Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Third-culture children-Psychology, Group identity, Return migrants-Psychology, Acculturation, Qualitative research, TCK, Third culture kids, Reentry, Reacculturation, Identity development, Cross-cultural transition, Mental health, Coping


This study explored the experiences of adults who grew up outside their parents' home country as minor dependents, as known as Third Culture Kids (TCKs), and how their experiences abroad as well as their reentry experience back home shaped their cultural identity development and their psychological health. The research used semi-structured interview questions and interviewed 12 adult TCKs who were of age 30 and over and lived in the US at the time when the study was conducted. One of the incentives for this study was to inform mental health providers to gain a deeper understanding of adult TCKs experiences. The overall results showed that adult TCKs experiences as a child affects ones life even after several decades upon return to one's home country from their initial experience as TCKs. The research results suggested that it would be ideal for the clinicians to be adult TCKs or if not be informed of the common challenges and the process of grief and loss that TCKs typically experience during transitions. Also, the study showed the value and importance of having access to a community full of people who share similar experiences, not just upon return but also as an on-going support system. Suggestions for future research includes expanding the population to adult TCKs who live in other countries outside of the US, changing the age range to 21 and older, including those who may not be associated to higher education or international education field, and interviewing a larger sample of population.




62 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2015. Includes bibliographical references (pages 50-51)