If you feel lost in a new country

Home » Information about Croatia » If you feel lost in a new country

Moving to a new country and starting a new life can be difficult. Sometimes you can feel that the demands being made on you are overwhelming. You may feel as if there are no ways to manage that is satisfactory to you. This state is known as stress.  Stress can affect all aspects of your life, including how do you feel, how do you behave and how do you think. It can also affect your body and physical health.

People who were forced to leave their homes and countries often witnessed or had been exposed to potentially traumatic events. Potentially traumatic events can be:

  • seeing or being part of war combat,
  • forced separation from family or close friends,
  • death, loss or disappearance of family members or loved ones,
  • physical violence or assault, torture, sexual violence and other frightening situations where you felt your life was in danger.

Such experiences can affect your psychological and physical health and well-being. It is important to understand that each person reacts to such potentially traumatic events in its own unique way.

However, there are some typical reactions which include:

  • return of memories of the events without your will for example while you sleep as frightening dreams or while you are awake
  • feeling and acting as if you are in danger or looking for potential danger, even when you are not in a frightening situation.
  • avoiding thinking about or talking about the difficult experience(s) from the past including trouble remembering important parts the past
  • loss of interest in important, once positive, activities and feeling isolated from others

These difficulties, however disturbing, can be successfully prevailed. It is good to find professional help if such experiences bother you and interfere with your daily life.

Psychological help

What is it and who is it for?

Psychological counselling and psychotherapy are ways to help people deal with difficulties through conversation with specially educated professionals. This can be psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker and other professionals.

Who is it for?

Psychotherapy and counselling can help in dealing with difficulties in daily life; the impact of trauma, medical illness or loss, like the death of a loved one; and specific psychological disorders, like depression or anxiety. Turning to professionals to help you does not mean that you are weak or mad; psychological help is for ordinary people when things get too difficult to overcome them by themselves.

How does it work?

Counselling and psychotherapy may be conducted in an individual, family, couple, or group setting, and can help both children and adults. The trust and relationship between you and therapist is essential to working together effectively and benefiting from psychotherapy. That is why confidentiality is basic requirement which means that the professional helping you do not share your personal information with anyone else, including your family members.

Where can I turn to for psychological help?

In Croatia you can get psychological help in public health care system if you are referred by your doctor and then you do not have to pay for it. Asylum seekers and refugees can get free psychological help in organizations dedicated to supporting them. These organizations usually have interpreters who will help you and the counsellor understand each other. Interpreters also have to keep your conversation secret.

Support networks

When you are newcomer in a country and community you can benefit from getting in contact with other foreigners living there for a while. Sometimes just talking and spending time with other people can be helpful in resolving difficulties and learning from experience of others.

In Croatia, there are no many migrant and diaspora organizations. However, foreigners, particularly those who are asylum seekers and granted international protection, gather in organizations, associations and clubs supporting them.

DAH is the first Association of Africans in Croatia (http://dah.hr/about-us/)

There are other organizations providing cultural, recreational and leisure activities for foreigners and members of the local community:

Domaćigosti Choir (https://www.facebook.com/zbordomacigosti/

Football Club Zagreb 041 (https://www.facebook.com/nkzagreb041/


Further information & links

Rehabilitation centre for stress and trauma, provides psychological help with interpretation on Arabic and Farsi http://rctzg.hr/-/en/
Society for psychological help, provides psychological counselling with interpretation on Russian, Turkish, French, Arabic, Farsi, Hindu and Pasht
Information in Arabic http://dpp.hr/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Azilanti-ARABIC-03.pdf
Information in English http://dpp.hr/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Azilanti-ENG-06.pdf
Jesuit refugee service, http://www.jrs.hr/kontakt/
Croatian Red Cross, https://www.hck.hr/


Do I have to have a medical diagnosis to go to psychological counselling or psychotherapy?

No. Psychological counselling or psychotherapy can help people with mental health disorders who have medical diagnosis. However, most of the people who come for psychological counselling or psychotherapy have transient psychological difficulties and do not need to go to the medical doctors and get diagnosis. This does not mean that they suffer less and talking to professionals can be useful.

Do I need to take pills if I go to psychological counselling or psychotherapy?

It is not necessary. Majority of psychological difficulties do not require medication. If, however, your counsellor or psychotherapist concludes you could feel better and recover sooner with medication, he/she will discuss it with you and explain you the benefits and possible side effects. In Croatia, only psychiatrists can prescribe medication for the problems of mental health.

Who will know if I go to psychological counselling or psychotherapy?

You, your counsellor or psychotherapist and interpreter, if counselling is carried out with interpretation on the language you understand. And no one else, not even your family members if you don’t not share that with them.

The only exception is if your life and safety or life and safety of others are threatened. But, this happens very rarely.