Relocating to a new country implies a new beginning (i.e. new job, language, house, culture, friends), separation from the familiar culture and surrounding, being far away from loved ones etc. It requires expatriates to adjust, thus being able to function efficiently on social, personal, vocational levels as well as interacting and functioning efficiently in the general non-work new environment with all its complexity. It is a process in which one maintains one’s own identity while adapting and integrating successfully into the new country. The achievement of comfort, balance and harmony with the new environment has positive psychological and physical implications as well as a higher life satisfaction (Fiori, Mcilvane, Brown, & Antonucci, 2006). Self-efficacy relates to the ability to adjust and to depression. Self-efficacy influences the onset, intensity and duration of coping behaviour. Self-efficacy is, simply stated, the belief that an individual has in the ability to carry out an effective behaviour, which will create a change and deliver the desired result. One will continue to execute the behaviour as long as the belief exists.
Starting a new life in a new country is a very difficult and even stressful life event, which can trigger many positive as well as negative emotions. Sometimes living in a new country can contribute to the development of psychological problems. Depression is very common among expatriates and immigrants (Hünler, 2012; Bhatti et al.,2012; Van der Wurff et al., 2004). Expatriates with low self-efficacy are more likely to develop and suffer from depression. They often report more homesickness and wish to return to their home country (Fiori, Mcilvane, Brown, & Antonucci, 2006; Claus et al., 2011;Bhatti et al., 2012). Low self-efficacy also relates to poor job performance, absenteeism, lower commitment to the place of employment and difficulties in interpersonal relationships. Expatriates with low self-efficacy will have difficulty finding efficient and effective coping strategy to deal with situational demands. There is also a tendency to focus more on one’s own shortcomings, insecurities and on the emotional distress that the situation generates rather than on the challenge at hand. These tendencies may lead to high avoidance. Low self-efficacy makes even small daily hassles in a foreign setting appear overwhelming and terrifying, which in turn leads to feelings of frustration, isolation,helplessness, hopelessness and subsequently the emergence of many more depressive symptoms. Having depression prior to the relocation reduces the self-efficacy even further and continues the spiraling cycle of depression (Macigewski et al., 2000).
Expatriates with high self-efficacy are better adjusted to their general environment than expatriates with low self-efficacy. These expatriates become less discouraged when faced with challenges, adversity and unfamiliar environment. They are more resourceful and have more cognitive flexibility.The high self-efficacy helps confronting difficult situations without being overwhelms and experiencing incapacitating anxiety, stress, doubt and confusion. Believing in own competence and skills not only increases the motivation of active confrontation but also increases the willingness to engage, persevere and try to learn new behaviours and customs that are appropriate in the new country. Perceiving the difficulty of adjusting to the changes as challenges that they are able to conquer rather than threats leads to a better a adjustment and psychological adaptation (Poyrazli et al., 2002). Efforts should be made to establish and maintain higher levels of self-efficacy among expatriates and preferably even before the relocation. This could be done with the help of CBT therapy. Therapy can reduce the severity of depression as well as raise emotional adaptiveness and coping abilities with the new life changes.
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