English Speaking Therapists in Barcelona

12 Compelling Reasons Internationals and Digital Nomads Should Consider Therapy

12 Compelling Reasons Internationals and Digital Nomads Should Consider Therapy

Let’s start with the Story of Castellers in Catalunya….

In the heart of Catalunya, a powerful tradition unfolds – the building of human towers known as ‘Castells.’ This captivating spectacle, more than just a cultural marvel, encapsulates a profound life lesson. At the base of each tower is the ‘pinya,’ a solid and supportive foundation that allows the ‘estrellita,’ the smallest and bravest member, to ascend confidently to the very top. This powerful symbol resonates deeply with the journey many internationals and digital nomads undertake.

Like the estrellita, we all need a sturdy support system to reach our greatest heights. Therapy in Barcelona, in this context, is akin to a part of the pinya. It provides one aspect of the foundational support that enables individuals to climb higher, face challenges with courage, and achieve personal growth and success. 

In an increasingly globalised world, the number of people living as expatriates or digital nomads is growing. This lifestyle offers unparalleled freedom and opportunities, but it also comes with its unique set of challenges. Therapy, especially tailored for internationals and digital nomads, can be a transformative tool to navigate these challenges effectively. Below, Therapy in Barcelona Founder and Director, and Aussie Psychologist, Leigh Matthews explores 12 reasons why internationals and digital nomads might consider starting therapy:

Navigating Cultural Adjustment:

  • Issue: Moving to a new country often involves adapting to a different culture, which can be both exciting and overwhelming. This process, known as cultural adjustment, can lead to stress and anxiety.
  • Research: A study by Black, Mendenhall, and Oddou (1991) highlighted the stages of cultural adjustment and the associated stressors.
  • Benefit of Therapy: Therapy can provide support in understanding and navigating these stages, reducing feelings of isolation and helping individuals develop coping strategies.

Dealing with Anxiety:

  • Issue: Uncertainties and changes that come with living abroad can trigger or exacerbate anxiety.
  • Research: According to a survey by the Expat Insider, expatriates report higher levels of anxiety compared to their home counterparts.
  • Benefit of Therapy: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Mindfulness practices, and other therapeutic frameworks offered at Therapy in Barcelona, have been proven to be effective in managing anxiety symptoms.

Managing Depression:

  • Issue: The lack of a familiar support system and potential language barriers can contribute to feelings of loneliness and depression.
  • Research: A study in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology noted the higher prevalence of depression among expatriates.
  • Benefit of Therapy: Therapy provides a space to explore these feelings, understand their roots, and develop strategies to cope with and alleviate depressive symptoms.

Handling Stress:

  • Issue: Juggling work, adapting to new environments, and maintaining relationships can be stressful.
  • Research: Research by Lazarus and Folkman (1984) on stress and coping mechanisms underscores the importance of effective stress management strategies.
  • Benefit of Therapy: Your therapist can introduce stress management techniques like relaxation exercises and time management strategies to help you cope.

Relationship Challenges:

  • Issue: Being an international or a digital nomad can strain relationships, both with partners and family back home.
  • Research: Studies show higher rates of relationship strain in expatriate couples due to the unique stresses they face.
  • Benefit of Therapy: Couples counselling can help partners communicate effectively, understand each other’s experiences, and strengthen their relationship.

Overcoming Dating Obstacles:

  • Issue: Dating in a new cultural context can be challenging and may lead to misunderstandings or feelings of loneliness.
  • Research: Cultural differences in dating norms can lead to confusion and stress, as noted in cross-cultural relationship research.
  • Benefit of Therapy: Therapy can assist you in understanding cultural nuances, building self-confidence, and navigating the dating world more effectively.

Building Self-Worth:

  • Issue: The challenges of living abroad can sometimes lead to doubts about one’s abilities and a decrease in self-esteem.
  • Research: The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology highlights how new environments can impact self-esteem.
  • Benefit of Therapy: Therapists help in exploring and affirming personal values and strengths, and managing the internal critic, helping you to enhance your self-esteem and self-worth.

Addressing Substance Abuse:

  • Issue: The stress of adapting to a new environment and the prevalence of an expat drinking and party culture can sometimes lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as substance abuse.
  • Research: A study in the International Journal of Psychology notes higher substance use among expatriates and roughly 11% of our clients at Therapy in Barcelona cite substance abuse as a reason for seeking help.
  • Benefit of Therapy: Therapy offers a safe space to explore the underlying causes of substance abuse and develop healthier coping strategies.

Work-Life Balance:

  • Issue: Managing work demands while adapting to a new culture can be challenging, often leading to an imbalance.
  • Research: The Harvard Business Review discusses the challenges of maintaining work-life balance as an expat or digital nomad.
  • Benefit of Therapy: Therapy can provide tools for setting boundaries, managing time effectively, and finding a balance that works for you.

Family Dynamics:

  • Issue: Relocating can disrupt family dynamics, especially when children and teenagers are involved.
  • Research: Research indicates that expatriate families often experience unique stressors affecting family relationships.
  • Benefit of Therapy: Family therapy can support your family in addressing these challenges, enhancing communication, and strengthening family bonds.

 Addressing Identity and Belonging:

  • Issue: Living abroad often prompts introspection about one’s identity and sense of belonging for many expats including accompanying spouses. This self-reflection can lead to feelings of disconnection or confusion about one’s place in the new culture.
  • Research: Studies in the field of cultural psychology have shown that expatriates frequently experience shifts in their sense of identity, influenced by their immersion in a new culture.
  • Benefit of Therapy: Therapy provides a supportive space for individuals to explore these identity changes. It helps in understanding the impact of cultural influences on one’s self-concept and assists in integrating aspects of different cultures into a coherent sense of self. This process can lead to greater self-awareness and a more nuanced understanding of one’s place in the world.

Expanding Personal Growth: 

  • Issue: Adapting to a new environment presents unique opportunities for personal growth and self-discovery. 
  • Research: Research on expatriation highlights personal development as a key benefit of international experiences. 
  • Benefit of Therapy: Therapy offers a supportive environment to process these experiences, set personal goals, and maximise your personal growth.


The life of an international or digital nomad, while enriching, presents its own set of challenges. Therapy, tailored to your unique needs, can be an invaluable resource. By addressing issues such as cultural adjustment, anxiety, depression, stress, relationship dynamics, self-worth, and more, therapy aids in not only overcoming challenges but also in fostering personal growth and well-being.

At Therapy in Barcelona, we understand the unique hurdles faced by internationals and digital nomads. Our diverse team of expat therapists offers a range of approaches, including CBT, ACT, IFS, Somatic Therapy, Solution Focused, Mindfulness-based approaches and more, to cater to your individual needs.

Remember, taking the step towards therapy is not just about addressing your challenges; it’s about embracing the opportunity to grow, understand yourself better, and enhance your quality of life, no matter where you are in the world.

In the spirit of the castellers of Catalunya, Therapy in Barcelona stands as a component of your pinya. Embrace this support and reach for your highest aspirations in your international life. 

Reach out for a discovery call or fill out our intake form, and let’s build your tower together, match you with a therapist suited to your needs and start your path towards a healthier, more fulfilled you.

Other articles you may like:

Navigating Language Barriers and Foreign Language Anxiety: A Neuroscience-Informed Guide for Expats

What Does the Therapy Process Look Like?

Mind Your Mind: Therapy Helps

Therapy in Barcelona – How Therapy Works


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