Advances in Mental Health, Vol 12, No 2 (2014)

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A Group Psychological Intervention to Enhance the Coping and Acculturation of International Students

Nigar Gohar Khawaja, Rachel A. Smith


There is a noticeable shortage of psychological interventions to aid the acculturation of international students.  The present study addressed this issue through the development and pilot evaluation of a brief group psychological intervention, the STAR program:  Strengths, Transitions, Adjustments, and Resilience.  The STAR program was developed using suggestions from international students and university professional and academic staff.  It comprises of four weekly two-hour sessions, and is experiential and cognitive-behavioural in nature.  The STAR program aims to enhance coping and thereby psychological adaptation (an acculturation outcome).  Sixteen international students participated in the pilot study of the STAR program.  The participants completed measures on coping self-efficacy, social self-efficacy, psychological adaptation, and psychological distress at pre, post, and one-month follow-up.  Results showed that participants significantly increased in their psychological adaptation and coping self-efficacy between pre and post, with the treatment gain maintained at the one-month follow-up for psychological adaptation.  Increases in social self-efficacy were evident, but this did not reach significance due to a lack of power.  The STAR program did not have an impact on psychological distress, however, participants were only minimally distressed at the commencement of the program.  The pilot evaluation, including qualitative questionnaire feedback from participants, provided useful suggestions for modifications of the STAR program, which future research should address.

Advances in Mental Health

ISSN 1837-4905
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