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Migrant women’s negotiation of belonging through therapeutic relationships

Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift
Författare Åsa Wettergren
Mona Lindqvist
Publicerad i International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care
Volym 14
Nummer/häfte 1
Sidor 41-54
ISSN 1747-9894
Publiceringsår 2018
Publicerad vid Institutionen för sociologi och arbetsvetenskap
Sidor 41-54
Språk en
Ämnesord Belonging, Emotions, Social bonds, Migrant women, Psychiatric care, Social suffering
Ämneskategorier Psykologi, Sociologi (exklusive socialt arbete, socialpsykologi och socialantropologi), Socialpsykologi


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore experiences and emotions of migrant women, who have been in psychotherapy in Sweden, their motives and experience of being treated in psychotherapy. The authors argue that not only traumas of the past but also social suffering in the post-migratory phase contribute to what brought them in contact with psychiatric care. Design/methodology/approach – Narrative interviews with 12 migrant women, holding permanent residence permits, were conducted. The interviews were loosely structured around themes such as the experience of migration, of everyday living in Sweden, experiences of Swedish psychiatric care, and reflections and understandings of mental and physical health/ill health. Interview transcripts were analyzed thematically using abductive qualitative text analysis. Findings – In the narratives an overarching motive for seeking out psychiatric help is the search for belonging and restoring a cohesive sense of self. Belonging is sought both in symbolic terms – formal access and right to health care – and in a deeper emotional sense as the therapist becomes a local adviser. The therapeutic encounter meets the human desire to be seen and confirmed as the person you are, and need to be, in the new host society. Meanwhile, psychotherapy as a way to negotiate belonging is also a risky endeavor, as the idealized view of the therapeutic relation may be disappointed. Research limitations/implications – This study provides the interviewed migrant women ’ s perception of the psychotherapeutic relationship. Yet this relationship needs to be elaborated from different perspectives to improve understanding of psychotherapy in psychiatric care. Originality/value – The paper fills a gap in research concerning the dominance of the psychiatric discourse over subjective understandings of health and illness, and how this relates to emotions of social suffering in the case of migrant women. Keywords Belonging, Emotions, Social bonds, Migrant women, Psychiatric care, Social suffering Paper type Research pape

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