If you feel lost in a new country


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Stress due traumatic events

Moving to a new country and starting a new life can be difficult. Sometimes you can feel that the demands on you are overwhelming. You may feel as if there are no ways to feel satisfied with yourself. This state is known as stress.  Stress can affect all aspects of your life, including how you feel, how you behave and how 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 or talking about the difficult experience(s) from the past including trouble remembering important parts of it
  • loss of interest in important, once positive, activities and feeling isolated from others

These difficulties, however disturbing, can be successfully prevailed.

Sometimes talking with some friends, able to listen and understand you, would help you in balancing your emotions and feel better. Being engaged with socialisation activities in the hosted city or referring to diaspora communities (for sure you would find people of your same country of origin living in the same city where you are!), or attending youth centers and to get to know with new people etc. would sustain you and allow you to establish positive relations.

But if such stress experiences bother you and interfere with your daily life, it’s important to find professional help.

Going to have a talk with a psychologist does not mean that you are “crazy”; instead it does mean that you take the responsibility of your wellbeing and of the people that you care.

Even if in your culture, going to a psychologist is not used, take in account that in Italy it is normal and the people find it very useful to have a professional, willing to listen and to guide you.

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 or other professionals.

Where can I turn to for psychological help?

In Italy, you can get psychological help in public health care system if your doctor refers you, 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 respect the confidentiality and cannot share private information with anyone else.

Psychological support services:




Support networks and further information

When you are newcomer in a country and community you can benefit from getting in contact with other people, who have experienced similar path or locals who are interested in cultural exchanges.

Sometimes just talking and spending time with other people can be helpful in resolving difficulties and learning from experience of others.

Below some links diaspora organisations:







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 Italy, only psychiatrists can prescribe medication for the problems of mental health or psychological diseases that need to be treated with specific pills. You have to trust your psychologist and psychiatrist; so often they work together and they evaluate together your psychological situation.

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 feel most comfortable with. Confidentiality is a basic requirement and no one else, not even your family members know what went through during the sessions, if you do not wish to share it with them.

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