It takes time to adjust to life as an expat woman and trailing spouse, feeling alone after moving away from family and established networks. A sudden job loss after moving here or settling in can also lead to an identity crisis. We spoke to SHARMINI WINSLOW about her practice of empowering women to work through these challenges with counselling and psychodrama.
Navigating an identity crisis and feeling alone
Life’s journey is a series of twists and turns, sometimes leading us to unexpected crossroads. For expat women who have recently lost their jobs and find themselves grappling with shifting dynamics, this juncture can be particularly daunting. The struggle to redefine yourself while adjusting to newfound dependency can be overwhelming. However, in the face of these challenges, there is a path to empowerment and self-discovery that lies ahead.
Trailing spouses who lose their jobs don’t only have to juggle cultural adjustments and language barriers. The identity that was once intertwined with their professional achievements can also seem lost. It’s a story that resonates with many. Suddenly being thrust into a role of dependency, particularly on a partner, can be emotionally challenging. The sense of purpose tied to a career feels like it’s gone, and the days may stretch ahead with uncertainty.
The power of transformation: seeking guidance
Expat women facing an identity crisis are not alone – there is a beacon of hope! Clinicians such as Sharmini possess the tools for empowering women to find their footing in times of transition. Sharmini’s unique blend of expertise as a counsellor, certified Psychodramatist and AF-EMDR practitioner brings a fresh perspective on navigating the intricacies of identity shifts. Having been an expat in Australia and given up her career as a professional dancer and business owner to be a trailing spouse, she has first-hand experience of the sense of loss and frustration faced by expat women.
Empowering women through counselling and psychodrama
Sharmini’s approach is rooted in understanding the multifaceted challenges faced by expat women. A job loss can trigger a cascade of emotions, from self-doubt to anxiety about financial stability. Through a holistic blend of counselling techniques, which include somatic work, experiential methods, drama and EMDR, Sharmini says she aims to address these challenges with empathy and a warm sense of humour. Her dynamic individual and group sessions provide a safe space for expat women to articulate their feelings, fears and aspirations.
Psychodrama, for example, involves role-playing and creative expression, allowing women to explore different facets of their identities in a supportive environment. It’s all about moving the body, acting out scenarios, being spontaneous and releasing pent-up energy. By working through these emotions and exploring new options, they can begin to unravel the layers of their identity that are tied to their careers.
Empowering women to chart a path forward: the journey of self-rediscovery
Sharmini says that through guided therapy, “dependency” can be reframed as an opportunity for growth and re-invention! It’s also a chance for women to collaborate with their partners and be more present. They can engage in open conversations about roles and expectations, and build a stronger foundation for their relationship. They can learn to see the possibilities that lie ahead; to reassess priorities, explore new passions and cultivate a deeper sense of self-awareness.
With support, expat women stop feeling alone and can emerge from this transformational process wiser, more resilient and ready to embrace the next chapter of their lives with renewed purpose and confidence.
This article first appeared in the October 2023 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!
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