Health Promotion & Counselling in Context of Mixedness: Intermarried Couples, Parenting of Children & Mental Wellbeing

Publikation: KonferencebidragKonferenceabstrakt til konferenceForskning


My presentation covers some psychosocial aspects and counselling perspectives among intermarried couples in Denmark. It is primarily based on a research project about intermarried couples, where one of the partners is from South Asia and the other a native Dane, constituting “visibly ethnically different households“(Phoenix, 2011). The presentation also includes some practice based experiences of psychotherapy with mixed couples in a NGO in Copenhagen.
In contrast to ‘immigrant’ countries such as Australia & Canada, Scandinavian countries are characterised by egalitarian principles and ‘homogeneity’ on one hand and increasing, polarisation between us & the others and increasing ethnic diversity on the other. Despite increase in number, intermarried couples are still almost invisible as a statistical category and in psychosocial services. Both increased risk for married life disruption and opportunities for ‘fun part’ are aspects of intermarried couples. There are both human and economic costs related to problems which can range from chronic hassle to mental distress for the couple as well as the children. Exploring the ‘good practices’ in such marriages can provide inspiration for dealing with the health promotion, problem prevention and counselling for the distressed couples.
The theoretical framework combines intersectionality approach with life course perspective and the everyday life practices. The diasporic identity and transnational relations are also included. The explorative study is based on depth interviews with ‘ordinary’ persons in mixed marriage (n = 10).
The results indicate both the commonalities and the differences for the mixed couples in the particular nation and historical period. Not only family relationships- the internal aspects, but a variety of social influences on subjectively experienced feelings and expressive behaviour, such as responses of others, ‘gaze’ to couples’ ‘visible differences’ and the societal attitudes - the external aspects are significant. Practices such as focus on the ‘fun part’ involving negotiation of gender positions, cultural and social capital contribute to mental well being of couples in mixed marriages.
A simultaneous focus on the merits and perils, opportunities and limitations of such relationships contributes to suggestions for relevant mental health promotion, problem prevention and counselling for distressed couples.
Experiences from the NGO show that integrative approach to couple counselling and psychotherapy, transcending one theoretical modality combined with the role of gender, power and privilege, is a suitable way to deal with distressed couples. Mixed couples utilise various strategies to cope with experiences of being “visibly different, which requires assessment of their ethnic / racial awareness and their negotiation of differences counselling by the professional.
Thus the professionals´ qualities, couple’s relationship, extended family, the transnational relations of the diaspora partner and the in/exclusion processes in the society should be taken in consideration for health promotion, and counselling of the intermarried couples.
Publikationsdato4 jan. 2012
Antal sider1
StatusUdgivet - 4 jan. 2012
BegivenhedSecond International Conference on Counselling, Psycotherapy and Wellness - Bangalore, Indien
Varighed: 4 jan. 20126 jan. 2012
Konferencens nummer: 2


KonferenceSecond International Conference on Counselling, Psycotherapy and Wellness

Bibliografisk note

Abstract published in the Book of abstracts for Second International Conference on Counselling,Psytherapy and Wellness, A joint initiative of Christ University, Bangalore and University of Toronto


  • Ethnic intermarriages
  • increased risks & opportunities
  • good practices
  • health promotion,
  • integrative counselling

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