Title

Experiences of oppression among Middle-Eastern couples living in Denmark: Implications for marriage and family therapy

Date of Award

2007

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Marriage and Family Therapy

Advisor(s)

Kenneth Hardy

Keywords

Oppression, Middle-Eastern, Couples, Denmark, Marriage and family therapy

Subject Categories

Psychology | Race and Ethnicity | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Psychology | Sociology

Abstract

There has been an increasing interest within the field of Marriage and Family Therapy over the last decades in uncovering and exploring how specific contextual parameters influence the life experience of minority groups. The identified experiences of minority groups include emotional and psychological responses directly connected to oppression, the effect of oppression on the couple relationship, and specific mental health needs. This dissertation adds to the existing knowledge in several ways. Specifically, the aim is to explore (1) how experiences of oppression may be present in a Scandinavian context, (2) how lived experiences affect the relationship of minority couples in Denmark, and (3) their specific mental health needs and implications for marriage and family therapists.

During this study eight couples (16 individuals) were interviewed to gain an indepth understanding of their experiences and meaning-making processes. The data was analyzed using a phenomenological method developed by Edwards and Titchen (2003) and based on the theory of Alfred Schutz (1967; 1970a). Results indicated that, as a consequence of their racial, cultural, and religious difference, the participating couples experienced that others tend to devalue them, seeing them as not-Danish, and being of lesser worth, affecting them emotionally and psychologically. This study identified several coping mechanisms commonly used by Middle Eastern couples in Denmark. This dissertation is ground breaking in Denmark, as it takes a first step toward exploring the experiences of minority couples and the emotional and psychological impact that the Danish context has on them. In addition, this dissertation makes a contribution to the field of marriage and family therapy by connecting theories developed in the United States to lived experiences in Denmark, enabling marriage and family therapists around the world to reflect on trans-cultural and trans-national processes and experiences in regards to oppression.

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