers of international students. International students are important to education rolls and national economies, and also in promoting empathy and cultural awareness, yet several sources express significant concerns for these students, describing them as vulnerable. The challenges these students face are numerous and complex. Due to the nature of globalisation, cross-cultural mobility and migration these challenges are faced by an increasing number of students, who this study suggests are better defined as ‘foreign students’. Those foreign students who are adolescents, and therefore experiencing a range of changes and developments as they transition from childhood to adulthood, are potentially even more vulnerable.
This qualitative research study, which employed narrative research with a feminist lens, sought to explore counsellors’ experiences when working with adolescent foreign students. The aim was to gather rich descriptions of their experiences, explore their understanding of the term ‘foreign student’ and discover what they describe as both helpful and challenging when counselling these students. Four counsellors, who have worked with adolescent foreign students in the past two years, participated in semi-structured interviews from which detailed data was gathered and documented as transcripts. Analysis utilised a dual approach of narrative analysis and analysis of narratives, or thematic analysis, so that the participants’ stories were honoured and core concepts were identified across the stories. In addition to developing an account for each participant, four key themes emerged from the findings: 1) The importance of being foreign, 2) Layers of many overlapping complex challenges, 3) Developing a connection by making space for their unique experiences and 4) Possibility. This study proposes that ‘foreign student’ is an important term to use to ensure that all adolescent students who are facing cultural and language challenges are supported. The findings of this study support the literature with respect to the complex challenges foreign students face and with regard to developing effective experiences for these students in counselling. This study contributes to the limited literature available in relation to counselling foreign students who are adolescents, in particular in New Zealand. Key findings that are relevant to counsellors working with adolescent foreign students include the importance of: engaging with a multicultural counselling approach, ongoing self-reflection about one’s own identity and experiences of being foreign, considering the use of self-disclosure especially if one has a personal experience of being foreign, being flexible to the individual needs of each student, collaborating with other staff in particular through school counselling referral systems and being aware of the positive possibilities for adolescent foreign students. Working with interpreters and managing family tensions due to different cultural expectations are identified as key challenges for counsellors when working with adolescent foreign students. Implications for practice and recommendations for further research are discussed.
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