My Story: Talking About Therapy to My Immigrant Parents

By Saniya Ghanoui —

EN discusses what it is like to talk to her parents, who have a different cultural background, about therapy and mental health. 


OBOS Today: And if you’re comfortable with it, can you kind of explain a little bit about how you discovered the root of your problems?  

EN: Um, plain and simple, years and years of therapy. Well, like a year of therapy. We really talked about my home life, nothing, I don’t mean this in a weird way, like um or in a bad way. But um, I have a loving family and everything, my parents have been together for over 35 years. We have always lived under the same roof. We never like moved around a lot and it was always a loving environment. But I feel like growing up as a teenager, having stricter parents really made things difficult for me because I couldn’t really interact with, um, or do things that my friends were doing. Also, because my parents grew up in a different country and are so much older, they don’t really understand the cultural differences, and I feel like that really set off lots of my anxiety and um, feeling like I was stuck in a box.  

OBOS Today: And with, um, the cultural differences and stuff um, how did you deal with that? How did you kind of try to, did you ever try to, like, integrate them into like our culture? Did they, like, did you like try to integrate your own culture into your like day to day life? 

EN: So, uh, my sister is 16 years older than I am. And my parents, um, like, came to the states when she was younger, so they experienced lots of culture shock and they were pretty Americanized by the time I was going through these issues. So, um, they would like talk to their friends about it um, even now my mom is like, “Maybe yoga will help you,” and they try to figure out different ways to help me mentally or even like, through school when I’m really stressed.  

OBOS Today: Growing up obviously with parents from a different country, like you grew up differently and everything than most Americans who grew up with parents who were also born and raised in America and stuff. So, how, those differences, did it ever make things harder or easier when getting help or were they always accepting in trying to help you? 

EN: Like going to therapy? 

OBOS Today: Yeah, and just in any way with your mental health. 

EN: Um, so, they didn’t, my dad didn’t really understand at the beginning, but my mom was like, “Okay if you need the help, go get the help.” So, they were pretty understanding of it, and they recognize that it’s a real thing, which is really nice. Um, so it’s, they are very supportive of it.