Dr Amy Kellogg
Amy is a licensed Social Counsellor with the Community Development Authority and has lived and worked in the UAE for the past 20 years. Originally from the USA, Amy graduated with her B.A. in Psychology from Grove City College and went on to pursue a M.Ed. in Counseling and Guidance at the University of Texas. Shortly after, in 2002, her husband's job transferred them overseas to Abu Dhabi, beginning their international adventure.
Amy has worked in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Dubai, serving expat families in a variety of settings. Formerly the Head of Wellbeing and School Counsellor for Fortes Education, Amy has presented workshops on mental health topics as well as psycho-education around “Third Culture Kids” to students, faculty, and parents. She has also been a speaker for KHDA initiatives and What Works conferences on the topic of wellbeing in schools.
Currently, Amy works as a community counsellor at Fellowship Dubai, a church-based organization that aims to provide donation-based mental health support to those who otherwise could not afford it. She has just finished her Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision from Regent University and completed her dissertation on factors that impact wellbeing and longevity of UAE expatriates.
Why do we stay? Examining factors that enhance resilience and longevity among UAE expatriates
Resilience has been defined by the American Psychological Association (APA) as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress.” However, research has also indicated that resilience is far more nuanced than simply being a trait that one may or may not have and is often impacted by social systems and culture (Southwick et al, 2014). Expanding the definition to fit across cultures, Panter-Brick and Leckman (2013) defined resilience as “a process to harness resources and sustain wellbeing.”
For expatriates, resilience is a key when it comes to adapting to cross-cultural stressors and sustaining wellbeing. Living and working abroad as an expatriate brings with it unique cultural and systemic stressors that may not be present in one’s home country. So what makes an expatriate in the UAE resilient? What factors make them want to stay longer even amidst the stress of being away from their home countries? Is there a difference between individualistic and collectivistic cultures when it comes to perseverance and a desire to stay?
The World Migration Reports (IOM, 2020) identified the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as the country with the highest proportion of expatriates. This makes the UAE a unique location to examine the factors that impact wellbeing of expatriates as well as their willingness to stay despite the many unique stressors that come with living and working abroad. In addition, the government of the UAE has a keen interest in the wellbeing of its residents. In 2016, the government instituted a Ministry of Happiness that set into motion many initiatives across schools, businesses and community with the aim of becoming the happiest country. They have also increased the opportunity for expatriates to obtain 5 and 10 year visas to incentivize expatriates to stay longer in the country.
Based upon research of over 300 expatriates currently living in the UAE, this presentation will unpack factors such as migration motivation, perceived social support and perceived God support on wellbeing as well as factors that predict longevity of stay in the UAE even in the face of challenges. From the outcomes of the study, it will further discuss how psychologists, counsellors and community workers can develop preventative strategies to support cross-cultural adjustment and resilience among expatriates in the UAE.
Southwick, S. M., Bonanno, G. A., Masten, A. S., Panter-Brick, C., & Yehuda, R. (2014). Resilience definitions, theory, and challenges: Interdisciplinary perspectives. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 5(1), 25338-14. https://doi.org/10.3402/ejpt.v5.25338
Panter-Brick C, Leckman J. F. Editorial commentary: Resilience in child development—Interconnected pathways to wellbeing. The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 2013;54:333–336. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12057.
International Organization for Migration, 2019. World Migration Report 2020. McCauliffe, M & Khadria, B. (Eds). Geneva.