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Long, K. (2020). Fractured Stories: Self-Experiences of Third Culture Kids. J. Infant Child Adolesc. Psychother., 19(2):134-147.

(2020). Journal of Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, 19(2):134-147

Fractured Stories: Self-Experiences of Third Culture Kids

Kristin Long, MA, RDT/BCT, LCAT, LP

The term Third Culture Kid (TCK) was first coined by researchers John and Ruth Useem in the 1950s. These children spend a substantial part of their childhood in countries that differ from their passport country, often for their parent’s work. Because TCKs move from culture to culture prior to having the opportunity to fully develop their personal and cultural identity, they may have additional problems relating to peers within their own ethnic groups. For children who return to the United States after living abroad, they may need to ‘catch up’ as they are at a loss around certain culture references. While they speak the same language as their peers, they had such varied childhoods that there is often a lack of shared memories and reference points that they can use to relate. This paper will explore the additional stress that can occur for TCKs throughout their childhood and adolescence, and how expressive arts therapy can assist them in creating a more cohesive self–narrative. Using play, art and imagination, three case studies of TCK’s will be examined, understanding that children who maintain a capacity for play and creativity can often “play through” life challenges.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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