Our globe is the same size as it has ever been, but the world is shrinking and becoming less localized and more globalized because of diaspora. Diaspora’s Septuagint and Greek etymology is applied to people who have dispersed or scattered across lands—away from homelands and/or areas of ancestry.
Recently, I learned that if the people of diaspora comprised our own diasporic community, we would be the third largest population in the world—following China and India. Additionally, the World Migration Report (2020) posited that both Europe and Asia have over 85 million migrants each and the US has nearly 59 million migrants. It should be noted that internal migration includes moving within a state, territory, or country, while international migration includes moving from country to country.
Naturally, counselors understand that clients who are migrants; whether internal or international, arrive equipped with biopsychosocial-spiritual-cultural diversity, just as clients who are non-migrants do. Clients who are children could be migrants who have moved to a new town within the same State for their primary caregiver’s work. Clients who are older adults could be migrants who have moved into a neighboring county for smaller, simpler housing following spousal bereavement. Clients of any age could a part of families who have migrated due to war’s forcible displacement (i.e. Syria and Ukraine). Needless to say, migration is common, diverse, and growing globally.
Because diaspora and migration are common and growing, counseling awareness, advocacy, and support for these populations are paramount. Awareness begins right where we are—who are the people around us who have migrated and/or are part of the diaspora? Advocacy can be simple and powerful—what are barriers migrants have overcome and how can the barrier resilience and strength be reinforced and recognized? Support is essential—what are the needs and current obstacles that one counselor, one behavioral health center, and/or one community can provide reliable resources for?
With counseling awareness, advocacy, and support, the unique presentations of migration and diaspora can be celebrated and integrated as part of mental health growth and collaboration within therapy sessions, in communities, and together in our growing, global neighborhood.
Darby J. Koogler is a graduate counseling intern, writer, former teacher, and hopeful international school counselor. darbyjkoogler.wordpress.com