Moving to another country can seem glamorous: fresh starts, travel, and opportunities for adventure. But international families know these boons can come at high prices. The exciting new life means leaving the familiar one behind, and this can prove more difficult than expected. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed in your new life, and if you do, Expat Counseling Center can help you adjust.
Expat Counseling Center has offices in Amsterdam and Leiden. Jessica Lohrmann and Ooshani Suma work in the airy, cheerful office on Amsterdam’s Herengracht. They are both internationals, who understand deeply what it means to relocate. “We have moved through difficult phases of life and adjustment, and we are multilingual, with Dutch, German, and English. The language is important,” Jessica stresses. Romanian is also offered at the Leiden location with Dana Popa.
“ We are systemic family therapists, and we look beyond the issues to the context within family, culture, and education.” Ooshani Suma
Ooshani links language with the cultural experience of relocation and embraces a holistic approach. She explains, “A lot of people will say most Dutch people speak English, but sometimes it misses something. We have the cultural experience of leaving home to build a life somewhere else, and how difficult it is not to have a network here. We are systemic family therapists, and we look beyond the issues to the context within the family, culture, and education to understand why you are in the situation.”
Both Jessica and Ooshani trained and worked in the US, and both have received additional Dutch training. Expat Counseling Center has been helping international families since 2016, and offers several services aimed to ease transitions. Jessica and Ooshani see clients suffering emotional distance due to demanding jobs with high stress levels, partners who have moved at different times and are living in different countries, infidelities, blended families, and of course children’s adjustment struggles. They strive to normalize adjustment to help you find your tribe and ensure you settle in well. Ooshani says, “You have to rebuild your identity, and that can be an opportunity, and it can be hard. You are not alone in it, everyone is struggling in a different way. That is normal.”
Expat Counseling Center offers several services, including individual, couples, and family counseling:
“The high demands of expat jobs can leave relationships in crisis. How do you create and maintain connection in a new environment? How do you connect and not feel isolated?”
Individual Counseling helps the client explore personal growth and greater self-knowledge, adjust to major life challenges and trauma, while dealing systemically with stress, anxiety, depression, burnout, low self-esteem, and adjustment to life in the Netherlands. “We try to normalize the experience, because it can be lonely,” explains Jessica.
Couples Counseling addresses communication problems, arguing, emotional distancing, infidelity, trust, adjustment challenges, separation or divorce, and differences in opinions and expectations (because of culture, gender and/or upbringing). “The high demands of expat jobs can leave relationships in crisis. How do you create and maintain connection in a new environment? How do you connect and not feel isolated?”, Ooshani asks. Both Jessica and Ooshani have received additional training in EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy), an approach that is widely used and successful for couples in distress.
“You have to rebuild your identity, and that can be an opportunity, and it can be hard. You are not alone in it, everyone is struggling in a different way. That is normal.”
Family Counseling helps families facing divorce, addiction, mental or physical illness, bereavement, eating disorders, aging, family conflicts, cultural adjustments, and trauma. Some families face problems dealing with aging parents still at home. Jessica elaborates, “There are inheritance problems when you leave your aging parents, how do you deal with not being there, and cope with the guilt of not being there?”
Naturally family counseling also includes the kids. “We treat children with a systemic approach within the family. We see adolescent, adjustment, and life phases, and we prepare kids to return home or for another move. It starts with helping parents help their kids. Parents are the experts, and I prefer seeing kids in their own environment with a home visit,” Jessica explains.
Counseling sessions are possible in Amsterdam and Leiden and are aimed at the many members of the international community who have come to the Netherlands to continue their professional lives. Expat Counseling Center returns calls within 24 hours to expedite scheduling, and offers flexible timing for appointments. To ensure complete confidentiality and flexibility they have opted not to work with Dutch health insurance companies.
Note: Expat Counseling Center has paid to be featured on Amsterdam Mamas because they believe that their services would be of interest and benefit to our readers, and we think so too. For more information on sponsored posts and advertising on Amsterdam Mamas, please see our Advertising and Disclosure policy.
Mary Petiet is a reporter, writer, and story teller. Her work is frequently inspired by her native Cape Cod, where she covers the local farm beat for Edible Cape Cod magazine. Mary is the author of Minerva’s Owls (Homebound Publications, April 2017), a book remembering the divine feminine to reenvision the world. She is currently headquartered in The Netherlands.
photo credit: Expat Counseling Center